A brief look back at some images from my first year in Japan.
A proud, newly wed couple posed for photos in traditional dress, next to the year’s first cherry blossoms in Ritsurin Park, Kagawa. Lots of people were out for Hanamis (picnics under the cherry blossoms) that weekend (April 2011)
One of the truly hidden gems of Western Japan, the picturesque Ritsurin Park. Although the most popular time to visit is when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the gardens are beautiful all year round. (April 2011)
A woman in a Kimono on her way to a summer festival decided to have a quick cigarette on a footbridge in metropolitan Osaka. (August 2011)
A view of Osaka castle, on an extremely hot and sweaty Saturday afternoon. I remember it as being one the hottest days of the year and had to seek shade at every opportunity. Standout moment was seeing a sign at the castle that read “Beware of the local bees, they sting” (August 2011)
Pilgrims chanting at Shido temple in Sanuki one mystical Friday morning (October 2011). This is one of the 88 temples that make up the Shikoku Pilgrimage, associated with KÅbÅ Daishi who introduced an esoteric form of Buddhism to Japan over a thousand years ago.
The cast of the movie Fukushima Hula Girls raised temperatures and wowed the crowds at the Tokyo Film Festival with their colourful costumes and exotic dance routine. So hot they didn’t even feel the October chill. (October 2011)
Some friends enjoyed a drink or three in a traditional Izakaya in Sakaide. These rowdy Japanese “pubs” can be found in every town or city, where food, beer or sake is served and the drinking can go on til the wee hours. As I recall on this occasion there was some serious throwing-up afterwards. (November 2011)
On a crisp December morning in fashionable Kobe, I turned a street corner to come across this striking shrine. I love the fact that you can discover these oases of calm in the most urban of settings. Even in December, the sun was still shining against a beautiful, clear blue sky. Although the cold was still biting! (December 2011)