Rainy weekends sometimes seem like a disappointment: there are no bright sunrises, no light streaming through the trees, no mountain peaks reaching up into the sky. But grey skies make colours more vibrant. Startlingly bright greens come out of usually dull mosses, and everything shines with moisture. The background fades to grey in the misting rain.
I’ve been out exploring, driving around Nagano on wet days, my camera wrapped up against the weather. Last weekend I went back to Komagane for the first time in years. The river was swollen with the steady downpour of rains, rushing down over water-tumbled rocks out of the invisible mountains. All night the sound of rain and of running rivers, the summer field smell of tatami, and hot baths in the onsen at a hotel out of another era.
In the morning the rain continued. We drank hot coffee from a roadside vending machine, and discovered a temple I’d never visited before: Kozenji, famous for the legendary dog Hayataro and for it’s weeping cherry trees, still in bud. Umbrellas in hand we explored the temple grounds, and found these statues tucked away in a grove of giant sugi trees. The mist, the rain, the green moss, and the red all came together, perfectly.
I’d also like to thank again everyone who helped me support charities in the Tohoku by sharing my link and by buying prints. Every little helps and it means so much to be able to help make a difference. Thank you.
Taken with my trusty old Nikon D700 just after sunrise at Myoshin-ji Temple in Kyoto last weekend. 1/60 at f11, 35mm, ISO400. We’d spent the night at Torin-ji, one of the sub-temples at Myoshin-ji, and woke early enough to explore the temple grounds just as the sun was rising over the complex. While I stopped to make this photograph morning prayers were being chanted in the hall behind me, and everything seemed heightened and extra-real. Very Zen, really.
Suddenly, it’s spring, and visitors are filling up my days, taking me driving up still snow-covered mountains, taking me out to lunch, taking me away from my computer. I’m sorry to have been away from here for so long, but it’s exciting to be out exploring, and I’ll have new photographs soon. In the meantime, my mind is filling up with words and I’m thinking about writing again. In Matsumoto, the cherries are just beginning to unfurl clouds of pink petals that take my breath away. I’m working on old projects and new ones. Like the landscape I’m shaking off the winter chill.
On March 11, 2011, Japan’s northeast was struck by a devastating tsunami. One year later, the worst-hit areas are still struggling to rebuild their lives and communities. All proceeds from print sales of images in my gallery “the Road Onward – for the Tohoku” will go to non-profits working to help rebuild these areas.
Winter here is white, up in the hills, though we’ve had our share of snow in town as well.
I’ve been out exploring, gathering stories, making photographs, learning things. I’ve been using my snowshoes and even when I’m in town, my eyes keep returning to the mountains.
Winter. December blurs into January, New Year’s celebrations bundling the old year into the new. The mountains that mark our horizon out here in central Nagano are cold and crisp and white against the sky, the trees on the higher slopes frosted with snow.
It’s pretty inspiring.
I wrap up against the cold, go out on rambling, think about all the things I’ve achieved this year.
I weigh them against the things I haven’t done, and find the balance in my favour.
Almost 9 months after the tsuami devastated the town, I was offered the chance to visit Minami Sanriku (or Minamisanriku-cho, depending on how you choose to transliterate it) to participate in their “revival market”. The market is an amazing monthly event, designed to raise funds to re-build shops and factories and generally rebuild the heart of the town that was so tragically obliterated on March 11. The market was full of optimism and shining smiles, and the town seems to be in the process of getting back on its feet, though the destruction is still evident on the flat land. I’m still processing the experience, but in the meantime, I’ve put up some of my photographs over on flickr.