Mt. Ontake (2)

More from Mt. Ontake. I’m really looking forward to hiking up in winter and exploring the nearby villages a lot more. I image it looks wonderful in the snow. I know it does from Inuyama, where I live, nearly 100kms away on crisp winter days.

御嶽山 冬に御嶽山でハイキングや近くの村を探検する事を楽しみにしています。雪の中の御嶽山はきっと奇麗。自分が住んでいるところ、100キロも離れている犬山市から見える冬の御嶽山は間違いなく美しい。山を本当に尊敬しています。








Leica M6 – Fuji Provia 100 / Fuji Instax 210

This morning I managed to get out on the bike with my new Fuji Instax 210 Wide that I bought for work.

These aren’t great photos, I know, but I’m looking forward to riding in the mountains with this camera and seeing some instant prints while out in the middle of nowhere.

今朝、仕事のために買ったばかりの Fujifilm Instax 210 Wide インスタントカメラをカバンに入れて、自転車で出かけました。

Inuyama city & castle 犬山市・犬山城
Narita-san 成田山
Local pond 犬山周辺の池
Local allotment 畑





Hounen Matsuri

I was a little reluctant to attend the Hounen Matsuri (豊年祭) in Komaki despite it being only a short bicycle ride from my home. The rumours of the ‘not-so-respectful’ reactions by certain non-Japanese visitors at the sight of a giant wooden phallus being the main reason.

However, after just travelling thousands of miles to photograph the Kumbh Mela I found it difficult to justify not attending. Unfortunately some of the non-Japanese lived up to the reputation but when they did it was always laughed off or largely ignored by the locals.

It was nonetheless a bizarre sight to see a giant wooden penis being carried down the road I cycle along daily by sake-fuelled men and women cradling wooden penises. Equally bizarre was the sight of some of the visitors dressed up in fancy dress.

The characters 豊年 mean bountiful/abundant year and although the festival and local shrine is visited by couples hoping to conceive it is also attended by anyone hoping for a prosperous year.








The Park

Went to a park in nearby Gifu city last week. There was a somewhat premature plum blossom festival without many trees in bloom but fortunately this grandfather – granddaughter sword fight made up for it.

For what it’s worth I strongly advise mistaking plum blossoms for cherry blossoms in Japan.

Click on the photos for a much sharper experience.





How to almost miss out on an Indian Visa

I feel numb and am struggling to think straight. I’ve had this trip in my sites for around two years now, especially the Kumbh Mela, and we (my wife and I) fly tomorrow at 4 p.m.

But lets go back to mid-December for a minute where I realised it was time to start the visa process. I check my passport. 5 and a half months remaining before I have to get a new one. I check the Indian Embassy Tokyo website and discover that I need at least 6 months (standard procedure).

I call the Embassy.

Me: Is five and a half months sufficient? I’m only going for 2 weeks.
Embassy: No. Not at all. You need 6 months under Indian law.

That evening I check the British Embassy website in Tokyo and discover that unlike in the past, new passports are processed in Hong Kong. Mild panic ensues but I still have plenty of time.

The next day (December 22nd) I get everything organised and posted off to Hong Kong.

I wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally on January 15th my new passport arrives. On the 16th I head straight to Immigration in Nagoya to get my Permanent Residency stamp transferred to the new passport and then send everything off for my Indian visa later that day.

On the 17th I get a call from the Embassy saying that British nationals now have to pay more. Oh, and the forms that I downloaded from the website are no longer being used. You need new ones.

Embassy: You have to pay ¥23,000
Me: But the website says it’s ¥9,000 or so.
Embassy: It’s changed for British nationals.

I later find out that the Indian government announced on the 15th that they were nearly doubling the price of visas for British nationals starting on January 16th, the day before my application arrived.

I think better of wasting time arguing and just send the money. Everything arrives Monday morning. Another call from the Embassy.

Embassy: Your forms are filled out wrong.
Me: Why? What’s wrong.
Embassy: You’re permanent address is in Japan.
Me: Yes, that’s right. I live in Japan. I have permanent residency and have lived here since 2001.
Embassy: You need a permanent British address.
Me: But I live in Japan. I’m no longer a U.K. resident.
Embassy: What about your parents? If they live in the U.K. write down their address.

Again, I don’t see any point arguing with Indian bureaucracy and just get on with it. I send it all again and haven’t heard from them since.

The Embassy tell me to include proof of my flight itinerary because it’s now getting pretty close. But they know I need it before Feb. 2nd.

Fast forward to now. This very minute. My wife’s visa (Japanese), which cost ¥2,300 or so took three days and arrived earlier in the week. My friend, Sean Lotman (American) paid ¥12,300 or so and it took seven days.

Mine cost ¥23,000 and after 11 days still hasn’t arrived.

We fly in 25 hours.

I know I could have sent off my application a little earlier but even so, I can’t quite get to grips with the cost and time differences.

And I’m writing this post in a vain attempt to tempt fate and a knock on the door from Japan Post with my passport and visa.

Oh, and this is trip number 6, so it’s not as if they don’t know who I am.



Japan Post didn’t show up so I called the Embassy. The visa will be here tomorrow before 12:00.

4 hours before we fly.

That was VERY close and not recommended. I need a beer.

1891 Mino-Owari Earthquake

Early last year I decided to do a little research and find out more about earthquakes in Japan. I was quite surprised to discover that the strongest inland earthquake ever recorded in Japan was little more than an hours drive from my home. The 1891 Mino-Owari Earthquake (also known as the Great Nōbi Earthquake 濃尾地震) struck central Japan early in the morning of October 28th, 1891.

The second photo below shows the fault line and how much the earth moved. It moved at least 3 metres from what I could see but official records put the estimate at around 6 metres.

Nowadays the tiny village at the epicentre hosts a small coffee shop called M8, a deserted photo stand where tourists can get a snapshot of themselves next to the fault line, as well as one of the most famous cherry blossom trees in central Japan.

You can read more by following this Wikipedia link.