Category Archives: Travel

Japan – before I knew I liked taking photos: Part II

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“Culture in the sum of all the forms of art, of love, and of thought, which, in the course of centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved”~Andre Malraux

My previous post highlighted my time in Shizuoka. This one has photos from my first 6 months in Japan. I landed in Osaka in 2001. Young, alone and ready for adventure. Ready to be immersed in modern Japanese culture.

It is a great place to first go to due to its proximity to some of the Japan you would be familiar with from movies etc.

When I was first in Osaka, I was a little overwhelmed by its vastness and ugliness. This was short-lived. I found lots of beauty in that concrete jungle: There was the roof-top Shinto shrine I spied out the window of the building I worked in. One day a work mate took me to some Botanical gardens. We just lay on a blanket and looked up at the trees, enjoyed the serenity and silence that was a huge contrast to, say, walking down Shinsaibashi with a million other people.

I found that the bottom of the OCAT building was a popular place for break-dancers to practice at night time. They did the most amazing synchronised dancing.

I travelled to Kobe at Christmas time and sipped a Gingerbread latte while looking at the Illuminarie, a beautiful light tribute to all that perished in The Great Hanshin Earthquake.

In Kyoto, a short train ride from Osaka, I saw some classic Japanese images: Maiko on the streets, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Gion, temple after temple after temple. I even took part in a traditional tea ceremony.

In the depths of winter I stayed in a Buddhist monastery at Mount Koya. It was 6 below INSIDE when the monks woke me for morning prayer at 5am. A new definition of cold was born for me in those mountains.

And in a strange juxtaposition to the horrors associated with the place, Hiroshima has the most beautiful and serene park I have ever visited in its memorial gardens.

Just before I moved to Shizuoka I was lucky enough to go to the Spring Sumo Tournament. WOW.

All of this captured on a point and shoot, non-zooming Pentax film camera. I can’t wait to go back there with my digital SLR. I can’t wait to take my children to see this amazing country.

      

      

      

   

   

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Japan – before I knew I liked taking photos: Part I

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“In Japan they say,
Cherry blossoms mean it’s spring.
But it’s not spring here”~ Shellie (Haiku)

It is certainly not Spring here. I’m a whole hemisphere away, in the opposite season.

I lived in Japan a while. I saw so many amazing things. When I first went to Japan in 2001 I had this Pentax, point and shoot film camera. It did not zoom. It had a flash that would take it’s sweet time charging up. I had no real idea of it’s focal distance. I had no idea what focal distance really meant!!

In the middle of 2002 I got a digital camera. It was a Cannon Powershot A40. I still have this camera. It doesn’t work anymore, but the kids play with it. I took some alright photos with that camera. It was pretty decent. But most of the photos I took in Japan were on that old Pentax film camera. I remember being amazed when I took it to be developed at a). How cheap is was to print photos in Japan and b). How cool it was that you could get the photos on CD for a small extra fee!! Radical!

Here are the first of some of my Japan photos. I didn’t do any editing. They are all as shot on either the Pentax film camera or the amazing 1.9 megapixel technology of my first ever digital camera. Just looking through them brought back so many memories. In the 8 years I have been back in Australia some of the finer details of my time in Japan had escaped me.

Like how the sunset looked out of my bedroom window. Of exactly how Mt Fuji looked from my kitchen sink (partially obscured). How I would ride my bike to the other station in Shizuoka so I could sit and look at Mt Fuji while I waited for my train to work. The guy on the scooter that had a monkey and a dog in the front basket. The old guys that used to play chess (maybe chess…probably not chess) at the bottom of the little mountain near my house. The day I decided to climb that little mountain! The Izakaya we used to always go to. The time I went camping in the mountains and found the AMAZING sunflower fields.

Ahhhh, Japan. These photos are all taken from my time in Shizuoka which is on the coast near the base of Mt Fuji, south of Tokyo. I lived there the longest. I also lived in Osaka before this, but I’ll save those pictures for another day. They are truly funny.

            

      

      

      

Lost Children

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“The light of a distant star continues to reach the Earth long after
the star itself is gone.”~Author Unknown

Yesterday I drove over to Daylesford to visit the Primary School. I’m sort of job hunting, you see. I thought I would visit both the Primary and Secondary schools, introduce myself and leave my contact details in hope of emergency teacher work.

I hadn’t been back to the historic Primary school building in 20 years. Directly inside the main entrance, the walls are covered in honour boards and  the one that caught my eye in particular was the Graham Dux award. I had won that in 1991. There is a story behind the award which has been given to a girl and a boy each year (or in my year, 2 girls and a boy) since 1888.

It is a sad story. A tragedy. But a triumph, also, in town comraddery. A story I grew up hearing from my grandmother as a warning about the perils of winter in Daylesford. It is the story of the Lost Children.

On June 3oth, 1867, four young children set out to look for wild goats on an old bush trail. After a while, one headed home, but the other three continued on looking for adventure. The children were William Graham (7) Thomas Graham (4) and Arthur Burman (5). They were spotted by a couple of people throughout the day, but come dinnertime they had not returned home.

Families began a search and were joined by hundreds of townsfolk. Shops remained closed that week as everyone was out looking. At the end of July, tired and disheartened town folk searching with trackers in the wet, miserable conditions, finally gave up the search.

Three months later on September 13th Michael McKay, who lived in the Wombat Forest, saw his dog playing with a child’s boot. Inside it he found the remains of a foot. Eventually, after an intense search of the area, McKay made the heartbreaking discovery of the children’s remains. They had taken shelter in a hollow tree and died of exposure.

From Table Hill, where the children set off, to where their remains were found on Wheeler’s Hill is 15.5km. That is an amazing distance for small children to walk.

Having one or both of my children die is really my worst nightmare these days. The sensation I get when I suddenly can’t find one in the supermarket stops my heart. When I lose sight of them in the playground I get a sense of dread deep in my stomach.

The Graham family set up a scholarship to be awarded to a grade 6 girl and boy at Daylesford Primary School in 1888 as a mark of appreciation for the generosity and hard work of Daylesford in searching for their children.

There are several reminders of the boys in town. They have a large monument in their honour in the Daylesford cemetery. A cairn and small garden mark the spot where they were found. At the roundabout in the middle of town is a bronze horse carrying three small children.  Artists have painted about the story. Orienteers have laid out a course which they think the children likely followed.

There is an official walking trail in town from Table Hill to Wheeler’s Hill that can be followed. I recommend taking the walk in the middle of winter to get a sense of what it really might have been like for 3 boys alone and lost in the woods.