Tag Archive for japan

#BREAKING: Bulgarian sumo wrestler Kotooshu may be retiring

First tweets from a Japanese sports journalist, @kaznagatsuka, says Kotooshu may be quiting this tournament.

UPDATE (7.30pm 20thMar): Kotooshu’s last bout was on Tuesday against Hakuho.

Below, Kotooshu ahead of his bout where he was defeated by Harumafuji just this Monday.

Bulgarian Kotooshu in his final tournament in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

Bulgarian Kotooshu in his final tournament in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

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Out of form Kotooshu in his last tournament?

I don’t like to focus on the negative. I usually post stuff on the sumo because it’s just so fascinating. The Bulgarian Kotooshu (born Kaloyan Stefanov Mahlyanov, Wikipedia) was still the new kid on the block and a rising star when I first arrived in Japan. He was great to watch, though he made mistakes, he still had energy and enthusiasm so that he could win, and it seemed he was growing into the role of the top ranked wrestler, a yokozuna. However, he never got past Ozeki, the second highest rank and was demoted to Sekiwaki at the end of 2013. He won one tournament and the Emperor’s Cup in 2008 (Wikipedia), and he was the darling of the media, and was on all the Bulgarian Yoghurt advertisements. Throughout his sumo career he’s been plagued by various injuries to his knees and arms. This tournament is the worst I’ve seen of him perform. In fact, every time I’ve seen him live, he’s lost, and Monday was no different. However, one win for nine losses is a record that would mean he’d have to be further demoted or retire.

Below, is an in-form and on-fire Harumafuji (right) displaying his strength, whilst a very out-of-form (and possibly very deflated and demotivated) Kotooshu watches on.

In form Mongolian Harumafuji wins easily against a struggling Bulgarian Kotooshu in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

In form Mongolian Harumafuji wins easily against a struggling Bulgarian Kotooshu in the Osaka Spring Tournament.

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5 Unique things from JPA

I don’t normally blow my own trumpet or show off, but sometimes you have to sing your own praises. However, how else can credit go where credit is due in this dynamic, short-term memory age of the internet. JPA has done some things that were not previously seen on the internet before. However, I’m not claiming to be the first, but these ideas were independently thought of by me (without having seen others do it first), or revived by me. So, what is there to be so proud about?

 

5. Camera-back photos / preview & announcements

As at time of writing (mid-January, 2014), this photo of the Tado Horse festival is 624 days old. I think it is probably also the first time anyone has photographed the back of their camera and posted an update to a social network. This was posted via iPhone to Twitpic, to Twitter. Luckily, I’ve worked out how to make these camera-back photos look more interesting (recent example). Here’s the rest of my Twitpic portfolio for social networking.

#Tado #Horse #Festival The horse got over the barrier. We&#03... on Twitpic

 

4. Referencing Information

I didn’t invent referencing. The Harvard, Oxford, and APA referencing styles for academic writing has been around for much longer than I’ve been alive. However, I am one of the very few bloggers who provide links to my information sources. So if I write about the Naked Man Festival, News events, the Tado Horse Festival, the Tenjin Festival, whatever, I provide a little bit of starting information to help put my photos in context for journalists and sources to get them going.

The start of the Tenjin Festival (Tenjin Matsuri) at Tenjin Shrine, Osaka.

The start of the Tenjin Festival (Tenjin Matsuri) at Tenjin Shrine, Osaka. Photo available via my agent’s website.

 

3. Demonstrating promo photos

Surprisingly, I haven’t seen this catching on, yet. What better way to self-promote, and show how your own photos can be used? For these photos, and others like them, see my PhotoShelter Models gallery.

A young lady appearing as though she's holding a promo card.

A young lady appearing as though she’s holding a promo card.

Young lady looking as though she's holding the Twitter account holders name.

Young lady looking as though she’s holding the Twitter account holders name.

 

2. Double exposure photography

This is my favourite kind of photography, using good old fashioned film, with all it’s charisma, and lots of experimentation. Before publishing Poem of a Cacophonous City, I’ve not seen any double exposure photography on social networking sites nor photographer websites (I was never really a Flickr user at that time), except when you look up Pablo Picasso’s own work from decades before. It would seem that since publishing this set of photos, people have also rediscovered it, or are now sharing it beyond Flickr. For this photo, and others like it, see my PhotoShelter Art gallery.

 

1. Photo-videos

I don’t think I’ve the first to do this, but I’ve not seen anyone else do this one, yet. It’s simple, and I think it’s a great way to show case my work. It’s simple, choose a theme and a set of photos, or just lump all your favourite photos together, add cool music or recorded sound, and press ‘Export’, and it’s done. Here’s my YouTube Channel, and an Intro photo-video:

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#POTW Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2014

The Nagoya Women’s Marathon will be on this Sunday, 9th March. At time of writing I don’t have any specific news about it, but I suspect that it will have all of Japan’s top women competing, and tens of thousands of women, and hundreds (or thousands) of men, too. In previous years it has been an Olympic qualifying event attracting various internarion runners (previous blog posts, 2012 and 2013, blog tag ‘marathon‘). For these photos see my PhotoShelter portfolio and my agent’s website. I will probably attend the event, so new photos may be added.

Good luck to the competitors, and best wishes to all the runners entering. For everyone else, on Sunday I’ll be on Twitter/JapanesePhotos.

 

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3 March Girls Day (Hina Matsuri)

Each year on the 3rd March is Girls Day in Japan. In Japanese it’s called Hina Matsuri, which means Dolls Festival. Usually, families set up a large display in late February, like the one below, and have their daughters pose next to it for photos. The dolls are based on the Heian court, and are arranged in descending order of rank across either a five or seven tiers. Each tier and doll has a specific meaning, but generally it was or is believed that the dolls take away evil spirits. The display is usually set up in the tatami room or guest room of the house. There are special foods and drinks that girls have on the day. Some communities might host some events just for girls, but other than that, not much else happens, however, the Nagoya Womens’ Marathon is next weekend. Also see the Japan Today Girls Day story, and Wikipedia/hinamatsuri.

For this photo, and others like it, see the Girls Day gallery.

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#tgif Snow Monkeys

Looking for something to do this or another weekend? The very well known Japanese snow monkeys are actually Japanese macaques, Lt. Macaca fuscata, are the northern most living primates, other than humans. These macaques were photographed Jigokudani Monkey Park hot springs, near Yudanaka, in Nagano prefecture. To do the trip, you can take a special JR express train to Nagano city, or a bullet train, where you’ll see lots of reminders that the city once hosted the Winter Olympics, last century. You could stay in a hotel there, or take a 44min train ride to Yudanaka and stay in a holiday resort hotel. All the details of how to get there and other local info is available at this website, http://nozawa-onsen.com/. However, you should be warned that there is nothing to do at Yudanaka in the evening, and it seemed that the restaurants take turns on being open in the weekday evenings. Also, here’s a link to a monkey-cam with on the hour updates (local time), http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam/monkey/index.htm.

For this photo, and others like it, see my Nature gallery on PhotoShelter website, and my agent’s.

Since Yudanaka had a daytime high of -6°C (about 30°F), you’ll definitely need hiking thermals (shirt and long underwear type, or long johns), two layers of socks (regular & thick was fine for me), a regular undershirt, shirt, jumper (or sweater), and the thickest winter jacket for outdoor camping you’ve got. Thermals are good because they’re quick dry, and I wore regular hiking trousers, as they’re also quick dry. Regular hiking boots are fine, and may be spikes, but I didn’t use mine. Of course, you’ll need gloves, scarf, and hat. I wore a hat with a visor to keep my jacket hood out of my eyes. You will need to walk for about 30mins from a car park, and you’ll probably want to stay there for about an hour. They tell you not to bring food near the macaques, but there are lockers near the entrance gate that you can use, right next to where you’ll pay the ¥500 entrance fee.

Expect to take lots of photos.

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Foundation Day holiday

It’s the annual Foundation Day holiday today, 11th February. So, here are five facts about the public holiday. It used to be celebrated on the lunar calendar equivalent, but for convenience the Japanese have abandoned it for the Gregorian calendar.

1. What. This day marks the time when Emperor Jimmu created the throne to rule Japan in 660BC (Wikipedia/Public Holidays in Japan) and began the imperial order. The actual year is contested, and the emperor is said to have died at the age of 126 years (Wikipedia/Emperor Jimmu).

2. Why. At the time when Emperor Jimmu established the Japanese empire, much of the main island was inhabited by both Japanese and Ainu people, of which there were also Japanese tribal chiefs that Jimmu had to still militarily defeat. Jimmu was unsuccessful in defeating the cheif of Naniwa (now ‘Osaka’), but continued trying to expand ‘Japan’. Emperor Jimmu himself expanded the empire further east and north, to modern day Kii Peninsula (south of Nagoya, but east of Osaka; Wikipedia/Emperor Jimmu).

3. Legacy. Japanese expansionism in the pre-war era was attested to this emperor, and was used in Japanese propaganda, which was abandoned in 1945. The modern holiday was established in 1966, and first celebrated in 1967. In my whole time in Japan, I only came to realise the holiday existed after I took the photo below. Usually, to celebrate the holiday, young people go out on shopping dates. Not much else happens that I’m aware of, I guess because the neighbours would complain about any overt Japanese patriotism associated with the day (Wikipedia/National Foundation Day).

4. Religion. Though the emperor of Japan is also the head of Shinto, and is said to be a descendant of Jimmu, the name Jimmu is of Chinese origin and is related to Buddhism (Wikipedia/Emperor Jimmu). His mausoleum is in Kashihara, Nara.

5. Etymology. Final interesting fact, the word “Japan” does not even come from the Japanese language. This place is locally known as ‘Nippon’, ‘rising sun’. The word Japan was adopted into European languages from Malay, via Dutch explorer-traders. In fact, the word originates from Chinese, ‘Jih pun’, meaning ‘sunrise’ (Etymonline).

For this Foundation Day photo, and others like it, see my PhotoShelter portfolio, and my agent’s website.

Photo taken on film on 11th Feb, 2012. A young couple out in the trendy shopping district of Sakae, Nagoya. The Japanese national flags are seen on the side of a department store building (photo on my PhotoShelter portfolio).

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#POTW 10 Feb 2014 Naked Man Festival

This Photo of the Week is of the Naked Man Festival to be held this Wednesday. The festival began over a thousand years ago in Nara, and is held in Kounomiya, about a 20 minute train journey from the centre of Nagoya on the Meitetsu Line. It typically involves over 13,000 men (and boys), and unsurprisingly, over 180,000 spectators (more if it’s on on a weekend). The public spectacle begins at about 1pm (though you need to be there by about 11am for a good standing space), and it’s cold, and it has snowed in previous years. More information can be found in previous blog posts, and at Japan Visitor.

For this photo, and others like it, see my Naked Man Festival gallery on my PhotoShelter portfolio, and at my agent’s website. Also, here is a Naked Man Festival video for you to enjoy, entirely free.

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5 Things: Bullet Trains in Japan #infographic

It’s not often I can do a “5 Things”, and it’s even less often I can do an infographic… so much so this is my first. The 1st October will be the 50th anniversary of the first run of it (Wikipedia). The image used here, bullet train interior, can be found at my PhotoShelter portfolio.

5 Things infographic. Inside a modern bullet train of the Central JR Company.

5 Things infographic. Inside a modern bullet train of the Central JR Company.

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#POTW 27Jan 2014 Snow and mountains

This Photo of the Week is very simple. For most expats and tourists their idea of Japan at this time of year can be summed up in this simple equation:

Winter = Snow + Mountains

The number one group of tourists to Japan in this time is apparently Australian skiers, who apparently flock to Hokkaido. I’ve not been anywhere near that far north, but this is as far north of Japan I’ve been so far, and it’s still a water freezing, bone chilling -10° Celsius, it’s Shirakawa, the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For this mountain + snow photo, and others like it, see my PhotoShelter portfolio, and my agent’s website.

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