Archive for TGIF

New #TGIF Photos out now and more coming

New TGIF photos of my favourite models have finally been completed (it’s been a painfully busy time for me). The first batch are already on my PhotoShelter portfolio (Chihiro & Brooke), and more will be soon added to my agent’s website.

A caucasian and Japanese woman in a bar with wine.

A Caucasian and Japanese woman in a bar with wine.

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.

#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, 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),

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.

Valentine’s Day

May all the chocolates, flowers, kisses you want come your way. St Valentine’s Day is celebrated in different ways in different countries. For instance in Europe and North America, it’s a day when couples both treat each other, well, usually it’s the guy who organises a special dinner at a restaurant, flowers, and chocolates. However, in Korea and Japan, it’s the woman who makes the first move by giving a guy she likes a small box of chocolates. Then on March 14th the guy reciprocates. However, in Korea on 14th April, if a guy didn’t get anything from a girl on 14th February he then needs to eat black food (usually black soybean noodles) so his soul doesn’t wander forever lonely if he should die without finding love. For both Korea and Japan, the Valentine’s ritual is just for young couples, and not so much for married people. For this photo, and others like it, see my PhotoShelter portfolio and my agent’s website, or go here for the St Valentine’s Day gallery.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

#TGIF Sumo starts on Sunday

That’s right, the Tokyo Winter Tournament starts it’s fifteen day run from Sunday. Tickets are available from web vendors like this one (no affiliation), and you can view it online on your very own computer from morning to 6pm Tokyo time, Watch Sumo Online. The cheapest tickets are about ¥1,000 (USD$10; far back, up in the rafters), and the most expensive are the tiny box seats from about about ¥40,000 (USD$400). This year, it may be the year Hakuho loses his dominance, and a whole new generation may displace my long-time favourites. It should be an exciting year. See my sports gallery for sumo photos, and my agent’s website. Also, I do have a sumo photo video.

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