Where should I go? Making a travel guide and get incredible autumn photos


In short, I will make a travel guide for a autumn-colours tourist spot here in Japan.

There is fledgling community of patrons following JapanesePhotos.Asia at Patreon.com/ablyth. There, I post a photo a week and share travel guide information for followers. From the 1st October a poll opens only for patrons in the $5 tier. I am looking forward to hearing your ideas on where I should go. I hope to create a great travel guide for a place to see autumn colours here in Japan. If we get enough funding, then I can travel to more adventurous places, or get the help of models (may be in a kimono).

Join the community, have your say, and access content including photos. Usually, these photos cost USD$25 each, but the minimum is $1 or $5 (whatever you can chip in).

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Totoro’s house

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, all future travel articles, travel info, and travel guides will be published on our new Patreon project. Currently, it’s called 52 Photos of Japan, but perhaps 52 Facts About Japan is better. Whatever it’s called, it is ladened with info about this weird, beautiful, some times crazy, sometimes delightful land. Today’s new blog post is a travel guide about how you can visit Satsuki and Mei’s house, a replica from the beautiful iconic classic My Neighbour Totoro. See it at Patreon.com/ablyth.

  • Photos: me
  • Story: me
  • Model: Chiaki 

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Yashica vs. Nikon: Yashica wins

Every company wants news about them to go viral, but not like how it went viral for Nikon. I didn’t even know this, until FStoppers released a news story that had these points

  1. Nikon released the new and amazing D850 (Ok, I knew this)
  2. Nikon recently announced an all star team of photographers
  3. The all star team would promote the Nikon D850
  4. They are all men

I also noticed that the team exclusively consists of Caucasians, Central and East Asians. The main points I see is that there are no women, and it represents a racial profile that suits Nikon. It was also pointed out by a Twitter member (sorry, I forgot who), that the Nikon president doesn’t want to show women using cameras, as it would appear that the cameras would be too simple. Pure sexism. To be fair, in the global group they have one Italian woman included.

Image from FStoppers

 

In contrast is Yashica, this week hinted a new chapter in their company’s history with this video showing a young Japanese woman using a vintage camera, a smartphone adapting lens, and a hint of something new in the works.

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WIN a FREE website in September with us and HelloSpace.Me

JapanesePhotos.Asia has started a new project at Patreon.com/ablyth, where we will share:

  • 1 new photo each week with a short story about Japan (you can keep the photo for personal use on your own blogs), and
  • Each month, a new travel guide entry, or
  • A photographic how-to (great for beginners and travellers)

This project is really new, and we have BIG plans for it. It is exciting, and will be loaded with travel advice, travel information, and photographic ideas to make your next big trip fantastic. Best part is: It’s super cheap AND you can join in the discussion. Most travel books provide information one-way. Here, we will build a community, and you can have your say on what we can do next. That’s right, if you want to know more about a place in Kyoto, and other people agree, we can take you there with our Patreon blog.

We’ve teamed up with HelloSpace.Me the leading provider of websites for education and lifestyle people and groups.

WIN a FREE website from HelloSpace.Me

WIN a FREE website from HelloSpace.Me

The competition

Want your own .com web address and website? Yes, you can be one of five people to win the first year of your own website FREE from HelloSpace.Me. To enter, simply Become a Patron to our Patreon.com/ablyth blog in September 2017 and you’re in the running. Winners will be announced both here, Patreon.com/ablyth, and at HelloSpace.Me/blog. The prize is over USD$130 of webspace and domain for your own website*.

You will get:

  • The Lite Plan with 3Gb webspace, easy one-click install of WordPress and many other web apps, upto 5 email addresses, and more (see the Lite Plan here).
  • Domain registration (for your own web address) choose a name with one of the following TLDs: .com .audio .ca .cn .eu .nagoya .net .nl .nz .one .org .pro .ru .space .tokyo .uk .us  (USD$20/yr limit).
  • If you prefer a different TLD like .blog .me or .photo then you will still get the 3Gb webspace free, but you will neet to pay for the domain registration (web address registration) yourself. Full list of TLDs is here.
  • Choose your web address / domain registration at: https://hellospace.me/host/index.php.
  • Cost of renewal after the first year is: domain registration plus Lite Plan fees (current discounted cost: USD$60) plus taxes.
  • Winners to be announced 1st October 2017, and will be chosen at random.
  • Follow us on Twitter.com/japanesephotos Instagram.com/japanesephotosasia Patreon.com/ablyth
  • Follow HelloSpace.Me on Twitter.com/hellospaceme.

Best of luck

* Based on normal industry prices: https://hellospace.me/about-webhosting/compare-us/.

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New news: So let down, and so thrilled

There’s two things that have got me down this week, but at the same time two things more than make up for it. Let’s start with the good, and I promise to end with a funny comment.

As readers know, this week has been a busy one for me. I’ve continued to set up and added to the new Patreon.com/ablyth page, and I’m preparing the 52 Week Japan Photos project (a full weekend and then some is still required). The first patron exclusive photo went out on Friday night. The other good thing is I’ve submitted a proposal to KickStarter, and hopefully they will understand it and approve of it. If not, I’ll find new ways to promote the cost-share product shoot.

The first thing that has let me down also relates to Kickstarter. I supported the Rigiet smartphone gimble. It was meant to be delivered in June, however, at time of writing, I’m still waiting. I got the delivery tracking number at the end of July, but still no movement. Apparently, the company that makes it chose a bad shipping company and had “problems” (as they vaguely described). However, in the last few days people in the US and Europe have been saying that they’re getting theirs. Another, “however” is that it doesn’t work properly. They are reporting that it is so bad it’s unusable. There appears to be no Android app, it doesn’t calibrate, batteries are faulty, and the motors don’t seem strong enough to support the iPhone. Other people are reporting that they didn’t get the GoPro mount adapters they also ordered. Most disconcerting of all is the lack of communication from the Rigiet company. They are reactionary in their communication, but also they do not respond to many people’s requests for refunds.


The Rigiet gimble, apparently DOA.

 

The company that should be doing it right is Amazon Japan. My old external drives started to act unreliably, and with 17 years of data and photos stored on them, it’s time to upgrade. So, I recently ordered and started to set up a RAID storage system.  The latest step was to add an 8Tb hard drive to the system. This is a very important step, as it would be a backup drive for what is already set up, and allow me to reorganise all my current storage systems so it all is consolidated. However, this morning my joy sank immediately on opening the box.

The 8Tb Seagate hard disk drive was only protected by bubble wrap and box of corn flakes.

The 8Tb Seagate hard disk drive was only protected by bubble wrap and box of bran flakes.

As you can see, the ¥27,000 (about $300) Seagate 8Tb hard drive was not in a normal protective packaging, but in bubble wrap, thrown in lose with the breakfast cereal. The most crucial element of a storage and RAID system is the trust you have that it will not fail; at least it should last a few years. However, this HDD was simply sitting on the floor of the box, sandwiched between the corn flakes and spacer paper added. Hard disk drives cannot be bounced around, and they cannot suffer hard jolts from being on the floor of a delivery truck. Added to that, there are people on Amazon.jp saying that their devices failed within months (1-star feedback). I cannot risk having a system failure, and I cannot risk losing 17 years worth of data on a very large disk, where one small bit of damage can undermine the whole system. Consequently, I’m returning it. I hit the return button on Amazon within 10 minutes of receiving it.

As you can see in the images above, the boxes were damaged, and one was partly open, allowing the world to see what brand of laundry detergent I use.

However, simply returning items to Amazon isn’t simple. There are reports of people being banned for returning too many faulty or problematic items (The Guardian). I worry that this may affect my standing with Amazon, but Amazon isn’t the only online marketplace… though there is no comparison.

In any case, I got my bran flakes delivered for me. Yay! I love the twenty-first century!

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First Pateon-exclusive post gets published tonight

We’ve started our two Patreon projects:

  1. 52 Photos of Japan (weekly)
  2. Travel info, guide, travel photo articles

The first Patreon exclusive content goes out at 7pm tonight (Friday) Japan time. It includes a free photo normally worth USD$25/photo, for JUST $1 or $5/post. Find us at Patreon.com/ablyth.

 

A young Japanese lady in Asakusa, Tokyo.

A young Japanese lady in Asakusa, Tokyo.

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New exclusive work on Patreon

We have published a lot of great travel articles, travel guides, and more here on our blog. However, we don’t get paid for it. A lot of people are able to benefit for free, but we struggle to afford the trips and the models we need. Consequently, we will be doing two new projects on Patreon.Com/ablyth.

  1. The 52 Week Japan Photo Project, a photo per week will be given for free to patrons.
  2. All new travel articles and travel guides will be published on our Patreon page; we hope to eventually do this monthly. Included will be large-sized photos that patrons can download and use without any watermarks. Patrons can also use these photos for their own personal use including blogs.

Become a Patron!

Various Japan-related scenes.

Various Japan-related scenes.

Become a Patron!

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5 Times to avoid travel in Japan

Sadly, this is the last time we will publish a travel related article for free on our own blog. However, we have not given up, and we will not quit. We have lots, lots, LOTS more to write about, photograph, and share. All our new travel articles will be published on our Patreon page.

I’ve had models come from overseas and want to work with me, and I’ve had to give them warnings and advice on moving about in Japan. Generally, there’s a few key pieces of information that all travellers must have. You simply cannot just turn up and expect everything to work; in this otherwise well managed, smoothly functioning country.


 

Japanese get very few holidays and little chances of having time off. They are expected to work like slaves through out the year and their lives. For instance, even though legally maternity and paternity leave is generous, generally men can get only really the day of their child’s birth off (and may be a couple more days). That means, there’s just a few opportunities in the year to do things like head back to their home towns. Many Japanese were raised in a different city to where they currently work. Consequently the transport system gets very, very, clogged at the start and end of the holiday periods. Major companies used to coordinate their holidays to be held at the same time, so that it was easy for staff to know if another company is contactable on particular days or not. This led to Friday afternoon jams on public transport like the bullet train, airports, and highways. A two hour trip could become an eight hour ordeal. At the end of the break the so called “U-turn” rush is just as bad. Companies kept this schedule for decades, but only recently have they started to relent to pressure to stagger their holidays, or offer “flexible” holiday periods for their employees. Flexible in quotation, as their is still heavy restrictions on when they can start and end their breaks.

The major holidays

1. The Golden Week Break

This is a collection of holidays including Children’s Day that were bunched together because having a scattering of days off was too disruptive for companies. The GW holiday usually starts from the last few of days of April and ends at around the 5th of May. The exact dates vary from year to year, and depends on when the weekend is.



The bullet train is known by the locals as the “shinkansen”

2. The New Year Break

The New Year holiday replaces the family focused Chinese or Lunar New Year (CNY) that was celebrated until this post-war period began, and is now largely forgotten from Japanese culture. For European cultures, Christmas is the big family time of year, but CNY was that for Mandarin influenced cultures. Today in Japan, they have completely adopted the Gregorian Calendar, and so the European New Year is celebrated instead. The break normally starts at around the 27th December (depending on when the weekend is), and lasts until about the first weekend of the new year. Usually, you would have to avoid travelling on that first Sunday.

3. The Mid-summer festival break

This is also called Obon in Japan. In Mandarin influenced cultures, this is a mid-summer feast to celebrate the end of harvest. In post-agrarian Japan, it seems this is largely forgotten, and is known as a holiday to celebrate the ancestors. It used to be held according to the lunar calendar, but since Westernisation in the late 1800’s, the holiday was fixed to the Gregorian rather than the lunar Calendar, but is still a floating holiday. It generally runs from around the 11th to 16th August each year (depending on the companies). It’s not an official holiday, and so government offices are still open, and many services still operate on normal schedules.

On any given day

4. In the mornings

The subways can be crazy-crowded, especially in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. The times to avoid generally vary by station, by section, and especially by line. Generally avoid the main lines that connect to central nodes, especially between 7.30am to about 8.10am. If you take the train during this rush period, you won’t be standing only shoulder-to-shoulder (yes, let your imagination run wild). If you have a backpack, it’s best to wear it on your front when inside the train.

 



An office worker at a subway station probably wondering how to get home after an after-hours get together.

 

5. Late at night

Two things to be mindful of. The last subway train can run from around 11.40pm to maybe 12.20am. This means, if you miss it, expect an expensive taxi ride home. Check hyperdia.com for train times. The other thing is if there’s a special event or festival. Subway stations are not designed for big event crowds. So when a fireworks display, a baseball game ends, or even a town festival ends, crowds will generally descend on the closest (often only) nearby train station all at once. Don’t plan on any taxis being available, or even a way to drive anywhere between the event and the train station. Crowds can be so thick that even traffic wardens can keep cars at traffic lights waiting for over half an hour or longer, if the roads were allowed to be open at all.



Some festivals can attract crowds of anywhere between 100,000 for a small local festival, to many hundreds of thousands.

 

Bonus: Kyoto on any given afternoon

Kyoto residents are proud of their city’s heritage. So beautiful is it, that a captain in WWII in the US military who was tasked to choose bomb sites said that the city has such a cultural and architectural heritage that it should be spared from all bombing. Today, hoards of tourists descend on the city on a daily basis. Many Japanese and Chinese tour groups have their own buses, but North American and European travellers tend to find their own way about town. Consequently, when all the tourist places close at 4.30 or 5pm, suddenly, there are hoards of tourists all trying to cram onto buses or take taxis simultaneously. Consequently, the roads and buses are clogged with lots of very tired travellers and locals.



A Kyoto City bus in the afternoon just before tourist sites close for the day.

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