Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

New year, a level crossing and long walks. Images from January 2023

Photograph of railway tracks vanishing underneath a bridge

The new year is already a month old, and I’ve taken more than 300 photographs already. These are a few of the ones I shared on Social Media in January with a little bit more of the stories behind them.

Welcoming the new year

Photograph of a lantern hanging from the roof of a Buddhist temple

The start of a new year in Japan is often celebrated with a visit to the local temple. This year I ventured down to the one in Suma as part of a planned walk around the area. It wasn’t as busy as I expected, and there were none of the queues I’d seen before.

That said, I decided against shoving my camera in front of everything in sight and left people to reflect in peace.

If you want to find out a bit more about this important temple, I wrote about it’s origins in plagues and war last year.

Tempus Fugit

Photograph of a path in Japan with bare cherry trees either side, waiting for spring to bring the blossom

I’ve often walked this path, but I think this is the barest I’ve seen it. Still, in a few weeks time the bare branches will be covered with the pink and white cherry blossom of Sakura. Look closely and you can see the buds already forming.

Skating in Osaka

Photograph of people skating on an outdoor ice rink in Osaka. In the centre of the image is a bright Orange mascot which people are skating around

Cities in Japan need 2 things to prove they exist: a Ferris wheel and an ice rink. The latter only comes out at year’s end.

View down the tracks

Photograph of railway tracks vanishing underneath a bridge

When I take photos like this I don’t stop walking. I ‘break step’, a slight hesitation as I snap the shot so the camera isn’t moving.

Nor am I looking through the view finder (this was shot on my phone). I keep alert so I don’t trip over the tracks.

Finally, I only shoot on level crossings, and only if I’ve been held at the barrier – it gives me the longest possible time and takes the pressure off trying to get ‘that shot’.

The number of times I’ve seen people still trying to take their shot as the bells sound, or standing mid-track to line up the perfect shot is terrifying.

The last bus home

Black and white photograph of a Japanese buss parked at a bus stop late at night

I love the design of these buses. They resemble the old cars they replaced when Kobe ditched its tram network.

They run between the railway station at Sannomiya and Meriken Park.

Actions speak louder than words?

Black and white photograph of a man sat on a plinth in front of a shrine using his phone with other people to either side giving the appearance of a queue

Sometimes we need the words to explain why the actions happened. An example:

When you look at the man in the photo above what do you see? Did he step out of the queue to focus on the message he’s composing? Did he need a rest while waiting to get into the temple?


there is no queue, just a few people who happen to be gathered together playing Pokémon Go.

The Green Post Box

Photograph of a green Victorian Post Box beside a brick wall

I shared this one on Twitter during #PostBoxSaturday (yes, that is a thing). For the life of me I couldn’t remember where I took it, and there was no metadata attached to the image.

Thankfully, the shared collective knowledge of Social Media came to my rescue and identified it as Rochester. See, sometimes Twitter does have its uses.


Photograph of 3 middle aged women in Kimono walking away from a man in a white t-shirt

This got salvaged from Instagram and shared for no other reason than I felt like it. I’ve got an album set aside on Apple Photos of the images I was sharing on Meta’s platform before I deleted my account. I’m sharing the images again when the occasion suits.

Kobe Sports Park (again)

Photograph of a statue of a woman in a 1930s style dress and hat sat on a bench

You might have noticed I visit Kobe Sports Park regularly. Usually I drive there because it’s on the way back from somewhere else. Only then I looked on a map and discovered it’s a bit under 5km to walk. So I figured I’d walk there and catch the train back. Anyway, 3 and a bit hours later I’d skipped the train, had a KFC for lunch and walked 12km.

Accidentally walking long distances seems to be a habit of mine.

Support for Ukraine

Photograph of a home made panda with a plastic bag head, wrapped in a Ukrainian Blue and Yellow flag and holding a Japanese Flag

There’s a lot of support for Ukraine here in Japan. People like to show it in different ways, from donations to fund raisers, to wearing blue and yellow clothes or putting signs up in their windows.

I came across this show of solidarity on a long walk around the nearby mountains. The gesture is well meaning, but I can’t help thinking this is going to visit people in their nightmares.

It isn’t easy being green

Photograph of two cars alone in a large car park, parked side by side.

There were two other cars when I stopped at the local supermarket. When I came back barely 15 minutes later, they were gone. Only I wasn’t alone.

This keeps happening. I assume other cars get lonely and want to snuggle up to keep warm.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.