Thursday, December 1st, 2022

Brutalism, skies and folktales: photos from November.

A black and white photograph of a woman's head and shoulders taken from a high angle with her looking into the camera and highlighted with harsh shadows

Each month I share nearly a hundred photos across social media. Some are freshly taken from my wanders around Japan. Others are dragged out of my archive for one reason or another. These are a few I shared in November on Twitter or Tumblr, and the stories behind them.

Brutalism in Tarumi

Photograph of a brutalist inspired building in Tarumi, Kobe, Japan. The main window is square and built of concrete

There’s a lot of architecture in Japan that could be inspired by Brutalism. Bold, angular structures of concrete feature heavily in everything from simple houses to expansive office blocks and museums.

This example is in Tarumi, a ward in Kobe. If you want to get married in a brutalist setting, this could be your answer.

The joy of a crowd photo

Photograph of people milling around in a multi-level complex outside a railway station in Himeji, Japan

I love photographs of crowds. Whether it’s a mass of people all crammed together, or something more “socially distanced”, there’s always something interesting to catch the eye. Often you can go back to them and discover something new.

This is from a visit to Himeji in Japan. There are a couple of treats tucked away if you look hard enough.

Thanks for the reminder.

Photograph of "2022" written in white letters on the green grass bank of a flower bed

Sometimes I forget what day it is. If ever I forget the year, I can always pop along to the local sports park, where they offer a useful reminder.

Lamp on a Lamp Post

Photograph of a handmade Japanese lamp on a lamp post outside a school.

Seen outside a local school. I guess the kids were making lamps and lanterns, and the winner got theirs displayed in a public space.

Osaka at night

Photograph of a person walking towards the camera, another with their back to it, on a raised walkway in Japan at night.

This dates from when I first moved to Japan, but popped up on my radar during a clear-out. It was shot on the move using my Nokia Smartphone. I just broke step to snap what was in front of me. If I remember rightly, it was just starting to snow, but my luck being what is it, I failed to capture it.

The Oriental Hotel

Photograph of Kobe Harborland at night. On the right is the wave shaped Oriental Hotel appearing to crash down over the lights of Meriken Park on the left.

Sunset happens pretty quickly and early now. By 6pm it’s pretty much dark, and sunset starts just after 5. This was shot from a seat under the Ferris Wheel at about 6:30pm. I had my FujiFilm X-T2 on a mini tripod beside me, and was shooting long exposures when the coast was clear.

Myodani sky (edited on Apple Photos)

Black and white photograph of a dramatic sky with bubbles of clouds seen in the gap between two buildings

If you follow me on social media, you might know I’ve just moved from Google One to Apple iCloud. It was a painful experience, mostly because of the way Apple Photos behaves. However, a week of pain was worth it for what I got in return.

Apple Photos is far superior to Google’s offering for editing on the go. It’s also better integrated into iPadOS, which makes working with the Affinity suite on my iPad Pro far simpler.

This image is one I tested a simple workflow with. It was taken on my Android phone, uploaded to Google Photos, then saved and edited in Apple Photos on my iPad, before being shared across Social Media. All worked seamlessly and without drama. I subsequently opened it in Affinity Photo 2 on my iPad, resized and watermarked it, then added it to this page.

There are still a few problems with WordPress on the iPad, not least in formatting posts, but I think this shows I can at least get a basic image post up and running while I’m on the move.


Photograph of rocks with the Japan Sea pounding against them. In the distance is an island with a small structure on it.

On the north coast by Tsuiyama is an island some 700 metres off the coast. Look at it on a clear day and you’ll see a structure. Perhaps a shrine. Maybe a temple. Surely some great monument to man’s struggle to cross oceans of time to pay homage to his ancestors.

Or maybe it was erected in the 1950s as a reminder of a folktale they forgot to tell people about, and which has since become a tourist attraction.

Hogwarts in Universal Studios, Japan

Photograph of Hogwarts castle in universal city japan at night

Having lived in Watford, UK for a few years, I have seen the model of Hogwarts Castle more than once. It’s an impressive piece of model making and for me is the highlight of the studio tour. Of course, Japan has to go one bigger and create an enormous replica of the Castle, which you can walk around inside.

Darkness was coming, and I switched my Nokia smartphone to “night mode”. I’m not 100 percent sure how it works, but it can produce some fascinating results. I think this is one of those times where imperfection is perfect. The images it created have a dreamy feel to them, as if Harry Potter was filmed at the dawn of color cinema.

A high contrast portrait

A black and white photograph of a woman's head and shoulders taken from a high angle with her looking into the camera and highlighted with harsh shadows

An old portrait photo that resurfaced while I was migrating to Apple Photos. It was shot with high contrast flash, and I figured it looked good in black and white.

You can see more of my portrait photos in my portfolio.

Slide in Itayado

Black and white photograph of a children's slide in a playground in Itayado, Japan. You're looking straight up the slide to the top of the stairs.

This image came straight off the camera. One of my black and white shots using film simulation and a 35mm prime lens. I like this combination.

Logica Pop keyboard: perfect for touch typing

Photograph of part of a Logi keyboard. On the left is the enter key, on the right are yellow emoji keys

As a touch typist I value a decent keyboard. For years I used an Apple Magic as it had a positive action that let me know when a key was pressed. You can imagine my disappointment when I bought a MacBook Pro with the loathed butterfly keyboard.

After moving to Japan, I went in search of a decent Japanese layout keyboard. I thought I found one – only the E key broke, and then other keys started to come away. All in less than 6 months.

This Logitech POP Keyboard has been a breath of fresh air. It has a positive, mechanical feel to it that’s more like using a typewriter than a computer. It makes a beautiful clicking noise as well. Only downside is the emoticon keys on the far right. I have a habit of tapping them when I mean to hit Enter. My fault, of course. I’ve been using the same layout for years, so the occasional slip-up can be forgiven.

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.