A gigantic robot, Lego and shooting toy cars. Random photos from October
Each month I take a few hundred photos as I wander around Japan, or share something from my expansive archive. These are a few from the past month I shared on Twitter or Tumblr, and something of the stories behind them.
Fixing the traffic lights
Taken many, many years ago in London. This gentleman was busy fixing the traffic lights, which I’d never seen before. Funny how the simplest things can be so interesting.
A statue in Suma
This has been lurking on my drive for a while, waiting for me to edit it. I’m not entirely sure who the statue is of, although I think they’re connected to education. Being a bit of a muppet, I forgot to do my usual “photo of the plaque on my phone” for later reference.
Tetsujin 28, Nagata
If you’re familiar with 1960s Anime you might have seen Tetsujin 28-go. It was one of the first series to feature giant robots, and found it’s way onto some Western TV screens as “Gigantor.”
The original manga was written by Yokoyama Mitsuteru, who was born in Suma Ward, Kobe. After the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, the city erected many monuments reflecting on the devastation and resilience of Kobe’s population. Tetsujin-28 is perhaps the most striking of these, perhaps the most obscure.
As much a celebration of Yokoyama’s influence on the mangaka who followed, you’ll find this 10 metre tall monument a short walk from Shin Nagata station.
Bonus: Tetsujin 28-go at night
A few days later I happened to be in Nagata again, this time at night.
Seen on a wall in Okura beach. My guess is the owner was one of the fishermen who used them to put bait on a hook, set them down and forgot all about them.
The Myohoji river
Venture into any Japanese city and you’ll find rivers running through deep concrete channels. These flood defences protect the homes and businesses from the worst rains and typhoons can bring.
Step outside the cities and you might expect nature to take over. Afterall, the Japanese are famed for harmony with nature.
Maybe, but not always. This channel has just been completed in the valley behind my home. What looks like a trickle quickly becomes a torrent after rains as water flows in off the steep mountain sides. There’s so much energy that I can hear it when I step outside.
Without channels like this, valuable and scarce farmland could easily be washed away.
Shrines, shrines everywhere
If you spend any time in Japan you’ll soon realise there are shrines everywhere. Not just in the temples, but also on street corners or alongside random paths. Usually you’ll see a small box in front, into which you’re supposed to drop a coin or two as an offering to whichever spirit is nearby.
I usually keep a few small denomination coins on me for such occasions. If ever I take a photograph of one, I’ll be sure to drop in an offering as thank you.
Kobe has a few islands along her shore constructed from reclaimed land. Port Island is the largest at a couple of kilometres in length. There’s a mix of housing and commercial property on the island, a couple of parks, a zoo and IKEA. Road access is via a bridge or a tunnel, and there’s an unmanned monorail that’s worth a visit in its own right.
This is one of the main arterial roads that cut across the island. They’re surprisingly straight and offer some dramatic views of both the island’s architecture and the docks.
For my birthday in May, Mrs H bought me a Lego model. Finally I got around to making it.
Next I’m planning on building the Millennium Falcon I bought myself back in 2013.
Improvised home studio
I collect toy cars, and I’ve started to photograph them. At the moment there’s a backlog of over 50 to shoot.
When I finally settled on a decent rig to shoot them, I took photos so I could reconstruct it when I do the next batch.
I’m using an LED beauty light, my FujiFilm X-T20 is on a tripod and its connected to the iPad Pro via FujiFilm’s software. This lets me control the shutter remotely, eliminating vibration from using a slightly long shutter speed.
Procession at Uji
A visit to Uji inspired my mini-rant about the size of European cars. Before I got to the sweeping roads, I stumbled into a Buddhist festival being held on the banks of the river. Initially described by Mrs H as “people cosplaying”, it transpired this was a procession about to set off into the main arena for a display of Kabuki Theatre mixed with ritual.
Anyway, I managed to snap a couple of shots of the procession as it made its way. This caught my eye for the juxtaposition of the women in traditional costume, and their two compatriots with more modern garb and interests.
The joy of getting lost
Where I live is hiking territory. There are numerous trails and paths dotted about running up into the mountains or down to the sea. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk with no particular purpose in mind, head off for an hour and then navigate my way home.
(Map reading is a skill I acquired in my youth!)
I came across this while off on one such walk. It wasn’t meant to be a long walk, maybe an hour and 5km. Only I lost track of time as I was deep in my thoughts, and ended up covering 12km over nearly 2-and-a-half hours.
The joy of these walks is you never quite know where you’ll end up, or what you’ll see along the way. Like a man made reservoir irrigating the rice fields in the valley below.
We’d been meaning to try this place for months. It’s on Route 2, the main highway from Kobe through Himeji and replaced a reasonable steak restaurant. Anyway, the conclusion is the food is good, although the seating is a bit small for a 182cm high Westerner.
It’s also an excuse for sharing the only Japanese joke I know:
The only Japanese joke I know: