Saturday, October 1st, 2022

Abandoned bikes, smiles and beachside apartments. Random photos from September.

Black and white photograph of an abandoned motorcycle lying in rough grass by the side of a road in Japan. It might be a suzuki

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.


Photograph of a back MG ZS hot hatchback car parked by a road

A brief mention of my BMW MINI led me back to the car that came after it. As much as I liked the MINI Cooper, it was a bit lifeless. Maybe there was too much software between me and the road.

When the company car went back, I found myself behind the wheel of MG’s ZR. Based on a Honda, and already out of date when it launched, this was probably the most fun I had on four wheels. It was powerful enough to feel sporty on a British road (and remain within the speed limit – honest), comfortable on a long run and practical enough to ferry my twins and our holiday luggage around.

Of course, that might have been the mid-life crisis speaking.

Beating boredom in Big Boy

Black and white photos of knife and fork handles on a dirty plate

I was sat in family restaurant “Big Boy” (insert your own double entendre here), waiting for something to happen. Out of boredom I snapped a shot of my empty plate and twiddled with the adjustments and filters on my phone until I got something I liked.

When you next find yourself waiting, instead of doom scrolling Twitter, snap a shot and have a play. I think it’s far more restful and productive than being bombarded with the latest conspiracy theory.

Jamie Laughs

Color photograph of a south asian woman in a white jacket laughing

Twitter was full of unhappy, moody models. Given the day I’d had, I wanted to share some happiness. Someone smiling or laughing. Damned if I could find one.

So I dug into my archive and dragged this up of Jamie Oon. It was from one of my early shoots, where I turned up with a brand new 200-300mm lens and spent half the shoot standing fifty metres away so I could get her in shot (OK, I might be exaggerating!) If I remember rightly, we spent most of the shoot laughing and joking in Greenwich.

Anyway, happiness achieved.

Tour de Itayado

Black and white photograph of a woman on a bicycle cycling along a pedestrian footpath

I’d positioned for the shot and barely heard the faint ding of a bicycle bell. I decided to stay where I was. There was plenty of space to go around, and whether I went left or right, I risked stepping into the oncoming cyclist.

She shot past me as if I wasn’t there, and peddled off along the path at far more than walking speed. A few seconds later a second bicycle shot past, this time unannounced. I wondered if they were in a race.

Black and white photograph of a woman on a bicycling heading off into the distance on a path with trees on either side

Mini in Himeji

Color photograph of a classic red mini in a parking lot in Japan, with suitcases on the roof, a GB sticker, L plate and teddy hanging off the bumper

The classic Mini has something of a cult following here in Japan. Initial sales were strong, and there are plenty of them still on the road, usually in exceptionally well kept condition. Albeit “adapted” for the Japanese sense of style.

This example was spotted in Himeji in an underground carpark. The owner appears to have gone all-out in giving their car a distinctly British feel. Kudos to them for it.

View over Myohoji

Black and white landscape photograph of a Japanese town with a mix of apartment blocks, houses and in the background the edge of the Japanese Alps

After a few camera woes (including the hot weather melting the glue holding the thumb rest in place), I’ve finally started carrying it around with me again. I’ve also moved back to the 35mm prime lens, which for the non-camera nerd, means I can’t zoom in and out on a scene.

This was shot during a walk around my local town and given a home-grown filter treatment afterwards. You might have a view of Japan as high-rises and bright lights, yet move away from the city centres and you’ll often find a healthy mix of affordable mansions blocks, city owned blocks and a mix of houses.

An abandoned motorbike

Black and white photograph of an abandoned motorcycle lying in rough grass by the side of a road in Japan. It might be a suzuki

When I first walked through the Myohoji valley almost two years ago I saw an abandoned motorbike. It was shrouded by long grass and weeds, and my assumption was it had been forgotten. Since that first encounter I’ve walked past it many times, often photographing it. Sometimes the grass is long, sometimes cut short. Even, as is this case, with tangled foliage pulled from within its frame.

I wonder whether this is indeed an abandoned motorbike, or an art installation that’s long since been forgotten.

Japan’s Geology

Black and white photograph of a volcanic rockface. In the foreground is a dark water pool, and behind hexagonal basalt tubes twist, turn and collide to form a rock face.

A weekend visit to the caves at Genbudo brought me face-to-face with Japan’s prehistoric geology. We all know how the archipelago sits on the “Ring of Fire” that brings regular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The country is relatively new, formed about 15 million years ago when it was pulled away from Eurasia. This opened up the Sea of Japan, and its on the coast where some of the volcanic aftermath of the separation is visible.

Genbudo has a series of “caves” where hexagonal tubes of basalt rock show how tectonic forces twisted and shaped the mountainous islands. On open display are sequences of volcanic eruptions, each slightly different as magma flowed and cooled.

A nearby museum goes into more depth, revealing some of the fossils found nearby, as well as casts of more famous specimens from around the world.

I’ve enjoyed relearning geology from school, and learning about how Japan was formed and evolved. I may have also found my route into boosting my Japanese language skills!

Tarumi on a mobile phone

Color photograph of a series of white mansion blocks in Japan. A dark building is in the middle. In the foreground is green, worn grass, and above a deep blue sky with wispy white clouds

A senior moment meant I didn’t put an SD Card back in my camera. A nuisance as I’d gone to the Mitsui Outlet Park in part for a photo walk. Undeterred, my Nokia’s camera was called into duty (again).

These mansion blocks are set back from the shore. Between them and a “bathing beach” on the Inland Sea is a narrow park, which offers a pleasant place to stroll in the early autumn sun without getting sand in your trainers.

The photo is based on the RAW image captured by the camera, and edited in Affinity Photo.

And finally, an accidental portrait

Colour photograph of a bright green car parked in a field. The car is in crisp focus, while the surrounding shrubbery and scrubland is in soft out-of-focus

Whenever I go somewhere off the beaten path, I take a photo with my phone to record the location. Usually this involves my car – Henrietta Hustler.

Without my glasses on I messed up, accidentally tapping “portrait” mode before finally pressing the shutter. To be fair, I don’t think the result is that bad. I can’t claim credit though – software did the heavy lifting.

There’s more

If you enjoyed this month’s episode, why not have a look at August’s. It features meditation, staircases and dancing statues.

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.