Friday, 31 October 2014

Day 303: There was something about...

Day 303: ...the shapes. 

Back to the Archive challenge. Four folders, one, maybe two days left. I've been averaging two folders a day for the last week or so...

Meanwhile, there was something about a particular shape that caught my eye today. 

Once I saw it on the train...

The colours and patterns caught my eye (Namboku line)
I saw it trying to grow in the street...

And of course, I was familiar with it from the streetscape of Tokyo...


And whenever you look...down
Somedays, that's all the #project365 is about...

Did I get through the all four remaining folders? YEEESSS! I now have over 1600 (pics of) docs to work through when I get home. Phew. 

Tomorrow, it's off up north to a 10th Anniversary celebration for one of our partner universities. Akita. North. Cold. Trains, more trains. Possible snow. Plenty of Autumn Leaves.

Should be interesting. 

End of Halloween sale: yep, that's kit kats and pockies with seasonal pumpkin flavours
[Camera : iPhone 6, 11.18am, 11.36am, 11.39am, 11.41am]

Day 302: And so...

Day 302: other work resumes

Research, by another name, is research. Sometimes, we get to do exciting things like travel across the country, take photos, talk to people, observe. 

Other times, it's time spent in libraries and archives. Sitting. For a long time. But it too is exciting in its own way. I was very keen to get back to the archives (as much as I enjoyed getting out to Taiji and Wakayama). I worked out today there are over 3500 pages of Japanese documents archived on the matters arising from Japanese migrants to Australia--nine folders. I've made it through five so far. I have four to go and really just one likely day left. 
Now I wasn't expecting to find you here, in 1900, in Japanese archival records...

Tokyo Tower had a different hue at the end of the day

Just about my favourite recent iPhone pic: no filter, just a shot on the road on the way home

It's been fascinating so far. I'm overwhelmed, and excited, by the detail. Great material for the Watanabe story. 

Will I make it to volume 9? Tomorrow only knows. 

[Camera : iPhone 6, 11.38am, 5.28pm, 7.20pm]

Day 301: A day in the 'other place'...

Day 301: wasn't so bad...

Just as Australia has its 'Sydney-Melbourne' differences, so too Japan has its 'Tokyo-Osaka' rivalry. The language is a little different, the atmosphere is too; Osakans follow the Hanshin Tigers, Tokyoites are all Yomiuri Giants. it is said that Osakans care for food (i.e. 'deep') whereas as Tokyoites are into fashion (i.e. shallow...). I don't think so. But then, I'm as much a Sydney-born Tokyoite as anyone. 

We opted to take a few hours in between train connections to have a bit of a look around (Jinko likes to look at particular castles and temples). Good day for it, but the Osaka Castle was undergoing a bit if a facelift. Oh well. 

Some good photo-ops along the way...

Sunrise as we prepare to leave Wakayama

There's something about castle walls

The kooyoo (autumn leaves) are coming

Modern, contemporary

One view of Osaka Castle

There's something about pine trees, and castle walls

Never one to let a good autumn leaf go by

The moat (there's something about walls, of castles...

...until it was time to get back on board the Shinkansen for the run home. Aways good to be back at (my second) home. 

[Camera : Canon EOS 60D, 28-80mm; iPhone 6; times various]

Day 300: Work to be done...

Day 300: to a seminar

Work today. I planned to head to the Prefectural library where I believed there to be some records of migrants who went to Australia as indentured labourers in the 1880s and 1890s. Wakayama was one of the prefectures from where many poorer Japanese went overseas to seek there fortune as it were. 

Very untourist-like, I grabbed my back and hopped on a bus to the library only to find today was its day off: closed. Oh well. Back to the city and onwards and upwards to my other appointment for the day. Meeting people at Wakayama University and sitting in on a colleague's senior seminar. 

A little morning tea: sweet potato parfait

A fountain in the relatively new mall near the University

The seminar group...

Did I mention lunch?

Just a very cool tanuki in downtown Wakayama

Turns out, I did most of the talking...students wanting my opinion on a range of issues. It was a good experience. Took me back to my undergrad experience here in Japan...nearly (well, actually) thirty years ago. Hard to believe. 

Further planning for the December lecture and I met a number of the academic staff, including one person who has specialised in the story of Wakayama's migrants from the 19th century. Sort of made up for the library being closed...

I'm looking forward to December. And getting the library on the right day!

[Camera : iPhone 6; times various]

Day 299: Last look...

Day 299: ...for now.

Since we are due to head off to Wakayama City later in the morning, I mention to Jinko I'd like to go for der back down the waterfront, an early Sunday morning walk. There's a walk around the headland I noticed on the map. I'd like to catch the sunrise. I'd also like to just see what local reaction to a lone foreigner with camera is, given the stories I've heard. 

Reflection of a whale's tail

Well, every person I walk past, offers a cheery greeting of acknowledgement, a 'good morning', which I return quite unreservedly. I figured they've worked out I'm not part of the Sea Shepherd crew and the Shigeko telegraph has worked well. 

Early morning fisherman

As it turned out, the headland was closed, ostensibly for falling rocks; but also I heard it was to make access difficult for the Sea Shepherd supporters to get around there...shame really, I'd have like to have seen the ocean from that viewpoint. The coastline from the Peninsula park yesterday was quite remarkable. 

Fishing net

As I make my way back, I get a closer look at the tsunami damage, it has left a gap on the waterfront. As Shigeko-san commented yesterday, most people forget the this coastline was affected by the tsunami which hit Tohoku and Fukushima and surrounds. She seemed just a little wistful as she spoke about that. There'll be more on the new blog.

I'l be back. There is so much more to learn about here.

Bus and then train back to Wakayama. 

Wakayama Castle

One of the loveliest floral specimens I've seen

Late sun in the temple grounds

You won't believe what this lot were up to...

The autumn leaves begin...

A Wakayama sunset from the Castle hilltop

We were shown a few of the sights by the Hashimoto's (Yosh, Jinko's husband has joined us now) nephew and then dinner in a charming little izakeya. Just lovely. Tomorrow, it's to the library and the uni, but today, we see the sights. But I'm still thinking about Taiji.

[Camera : Canon EOS 60D, 28-80mm, various times]

Day 298: Walk around Taiji town...

Day 298: ...trying to not look...conspicuous?

But I guess a foreigner with a bit more than the average compact digital camera is always going to look conspicuous, particularly in a town (actually, it feels more like a seaside village) wary of nosy foreigners...hopefully my language skills will help. Being with Jinko probably helps too. And no doubt, by the end of the day, most people will know where I'm staying and what my purpose seems like that sort of place.

Sunrise, the view from the window of the B&B
Our charming host Shigeko-san does warn us that carrying around big cameras and pointing them in other than typically tourist-scene directions, will get us noticed and we will be asked questions...if we're not careful. Hmm, OK. 

Awoke to the sounds of the local sea bird, the tonbi
Interestingly, on the way down yesterday, Jinko mentioned that if I hadn't been going to Taiji, it wasn't a place she'd have thought about going, and in fact, hadn't ever really heard much about it before I mentioned it. It is more of the map of the western mind than Japanese it seems. 

Now *that's* a bee...
It's a big day; we wander all over the town--the whaling commemoration park, the, um, 'museum' with its whale and dolphin shows, the Kachitorizaki Peninsula. Back to the village central to see the 'old town' and note a few of the graves and monuments which recognise and respect the local whaling history. 

Outside the museum is a pond. In the pond, there are many tortoises...
We head back later to the same place for dinner; I still can't bring myself to try the's just too 'black'-looking. It's nice to chat with the locals though...a second night in a row makes us regulars!

...erm, expecting food from you...
Just a few hours in the morning before we head back around the peninsula and back to Wakayama for the next three days.

Flora aplenty of course, this in a side street

And a dragonfly on the Peninsula
Its has been a most interesting and worthwhile few days*. 

[Camera : Canon EOS 60D, 28-80mm, 100-300mm; iPhone 6

*I've had another blog set up for a while, just waiting for the right moment to start. It's one I'm planning to write up the drafts of the whaling book. My excursion to Taiji will kick it off in a few days...keep watching this space. (There were over 400 pics in the end...way too many for this blog...)

Day 297: And we're off...

Day 297: one of a research trip

The next few days have been the main part of the current Japan trip. I am officially a visiting research fellow at Wakayama University's Faculty of Tourism for the 2014-15 academic year. During the year I have to present a public lecture on my research with a view to contributing to a publication. It's an honorary position but no time like the present to make use of the opportunity. 

Wakayama Prefecture offers two related components of my research: whaling and 19th century migration to Thursday Island and other parts of Queensland. Although we'd initially planned to present this time around, I'll be back in December on other university business so we've opted to put it off until then. 

But first, a little morning tea, on the train
So the focus of this trip is really about spending a few days in Taiji, recognised as one of the key whaling towns in Japan and also perhaps (in)famous for its battles with Sea Shepherd activists over whaling and dolphins. I'm going with an open mind and a researcher's curiosity (though I have a book planned).

How to do a bento (boxed lunch) in style
We (my friend Jinko has decided to join me) head down on the Shinkansen as far as Osaka and change trains, go through Wakayama City and head straight for the coast. It's about an additional three hours around the peninsula...

We're staying at a small B&B run by an acquaintance of my Wakayama colleague so I should be able to get some good insight into the place.

A gift, made by a local Taiji carpenter,
for all who would like one
Luckily, it's a good day for train-tripping. We arrive just in time to eat at the only cafe/izakeya's a very small town.

First dinner in Taiji, tuna sashimi, though whale and dolphin were also on the menu...
Tomorrow is the big exploration. Can't wait.
Taiji sunset (just in time)

[Camera : Canon EOS 60D, 28-80mm, 6.50pm; iPhone 6, 10.59am, 11.41am, 4.43pm, 6.42pm]

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Day 296: A little bit rebellious...

Day 296: ...but one shouldn't give up...

Today was a full day in 1898, or rather, in the Archives. Again. I think I've realised I won't have enough time this time around to investigate all the materials I need to look at...I'd love to take them home. I am feeling a little...rebellious...

Not unlike the high school lad I saw on the train this morning. He and his mate were sitting there quite properly, chatting away in their exclusive private school uniforms. They had that 'my life is planned out' look about them and I felt as bit sorry. When his mate got off the train though, this one fell asleep, slumped all over the seat and then I noticed his ankle socks and totally out of type! I felt a bit of relief. 


So many more interesting things in the Archives today: Like this fellow who wins the prize for the longest title, on a petition requesting the naturalisation of a long-term Japanese Thursday Island resident. (I guess he's no rebel...)

The longest title

The seal of the then Japanese Consul-General in Townsville; if I read his name once, I must have read it 100 times today. He was the busiest Consular official I've seen...

Seal and signature of the Townsville consul Iijima
On the way home, I was planning to photograph the art on the walls of each subway station on the Namboku line, just for something different. Of all the places to stop, there was this add...I gave up!
I tried...
We're off to Taiji tomorrow, whaling territory...let's see what comes of that. A little bit of history in the making...a little bit of rebellion to observe...? 

[Camera : iPhone 6, 11.19am, 2.14pm, 3.03pm, 5.46pm]

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Day 295: History...

Day 295: ...writ very large

A return to the Diplomatic Archives was always on the cards today. But I must admit, when one wakes up to a rainy day, it's a bit hard to get going. Fortunately, I spotted a little bit of colour along the way at one of the (few remaining) neighbourhood vege patches. It is one of the aspects of suburban Tokyo I've always liked and there are a few around here (though diminishing). 

In the vege patch

In the vege patch 'too'

The raindrops added a little spot of interest. 

Of the many discoveries in the Archives, this just may be
the Japanese version of what the?!  c.1897
The second part of the day included attending a presentation by the Prisoner of War Research group, a group of Japanese researchers and interested members of the community who are support greater understanding of World War Two through their research and supporting visits to Japan by Australian former prisoners of war. Today, we were fortunate to meet four men, in their 90s, along with their support people (their own adult children in most cases). There is a post coming up on the other blog...

It was a privilege to have been invited along. 

At the end of the day I caught up with an American colleague who is also in Tokyo at present. I could confess that we drank something called a 'Purple Cloud' on the 36th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel in Roppongi but since there isn't a photo....(mwhahahaha).

Perhaps the most unusual thing about the day was that the three events--archives, seminar and hotel--were all in the same district in Tokyo, within walking distance. That very rarely happens with appointments in Tokyo. 

Dessert, because a blog isn't a blog without...
Tomorrow it's back to the much more in store...

[Camera : iPhone 6, 10.01am, 10.02am, 1.49pm, 8.55pm]