Yatsugatake Camping

Yatsugatake

After my successful initial camping trip to Mount Daibosatsu I felt confident enough to try something a little more ambitious so got working on a plan for a multi-day hike/camp to Yatsugatake (八ヶ岳), a volcanic mountain range on the border between Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures. Read more

Mt. Daibosatsu Camping

Daibosatsu Forest

Quite by accident, summer 2015 turned into a series of camping trips, starting with my brief overnight stay at Freemont Peak where I caught the bug for it. After returning to Tokyo I resolved to undertake a multi-day adventure and started researching my options and the equipment I’d need. Read more

Hachioji Festival

Hachioji Matsuri

For a few weeks every summer in Japan the streets of neighbourhoods around the country come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of traditional festivals (matsuri 祭) usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple. Notable matsuri often feature processions including elaborate floats (dashi 山車), which are pulled through the town, accompanied by performers and musicians. Read more

Master of Nets

Master of Nets Garden Map

On an overcast day in July this year I made a return day trip to Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, known for its canals, bridges and classical gardens. Read more

Demystifying Wabi-sabi

Photo by Phil Shirley

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of thing unconventional.

While sitting beneath the cherry blossoms at a typical Hanami (“flower viewing”) party in Japan it’s easy to forget that behind the alcohol-fueled revelry you’re actually taking place in a very particular form of appreciation centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Aesthetic ideals are central to Japan’s cultural identity and the Japanese language has all sorts of fancy words for describing our feelings towards how we perceive the world but underlying them all is the notion of wabi-sabi (侘寂). Read more

Yumenoshima Park

Yumenoshima Park

Back in 2013, shortly after I had moved to Japan, the language school I was attending at the time took us on a class outing to Yumenoshima Park (夢の島) for a sports day (as if we were 10 years old…). Literally meaning “Dream Island”, Yumenoshima Park was built on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay using waste landfill. Read more