2018: Changes, Hard Work and Happy Moments

Six years. It’s been almost six years since I moved to Tokyo (and even longer since I moved to Japan). They say time flies when you’re having fun, and they would be right. In Japan, time seems to move so rapidly that it’s like you’re constantly on a treadmill watching the world whizz by. Continue reading “2018: Changes, Hard Work and Happy Moments”

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Beyond the Blog!

I remember back in Year 8 or 9, I was chatting to my school bus driver after school one day. He asked me what I wanted to be in the future. A writer, I said without hesitation. Like most kids, I read a lot when I was in primary school: mysteries, romance novels, war stories, fantasy stories, young adult books. I would stay up past my bedtime, engrossed in the lives of the characters. Not only did I love getting caught up in those stories, but I was inspired by them. I let my imagination guide my fingers as I typed page after page of my own ‘novel’. Despite my passion for writing at the time, as I went through high school, my dream job changed numerous times, and my story as well as my goal to be an author took a back seat.

So, it’s kind of strange that all these years later, I am doing what my 13 year old self wanted to do! Have you ever found yourself unknowingly living out a dream you used to have? What’s meant to be will be! Over the past year, I have had some exciting opportunities knock on my door that have kept me busy and definitely rekindled that childhood dream of writing for a living.

I had my first ever article published back in January ’15 by a travel website called Taiken Japan, which is a blogging hub full of Japan-based foreigners sharing their travel stories and outlook on life here. They were just starting to recruit bloggers, so I was free to write about whatever I liked. I contributed half a dozen articles, basically once a month, until July.

And then came an even bigger surprise. I was contacted by BBC Travel who were looking for someone to be the Tokyo representative in their Localite project. They wanted someone to introduce a side of Tokyo most travellers wouldn’t know about, focussing particularly on Tokyoites with an interesting background story. It was definitely a challenge to meet their expectations, but it was a great experience and one I’m very grateful for.

So far this year, I’ve been involved in another online project which should be going up any day now. And my next major goal is to contribute to the Lonely Planet. Ambitious, I know, but as I’m teaching my high school students at the moment, you have to set high goals and take risks in order to move forward… “If you want to see a long way, you have to build a high tower!”

Taiken Japan

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Close Up

I’m a sucker for Close Up photos! It’s fun to get right in there, up close and personal, and show a different perspective to things we have seen many times before. It’s a chance to bring the finer details, that you’d normally not take much notice of, into the spotlight.

My favourite subjects to take ‘macro’ shots of are flowers and leaves… this is probably because I know they can’t run away from in front my lens! I need something that will stay still long enough for me to figure out what I’m doing!

I find the veins on a leaf or the texture of a petal are fascinating, and trying to capture them in an interesting way is always a challenge. But living in Tokyo with so many parks around, I’m never short of chances to practice. These are a few of the close up pictures I’ve taken in the past year.

maple leaf

plum blossom waterdrop

grasshopper

Thanks Brie for this week’s theme!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half and Half

Last weekend, a friend and I went down to Jingu Stadium for the Tokyo Swallows vs. Yokohama Baystars game. It was my first time to an outdoor baseball park, so I was looking forward to seeing how different the atmosphere was compared to indoor stadiums.

Even though we got there around 5pm, the sun was still beating down on us something fierce! So many sweaty bodies in such close proximity – it was not cool. As the sun finally retreated over the horizon, a cool breeze gave us all some relief. Then, like a reward for putting up with the heat, we were treated to a beautiful sight. The sky flashed gorgeous shades of pink and purple for about 10 minutes before the night sky took over. It made for some interesting half and half images: a battle of the earth vs. the sky.

Were they photos of the sunset with a baseball game in the foreground? Or was the focus the park with a nice sunset in the background?

Jingu Baseball Stadium Jingu Baseball Stadium

Thanks Ben at the Daily Post for the interesting theme this week.

Tochigi’s Mystical Hydrangea Shrine

For the Weekly Photo Challenge, Brie has got us thinking about what is our muse. Without a doubt, my biggest muse is nature itself. I am always inspired by flowers in particular and can spend hours walking around a garden taking photos!

Yesterday, I visited a shrine called Ohirasan Jinja which sits on top of a mountain. To get to the shrine, you walk through a forest and up a path that consists of 1000 stone steps! By the first 100 steps I would say the sweat was already starting to pour out! But I felt like reaching the top was an achievement, and the view over Tochigi city was beautiful.

Not only is the view nice, but the hike up is also part of the attraction. The stairs are lined with thousands of hydrangeas which burst open in the rainy season. I spent about 1.5 hours in total meandering my way up and back, stopping every 2 metres to admire this spectacular little corner of the world. I’ve taken a million photos of hydrangeas before, but I never get tired of them. I’ve also been experimenting with water drops recently, and have been trying to take macro reflection photos (without much luck yet). There’s so much hidden beauty in nature. It’s fun to try and capture things from a different point of view!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid

I’ve been living in my east-facing apartment for about 3 months now, and I’ve come to realise something a little depressing. It has happened about 3 or 4 times in the past couple of weeks, where I’ll be working on my computer in the kitchen or living room, and while taking a quick break I’ll open up Instagram on my iPhone. My eyes bulge as scroll down and see about 10 of my Instagram friends who also live in Tokyo posting pictures of an epic sunset which is happening right at that moment. So I drop everything and rush outside to check it out with my own eyes. How sad is it that I need technology to tell me what’s going on right outside my window! Other times, I’ve overheard people down on the street below actually exclaiming how pretty the sky is which has also given me the same reaction. Maybe I should start going for a run at 7pm just to make sure I don’t miss any more!

Brilliant sunsets tend to happen mostly in spring and autumn in Japan. Thankfully, there have been occasions in the past where I was in the right place at the right time. Watching the sky changing colours multiple times and seeing that last glow of sunlight is an experience unlike any other. It makes time slow down, it’s calming, it’s inspiring!

I chose 2 photos that show my interpretation of Vivid for this week’s Photo Challenge. The first was taken from an overpass near my home when I lived in Nagoya, and the second from my current workplace here in Tokyo.

Sunset

 

Sunset