Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone, But Not Forgotten

This post is in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “Gone, But Not Forgotten

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“Symbols of Peace”

The Nagasaki Bomb Museum is confronting and a stark reminder of the horrors of war. But the neighbouring Peace Park is a calm and beautiful dedication to those who lost their lives. They may be gone, but they’ll never be forgotten.

The true story behind the origami cranes being hung up at the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Parks goes back to a little girl called Sadako Sasaki. Nine years after the atomic bomb, she developed cancer from having been exposed to the radiation. While she was in hospital, she decided she would fold 1000 origami cranes. It’s a legend that whoever can meet this challenge will be granted anything they wish for. Some stories say she completed more than she needed, while others say she didn’t reach her goal, but regardless, in the end the cancer won. She became a hero amongst her family and friends, and soon the entire country knew about “Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes”.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

This post is in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “nighttime“.

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This is the Otaru Canal, in the old port city of Otaru, one of the most famous scenes in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. At nighttime, the reflection in the water is so clear that it looks like there’s an underwater city! So beautiful and romantic! The canal was created in the 1920s to transport products from ships to the stone warehouses along the waterway. Now, it’s just a tourist attraction, and the warehouses have been converted into various businesses.

Otaru Canal Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

This post is in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “between“.

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On 21 May 2012, I arrived extraordinarily early (7am, yes that’s early for me!) to work to witness a very rare event: an annular solar eclipse! The Moon passed between the Earth and the Sun, and created a ‘ring of fire’. We all wore our super nerdy solar eclipse glasses, and craned our necks up to the sky for about 30 minutes as the Moon closed over the sun. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen!

Solar Eclipse Solar Eclipse

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

This post is in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “room“.

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Come with me to my workplace. I spend about 15~20 hours per week standing at the front of a classroom. Teaching is a tough but fun job. One of the things I love most about it is that everyday is different; you can never get bored!

In Japan, a typical class has 40 students. Six columns and 6-7 rows of desks. It’s tight! The teacher has about one metre at the front of the room, between the blackboard and the first row of students. At the back of the room, are the students’ lockers as well as cleaning cupboards with brooms, dustpans, garbage bins, etc.

I work in a private high school, so we’re lucky we get air-conditioning/heating all year round. Public schools have to tough it out in the bitter cold of winter and the scorching temperatures of summer. There’s nothing like trying to teach while dripping in sweat, to a class full of hot and tired students. I know all about that. They do alright though, the kids; they don’t complain much!

 

Japanese Classroom

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

This post is in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “spring“.

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In Japan, without the cherry blossoms, it’s not spring.

As nature transforms, so do we. Spring draws us outside. It re-energises us. Every year, after gloomy winter, I feel a change in the air. Walking down the street, a warm breeze brushing over my cheeks, sunlight sparkling throughout the trees, it’s like a sense of liberation. It’s about ‘now’ – being in the moment – and appreciating the finer things in life. For me, that is being able to enjoy the amazing wonders of nature.

One of the most memorable cherry blossom trees I’ve seen was in Miharu, Fukushima. Known as takizakura, which means “waterfall cherry blossom”, it is a GIANT of a tree! It’s over 1,000 years old, and is about 12 metres high. I love the character of the tree. From a distance, it’s quite bold and majestic. It demands attention… and gets it! Up close, it really does feel like you’re standing under a waterfall of petals! Then there’s the trunk… twisted, layered and wrinkled. It definitely shows its age. If only the bark could speak, imagine what stories it could tell us!

Takizakura Takizakura Takizakura Takizakura

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

This post is in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “inside. 

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I recently went to Niigata prefecture which is on the west coast of Japan. In February, the sleepy town of Tokamachi is transformed into a buzzing snow festival, with snow sculptures built and showcased all around the area.

One of the sculptures was based on the Studio Ghibli movie, My Neighbor Totoro (originally released in 1988). This movie is arguably the most famous and most loved of the Ghibli films and everyone knows the characters: Totoro, the cat bus, Satsuki and Mei.

Seeing the snow sculpture from afar was impressive in itself. But, as I got closer, my attention was drawn to a massive hole under the cat bus. At first, I thought it was a tunnel to lead to the other side. I soon realised it was in fact a sculpture inside another sculpture! Very clever and impressive!

Totoro snow sculpture

Totoro snow sculpture Totoro snow sculpture