This blog is for family and friends, to share my feelings and photos with and for myself, to support my fading memory and improve my Japanese. I intend to do some writing in kanji, but am not getting very far without a Japanese computer. So for the moment I say "konnichi wa". Aisatsu dake - just saying hello.

Monday, 25 January 2016


It doesn't often get this cold in Fukuoka. I love it, I hate it. Going out of town was a wonderful thing.
The snow... it's magic!

male Red-flanked Bluetail, ルリビタキ

Eurasian Tree Sparrow, スズメand Oriental Greenfinch, カワラヒワ finding bits and pieces to live on.


It's hard to get clear shots in this weather

Funny patterns on the guardrail caught my attention

Snow on bamboo, what's weirder? Snow on oranges?


Very few people were out. Government officials had put the word out that it could be dangerous to leave the house, schools were closed, highways too. Why go anywhere? This lady made it uphill to pray for good luck for her granddaughter with her exams the following day. "Young people don't come here to pray so I'll have to do it"

Once more the Red-flanked Bluetail, ルリビタキ, who posed so kindly in front of me. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Oni-e fire festival in Oita

Another typical New Year's festival. If it doesn't involve a ball it's bound to have fire. And water of course.

Flaming torches bearing men are approaching. They all cross the Yakkan river on foot. The water level is high this year and only 6°C, but they don't seem to be too concerned. 

Once across a huge bonfire is lit, supposed to drive away evil spirits.

Then the men run around, yelling loud while banging on their burning bamboo torches. Sparkles are flying everywhere, we spectators better keep a distance!

Let's hope all this noise and hell-like fire will keep the demons that cause bad fortune at bay in the coming year.

Jaap's video for all the action and the noise.


Saturday, 16 January 2016

Meinohama Tamaseseri

There are several Tamaseseri festivals in the Fukuoka area in the beginning of each year. It's usually cold, but the participating men wear very little clothing; they are bound to get wet. All festivals deal with a wooden ball (the tama), however the activities around the ball vary a lot.

In Meinohama the ball gets rubbed with oil and dipped in the sea of the harbor after which the fishermen take it to a shrine. 

They move in a scrum as it's all a matter of holding on to this ball as long as possible so as to get good fortune in the coming year. All fishermen dream of big catches that make them instantly wealthy enough to spend the rest of the year drinking shochu and sake, so they are keen and eager.

The course to the shrine runs through the streets of Meinohama for about 1 km

Oh no, Jaap got water in his eyes

Priests are performing the necessary rites for a safe outcome

Entering the Sumiyoshi Shrine

Here the ball is to be brought up, but for the moment nobody wants to let go.


Plenty buckets of cold water are keeping the guys cool.


There it is!

Owari! Finished!

Jaap and Yuichiro posing for their fans.
Glad to have all their ribs in place this time.

Last photo for my friends abroad who love these fundoshi oufits 

Brown Booby, カツオドリ

The early January morning in the harbor south of Kagoshima city was dark with thick clouds covering the sky. I was a bit worried, this not ideal for shooting Boobies in flight. About 3 birds were actively hunting, scanning the waters and diving from great heights. Despite their efforts they didn't seem to be catching much. Too bad for them, but good for me, cause they kept going at it. After a while some more birds flew in. An hour later the sky brightened and I could get a few nice shots...


Ballet in the sky

Mid-morning an Osprey appeared out of the blue with his catch of the day firmly clenched in his talons. Jealous Boobies acted in pursuit, without success.


Right: a juvenile with dark coloring on its belly.

It turned out a great day, with lots of spectacular dives.

and finally a fish!