Friday, July 1, 2016

Ajisai Season -In All It's Glory

I took advantage of Hydrangea (Ajisai) Season recently.  It gave me a lot of wonderful opportunities to work on my photography skills.  I've attempted to use the Manual setting on my camera for several months now.  Taking pictures of flowers are fairly easy subjects.  They don't turn around and walk away from you or run by.  The wind is a factor sometimes, but basically, they are gorgeous and stand still.  I'm going to take a portrait photography class this next week.  We will see how I do.  

I had two different opportunities to take pictures of beautiful hydrangea gardens.  This first one was in the Nagoya area, so just a short subway ride away.  

I loved this old, distressed map of the garden.
We met friends there and so I got Ken to join me.
 This next stop was an hour and a half train ride away.  We left in the afternoon because of schedule conflicts, and we also wanted to get the afternoon light which is better than mid day.

My photography friend likes to get down low.  
I tried it and it definitely gave some fun and interesting results.  
 I tried some new angles.  I had fun with these two photos, using my screen while I held the camera down low.  I have yet to perfect my focusing skills doing this.  The effect is fun for something different.  The photo below would've been even better if we would've had blue skies to contrast.

 Another "different" perspective shot.

We stayed until the lights came on and got a few fun photos with them.  We left around 7:30 to go home.  When we got to the subway we eventually discovered that all the trains in the area were cancelled, due to an "accident" on the tracks.  It's a very real problem in Japan.  Many choose suicide by train as the solution to their problems.  It took quite a lot of thinking to get home.  We ended up taking an expensive cab to a station two stops away.  When we arrived there a train was arriving that was two hours late which is unheard of in Japan.  When at another stop, we could tell we were being instructed to move to another more express train.  I ended up taking four different train lines home after the taxi ride, finally arriving at 10:30 pm.  I'm so thankful my friend speaks Japanese! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

This and That and The Other

Hello strangers.  Yes, I am still alive.  Sorry for being in absentia for so long.  A lot has been going on in the last two months.  I have been filling my days with photo opportunities, site seeing trips, crafting, friends and eating out.  Just to name a few.  I'll give you a little taste.

In May we traveled by train with friends to visit Takayama.  The following pictures are of Hida no Sato which is full of restored homes and buildings brought together to demonstrate life in the Edo period, (1603 - 1867).  There were many handcraft demonstrations in the buildings.  You can see more information about it here. 

 This magnolia was magnificent.
Later in May I happened upon the rose garden in full bloom at our local park.  I went to take pictures of the iris, which were not yet ready.  The roses did not disappoint. 

I think the parasols just add to the beauty.  I've recently embraced the tradition of sun protection.
I love to find artists in various locations.  I didn't want to bother this gentleman, but I should've asked to take a closer picture of his artwork.  Sometimes I see a sketcher on the subway drawing people.  You have to be fast to do that.  I had the opportunity to make pottery recently.  I even tried the potter's wheel.  I think my bowl was kind of wonky in the end.  We also painted a bowl that was already fired.  I think I should be receiving it this week and was told it turned out beautifully.  I can't wait to see it.  
 Even the parking lot has pottery everywhere.

 I tried to paint a poppy.  Who knows what it ended up looking like.
This group represents Japan, America, Canada, France, Mexico and Belgium.
I am taking every opportunity to embrace Japan as you can see.
*Edited to add a photo of my finished rice bowl.  I'm happy with the way it turned out.  

Friday, May 20, 2016

Australian Loves

Several years ago now, we hosted a foreign exchange student through AFS when we lived in the Chicago suburbs.  Her name was Sandy and she was from a small town outside of Melbourne.  I called her Sandra Dee, much to her dismay.  If anyone gets that reference, then kudos to you.

With AFS, students typically stay for 11 months.  It takes time for them and you to adjust, usually a few months.  She arrived in August and after Christmas, I think she started feeling more at home.  Or was it that new boy she'd met?  Being responsible for someone else's 16 year old daughter when they begin dating is SCARY, let me tell you.
Fast forward 16 years and they are happily married and living in Australia. I hadn't seen their two oldest children in 7 years and had never seen the youngest, she'll be 5 this month.  While my husband was traveling to Mexico and the US, I decided I should go visit.  I AM on the right side of the world these days, but it is still a pretty long flight.  The price was reasonable and Sandy said, "come".  So, I did.  Here's a glimpse of my very fast visit with them.  I played a lot!

 This area is called Lake's Entrance which borders along the Bass Strait.  
We walked over to the beach for a lovely view.  

Another day we drove to Raymond Island and took the ferry across.  
We were hoping to see Koalas and Kangaroo.  

This is a Galah, part of the cockatoo family. Alas, I saw NO KANGAROO, the entire visit!  

 The cute kiddos on a busy afternoon after school.

 My last day there we spent the day in Melbourne. This is an alley of cafes.
 It poured the day we were in Melbourne, which was the day I left.
Little bit was tired out. 
We found the alley of graffiti and took advantage of the photo opportunity.  It was so fun to be with them and HH and I need to go back TOGETHER.  I realized that I need to do a post on a visit to Kyoto.  Sorry about that.  It will be a little out of order.  Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

So many photos, so little time

It doesn't help that I LOVE taking photos here and am doing my best to improve.  Today I'm just showing you some random photos from exploring close by.  I have pictures from a Kyoto trip, but that deserves a post all it's own.  My husband and I explored around Nagoya castle in order for him to see the Sakura blossoms a few weeks ago in April.  When you're working all day and getting home in the dark, it's hard to see some of this natural beauty.  Not to even mention that he's out of the country a lot. The Sakura (cherry) were almost finished blooming, but we found a few still going strong in Meijo Park which is next to the castle grounds.  

This guy was getting quite a workout on his bouncy band.  I'm going to try to post a video of it.  

On a different day, a friend and I explored a local shrine that we were walking by called Atsuta Shrine.  The grounds were much larger than we realized and absolutely beautiful.  

 The gardenia trees were HUGE and the ground was covered with blossoms.
I guess you can tell that I love taking pictures of flowers.  I'm in a private FB group for local photographers.  Recently there was a challenge to take pictures of wisteria.  One day, I set out to find some.  Here are a few pictures from that search.  Boy, it sure smells amazing.  
 I just couldn't resist a photo of this cute dog.  He wasn't on a leash and was having the best time.

A very typical scene, here.  

Okay, one more flower excursion.  

 These lovely girls were my exploring companions that day.

And there you have it!  More excursions and more flowers!  Thank you all for sticking around.  I have more to show, I really do!  Have a great weekend.  (It's Thursday here).  


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