Books from Japan



Hashima by Taiji Matsui
Hashima aka Gunkanjima aka Battleship Island is an island 15km offshore from Nagasaki, and in 1959 the small 6 hectare island reached a peak population of 5,259 primarily serving a coal mine… For years it was an infamous & difficult to access haikyo location but has more recently been reopened for tourists. More info here and here and a great interactive site here



Photographs of Imagined Haiku Landscapes by Mitsumura Suiko Shoin Publishing
Pairs Haiku with photos by members of Japan Nature Scenery Photography Association (introduction and haiku in English & Japanese)



Japanese Creativity – Contemplations on Japanese Architecture by Yuichiro Edagawa
Very interesting book (in english) – “analyzing a wide variety of unique exemplary buildings from the sixth century to the present, he determines twelve distinctive characteristics of Japanese architectural creativity and composition”



The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
Introduced by Haruki Murikami (english)(thanks for the tip Mel!)



Sacrifice – The Ikebana of Regeneration by Atsunubu Katagiri
Ikebana is the minimalist Japanese art of flower arrangement, and for this book the artist revisits Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and captures exquisite photos of ikebana placed in broken landscapes.
(Introduction and titles in English & Japanese)



Michael Kenna – A 45 Year Odyssey
Released in conjunction with the 45 year retrospective of Michael Kennas photographs at Tokyo Photographic Museum, which I visited a few weeks ago. Gorgeous, deeply inspiring work by a master of the art.



Michael Kenna – Holga
Apart from his primary work using Hasselblad cameras, Kenna also shoots on cheap Holga cameras…



On The Beach – Hiroshi Sugimoto
Back in 1990 Sugimoto visited New Zealand and while exploring coastlines came across an area where it seemed lots of vintage car parts had been dumped. This book documents the decayed objects on a black sand beach, with gorgeous photos where film grain and sand grain merge… (introduction in English & Japanese)





Detritus 463



▶ Hip-hop’s iconic images and the stories behind them – in pictures


▶ “You think with your language so your language dictates how you think. But when you’re making music it doesn’t. That’s why I love making music so much. You’re not limited by vocabulary and words.”
guess the artist?


▶ “We are offering a FREE 349-page downloadable pdf compendium of Raymond Scott artifacts and ephemera, including previously uncirculated historic material” Thanks @Repeater
Love this idea: “For listening to records in his living room, Scott designed this custom amplifier cabinet system, which had a removable tray filled with water under the speakers, because, as his first wife Pearl explained, “he thought sound came over water in a more sonorous way.”


▶ Crumpling sound synthesis


▶ Crumpling maths


▶ 10 paradoxes that will stretch your mind


▶ Myopia = better bokeh than the most expensive camera lens!


▶ Great initiative for UK Sound Post, to establish basic parameters for sound post work – I agree with it, with two exceptions that I think do not go far enough:
– Post 14 hours into Overtime @ 2x Hourly Rate
– 7th Day Worked Payable @ 2x Daily Rate

Should be:

– Post 14 hours into Overtime @ 20x Hourly Rate
– 7th Day Worked Payable @ 20x Daily Rate

While I appreciate there are plenty of people who do crazy hours on projects to meet delivery deadlines, I also think such scenarios are toxic, unhealthy and do you really think you are doing good work with your ears after 14 hours???
Such schedule blowouts should cost a fckng fortune. Only then will producers & post supervisors fully appreciate that they are costing people their health and sanity. While there are many reasons for such crunch periods (eg late VFX, late picture changes etc) double time goes nowhere near far enough to compensate for the mental & physical stress involved, because despite the scenario being dumped on them such workers still have to take responsibility for the quality of their work. If the final mix has a technical or creative error, no one in the audience will care that you did a week of all nighters to meet a stupidly unrealistic under-resourced deadline. /endrant









my greenhouse:
photo on the left was taken 4 weeks ago
photo on the right was the jungle I found when I got home from Japan!
(they look like different locations, but it is same photo taken from same position)

A few weeks before I went to Japan I set up two sprinklers on a timer, and tested them for 2 weeks to make sure they would be reliable. They never missed a beat, and I discovered just 3 minutes each morning was enough ‘rain’ so when I went to Japan I was reasonably confident that it would all be ok while I was away… but if it failed, everything would likely die!
I have documented the making of my greenhouse and will post it next week, as it has been a great long term project… Mine is fitted with a roof vent which auto opens when temperature reaches 15 degrees C… but while I was away I couldn’t open the door or window to let more air flow, so I was a little worried as to what might greet me on return. But wow – so much growth!! So great to be eating fresh veges from my garden!




Xmas Present

While I was in Japan I had a great idea for a xmas present for my parents – this year after a steady slow decline due to Alzheimers my Mum has moved into a care home, and one thing she still enjoys doing is going through family photo albums. Relatedly I remember a photo project called ‘I photograph to remember’ and that exactly applies to my Mum – the photos serve as her memory now…
So my great idea? A digital photo album!

I did some searching while in Japan but found the best option seems to be the NIX digital frames, which I then ordered ex Amazon. Nix make two types of digital picture frames: normal frames which display photos stored on USB thumb drive, and cloud frames which display photos stored in the cloud and accessed via wifi.

As I wanted my Mums frame to be fairly bullet proof, I ordered the 15D which is USB only and is a 15″ frame in 4×3 aspect ratio, natively 1024×768… I started loading photos on it today and it looks great!



I decided to try out a larger landscape format one, so I ordered the 17B for myself. It is 17″ size and natively displays 1920×1080 and is also just USB based. XPAN photos look great on it!

So far they seem easy to use – you can choose the orientation, manually browse & display photos or set a slide show going, with settings for the time each photo is displayed and the transition between photos. Resolution seems pretty good, although of course you get what you pay for… pay more and you can get similar rez to the mac retina screens.

One aspect of the settings that will be useful in my Mums case is that you can set it to auto start at a set time, and switch off at a set time. Another option is that it will switch on when it detects movement.

Seems a well thought out device, and eg for family who are living in a different city or country the wifi/cloud models would be a great way to update from a distance.

I set my parents Mac up so that any photos attached to emails get stored in the same directory as used by the OSX screensaver, which I set to display photos. So my Dad can still enjoy that at home, but this self contained picture frame is going to be great for my Mum.


ps if you or anyone you know is going through the process of a friend or family member with dementia of any kind, I can not reccomend this book highly enough: CONTENTED DEMENTIA – I came across mention of it on reddit, ordered a copy and read it, then ordered a copy for every member of my family. There are no easy answers but having a better idea of priorities and tactics for helping has been invaluable!




Japan detritus















Abalone (in NZ = paua) baked in a block of salt!



















oysters cooked in the shell on charcoal!





salaryman kummomon











field recording: siren + angry train staff, take 1!



note to self: cucumber + bonito + sesame = oishi!



hottate (scallop) sashimi















Last day last meal

Its become a tradition my last meal in Japan is at a fantastic sushi restaurant in Temma, Osaka… No matter what time you visit, there is always a queue… And this time I was surprised as they had an english menu!













Kanpai until next time!





My favourite book store

I thought my favourite book store was T Site in Daikanyama and visited it when in Tokyo, but while I was researching architecture to go photograph in Osaka I came across mention of the T Site Hirakata store in Osaka and managed to visit it on my last day in Japan.

By then I had packed my two suitcases and stashed them in coin lockers, after weighing them with handheld luggage scales… so I knew my second suitcase was 3kg under my limit, which is a slightly odd way of thinking about shopping, but limits can aid decision making, so off we went!








The store is so beautifully designed, and includes restaurants, cafe and a fantastic kids section where small people can climb into recesses to read books, or climb on the indoors playground.

Someone on FB asked if I can read kanji, and I can’t, but the books I am always searching for while in Japan tend to be dual language – Japanese & English – presumably as that covers the immediate/primary market for photo books & architecture…

I’ll post some photos of the books I bought once I unpack my bags at home, incase they are of interest. A useful tip is that it is worth registering an account at as many such books can’t ne found outside Japan but can be ordered online at Amazon and shipped internationally, which is what I did with a hefty Tadao Ando book of houses, and some gardening & design books that I didn’t want to carry home myself…





Yodo River



view of Umeda, Osaka from across Yodo River
was surprised to find this rickety jetty made out of scaffolding…
but even more surprised by next photo…



Amazing to think the shack in the foreground is allowed to exist, especially when you think it has a gorgeous view of some of the most expensive real estate in Osaka!!



Oh the changes this tree has seen…


shot with Sony a6300 + Zeiss 16-70mm lens




Vintage Fuji








We went to Himeji on Sunday to catch up with friends (& eat oysters!)
Stumbled across these vintage Fujifilm advertising – love the designs!!








21 rolls off to ToyLab today!