Iconic Kansai






love seeing old graphic art in Japan – how old would this paint store icon be?





no break dancing on the tracks, OK!?


on a building site safety fence





Kobe beef restaurant – so delicious!!


entrance to a tiny bar in Kobe – V Twin FTW!


truly minimalist advertising?


all good parties start with a canister of helium!


I visited Ryoanji Temple yesterday and it was a bit like catching up with an old friend – familiar as I have visited many times before, but also different with the season (and of course because I have inevitably changed)



Of course its impossible to capture such an exquisite dry garden with a camera, but me & the Distagon tried!



After I had been there for maybe half an hour, something quite beautiful & unexpected happened…


The sun came out & due to it being autumn and the trees being bare, their shadows were projected on to the surface of the garden!


When I think of temples in Japan I always remember the feeling of peaceful contemplation, but at temples as famous as Ryoanji it can be a challenge. All of the above photos speak of a profound peaceful quiet but…


Just out of frame in every photo is this crowd of people, some quietly enjoying the temple, others chatting loudly & incessantly taking photos (as was I, of course) but the most annoying thing I experienced at Ryoanji was another gaijin with one of those ridiculous selfy sticks!?! I watched him for a bit & could imagine the photos he was taking ‘heres me at a temple, and heres me at the same temple, and heres me beside a shrub, and hes me, me, me, me…’ – as I said on Twitter a while ago, I am waiting patiently for the first report of a beating with a selfy stick! Time for your close up? Here let me help…

The antidote was to get as far away from him as possible… and the grounds of Ryoanji temple are beautiful! Peace returning, urge to beat imbecile receding…



I’m sure I’ve said it before, but one of the genius aspects of the design of the dry garden at Ryoanji is that it is composed of 15 rocks, but there is no viewpoint (other than maybe overhead) where you can actually see all 15 rocks…

And from wikipedia: In an article published by the science journal Nature, Gert van Tonder and Michael Lyons analyze the rock garden by generating a model of shape analysis (medial axis) in early visual processing. Using this model, they show that the empty space of the garden is implicitly structured, and is aligned with the temple’s architecture. According to the researchers, one critical axis of symmetry passes close to the centre of the main hall, which is the traditionally preferred viewing point. In essence, viewing the placement of the stones from a sightline along this point brings a shape from nature (a dichotomously branched tree with a mean branch length decreasing monotonically from the trunk to the tertiary level) in relief.
The researchers propose that the implicit structure of the garden is designed to appeal to the viewer’s unconscious visual sensitivity to axial-symmetry skeletons of stimulus shapes. In support of their findings, they found that imposing a random perturbation of the locations of individual rock features destroyed the special characteristics.

I can only guess that the composition and use of negative space was a motivating factor in John Cages work Ryoanji:


Back streets of Kyoto

’round and round, up and down, through the streets of your town…’ – excuse the nostalgic soundtrack…

On my way back from visiting temples in Kyoto and the National Museum, google maps gave me a few options to walk into city where the LISN store was, so I chose the path that avoided main roads.
I love wandering narrow alleyways & back streets in Japan, as you get a little glimpse into the lives of locals, which is infinitely more interesting than the main street shop fronts…


I was taking this photo of the digger as I liked the vivid colour, when suddenly this girl rode past on her bike wearing a jacket the exact same colour… Doh! missed it, but then she turned left and came back into shot for a moment..



Wandered past a bike shop & love these little bikes… but saw an adult riding one a bit later & it made me think more of the circus than a sensible commuting option…



As dusk fell, I wandered past little restaurants & bars – hidden away from tourists but no doubt well know to locals…



All photos taken with Fuji x100s – that last one is why I love the little Fuji camera, easy to have with you & sharp even when shooting handheld in low light…


closer crop of the same photo…

Relatedly back in Osaka the other day I visited the Fuji Gallery (one of the great things each of the companies in Japan who produce cameras do is run photo galleries, usually attached to a show room) and tried the Fuji x100T. I shouldn’t have, because now I want to upgrade! I didn’t play with it enough to appreciate the internal changes but the physical evolution was immediately obvious – key buttons had been moved to better positions and it felt so right when handheld… Will leave it for next visit to Japan…