On arrival in Niseko, I received a photo challenge from my sister. So here it is – our first seven days in Japan, in black and white images. In the exercise, there were to be no people and no explanations. I have chosen to annotate them for this post.
DAY ONE: The first coffee of the season is significant. It sets the standard for what we can expect for the next 6 months. And … after 24 hours of travelling drinking airline and airport coffee, it is much sought after. Good news – this one was good.
DAY TWO: Piles of wood are neatly stacked in readiness for the winter. Everything is done with precision and organisation, even a wood pile out in the field!
DAY THREE: The manhole covers in Japan feature this kind of art. The images change slightly with the first dusting of snow and then disappear completely until the snow clearers prevail. Drainspotting is apparently growing in popularity with the spread of the cult of the Japanese manhole. There is even a Japanese Society of Manhole Covers with a website (in Japanese) listing many of Japan’s estimated 6,000 different kinds of manhole cover.
DAY FOUR: Japanese characters are akin to art work for me. They form a sort of pictogram. This sign was on the roof of a hotel and I liked its aesthetic appeal.
DAY FIVE: Mt Yotei is known as literally “sheep-hoof mountain”) is an inactive stratovolcano located in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Hokkaidō, Japan. It is also called Yezo Fuji or Ezo Fuji (蝦夷富士), “Ezo” being an old name for the island of Hokkaido, because it resembles Mount Fuji.
DAY SIX: This sushi train in Kutchan offers some of the best available in the area. In the first week I was here twice, especially enjoying the grilled fatty salmon. Once the season kicks off, it is not practical to get here so we take the opportunity to enjoy it in the early days. We rarely take any dishes off the “train” now, preferring to order those freshly prepared by the chef.
DAY SEVEN: A day trip to Noboribetsu saw us travel some snowy roads. Fortunately they were not steep so no chains required (or carried). If it looks cold, it really was. We were a bit under-dressed for our destination, where an icy wind seemed to blast right through us. This shot was taken from the car as we were driving along and shows the sort of vegetation in the area – bamboo on the roadside and slim-trunked silver birches adjacent.