East Asia

This guest post is by Jessica Gold of Travel Wkly, enjoy!

South Korea’s largest city is its capital Seoul. The city dates back to 18 BC and now has a population exceeding 10 million and the city’s metropolitan area has a population exceeding 25 million, making it the second most populated metropolitan areas in the world. Located on the banks of the Han River, the city is surrounded by mountains, the tallest being Mt. Bukhan home to the most visited of any national park in the world, by square footage. In the center of the city is Namsan Mountain which has a cable car that runs to the peak where there is the N Seoul Tower, which, although primarily a communications tower, also has an observation and entertainment amenities. There are, of course, many attractions in a city this size and it is the most popular of any city visited by Chinese, Japanese and Thai tourists. Some of the most amazing places to see in Seoul are:

5. Hike in the City

Hamsan Mountain

Namsan Mountain

Perhaps somewhat unusual for a major city, you will see people dressed for Read the rest! \(^u^)/ →

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Totoro Bush

June 4, 2013 · 0 comments

My neighbor totoro bush sculpture

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Sakura in bloom

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It seems almost a lifetime ago now, when I was working in Fukushima in a regular job when mother nature rudely interrupted my course in life and set me in a new direction. Maybe I should have taken advantage of living more because a lot of people, over 15,000 lost their life within close proximity of me on the same day. One day a regular Japanese landscape, with homes, schools, shops, gas stations, and the like. The next: acres of land swept away with the water.

While I briefly saw the damage a year ago, I was being driven around my my (then) girlfriends parents so didn’t really get to take any decent photos or follow my own path. This year however, I retuned in Sendai and rented a car for the day to have a look at the damage and see what progress has been made. Please note, most of these photos were taken off the coast of Miyagi prefecture not Fukushima, which is a bit more north, but still hit just as bad.

tsunami-concrete-sign-photo

The basic tsunami defence system, and an evacuation sign

Boat-japan-tsunami-photo

A boat where a building used to be

sea-defence-japan-photo

This shows the new sea defences and the old swept landcape

Tsunami-damage-japan

Manhole shows previous land level

tsunami-damage-house-photo

The old entrance to someones house

tsunami damage of swept houses in japan

Former houses

tsunami-damage-mopeds-photo

I guess these were found during the clean up

tsunami-damage-building-photo

The only house remaining in acres

tsunami-serious damage-building-photo

Inside another single building which stood up among all others

As you can see, it has mostly been cleaned up now, but no reconstruction can be seen anywhere. New defence barriers are in place, but other than that nothing. The waste has just been moved elsewhere. Japan is in a difficult situation on what to do here. I mean, who would want to live here knowing what happened? The amount of people that died. For a country without much flat land to build on, it’s quite a dilemma. I have no before photos so I can’t directly compare, but it seems like this area will remain abandoned for now.

People argue from 2 perspectives – one is to leave it and keep it as a reminder to how powerful mother nature is. The other is to build over it and show strength in community and the ability to move on. Pretty much everyone wanted it all cleared up though, which is seems like it has been now. Of course there is still a lot of people who no longer have jobs or a place to live which they earnt themselves. I am unaware of the figures of people still living in shelters/halls but I don’t think it is that great now.

Finally I’d like to end this post on a photo of the outside of the building I took a photo from inside above. It is one of the few new things in this area. A sakura (cherry blossom) tree. Because this was one of the few remaining buildings standing in the area, it only seems appropriate to use it as a symbol of hope. There is nothing more Japanese than sakura so it seemed appropriate to plant it next to this building. It hasn’t grown yet, let alone bloomed (cherry blossom only blooms once a year and for a week) but hopefully it will lead this area on to new beginnings.

Hope Sakura tree next to tsunami victim building

Sakura tree being grown next to surviving building

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Ginza Used Camera Fair

February 22, 2013 · 0 comments

Ginza camera fair

This means awesome cameras for sale here

In Ginza, one of the most expensive places in Tokyo and more famous for its line up of world famous jewellery stores and high end shopping amongst others, there is an annual used camera fair event in the top floor of the Matsuya building (a department store, almost opposite the Apple store, so it’s easy to find). I luckily found out about it a week before so aligned my dental appointment (also in Ginza – there are a lot of dentists there for some reason) with the opening date the 20th Feb to go along and see what was the big deal all about.

Being a camera geek helped too. If you’re not interested in camera’s then give this one a miss. There isn’t much else to see here. It was like walking around a camera museum. Not much digital in sight, in fact one stall only sold film rolls (which make memory cards look cheap if you haven’t looked at the price tags of them in a while).

Old cameras

Gold and leather camera sir?

The above photo shows a nice example of what is available. What are they? I have no idea. They just look cool. The cheapest one (on the right) is about £800 though. Double that for the middle one, and double again for the one on the left. I think my brand new Olympus OM-D EM-5 cost that a year ago, which had state of the art technology and it can take more than 36 photos at a time too. It’s a huge amount to drop on a 30+ year old camera in my opinion, but I respect those who do.

old video cameras

Some video cameras were there too

Despite Japan having a huge history in optics from companies like I don’t know, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Fujifilm, Sigma, Pentax, Tokina, Hoya, and the more recent electronics companies taking over digital like Sony, Panasonic and even casio, the fair featured a lot of German made glass, from the likes of Leica, Carl Zeiss, Schneider and Rollei amongst all the vintage ware. Of course the Japanese companies were well represented, but not as much as you may expect from a Japanese based event.

In terms of bargains… Well there isn’t too much to speak of unfortunately. Other decent second hand shops (I recommend MAP camera in Shibuya) have similar prices if you can find what you are after. This event is more for the rare bits and pieces. Those sort of things will take up all your money so you’ll need to fund your next adventure with a Halifax Loan in order to make use out of your new purchase, or at least use the money to get to Tokyo to hunt down these items. That’s assuming it’s not going to sit in a air tight glass cabinet for your viewing pleasure :-)

Anyway, the fair ends on the 25th and should return again next year. So if you’re a カメラおたく in Tokyo, then you better get down there quick. Here’s some more shots from the fair to whet your appetite:

Rollei in Japan

Rollei Glass

 

Camera geek stuff

Moveable extension things

 

Camera lenses

Lenses

halifax

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