It’s been another year, and we are already opening the door to the next one. It’s the year of rubbit, the one that will leap us forward with a hop, step and jump! Let this be a year of giving, appreciating and sharing happiness. I wish for your good health and prospect, and I look forward to seeing you on the other end of my lens, to make the best photographs that make me rich for a change, too! 🙂
I haven’t got a good writer’s hat on me right now. Maybe it has to do with staying up till early hours of the morning to finish up watching a Taiwanese drama :p Anyhow, the first part of my Korean photos are up – on the travel blog. Stay tuned, more will come! Don’t forget the ‘Like’ button and ‘Comment’ link. I love knowing who my readers are and what you think! See the post on my travel blog here.
On the last day of November, I had an opportunity to photograph an iconic Australian activity of sheep shearing. We’ve seen the colonial painting of sheep shearing in some place, on a guidebook, in the gallery, etc. but how many have actually seen the real activity? After visiting this country as a visitor many times and since lived for years I had not had a chance to witness it until this day. So it was with a mild excitement and anticipation that I’d hit the road early in the morning for a farm an hour north of Melbourne.
I was told but seeing how efficient the process was I was quite impressed. The general flow of things seem to be what have long been, but some modern improvements are visible some of which designed for the ergonomics while others to quality manage the product. 3 shearers were on the job that day, with half a dozen people doing their parts of the workflow, clearly defined, moving efficiently.
High-tech laser analyser sorts each pile into appropriate specification. Rough bits removed, loose ends put together, and they all get packed into a large bag containing 200kg’s of sheep fur pile.
Each shearer has his style of working, his choice of equipment and preference on whether he uses the body harness to protect his back or move freely without. Everyone works hard for 2 hours for break, followed by another couple of hours of intense activity, repeated from dawn till dusk. It is a serious business here.
I grew up in Osaka, a large developed modern city full of commercial people in trading, textile and engineering. Kyoto is only an hour away by train, our neighbour, but a little snobbish one of it. Kyoto is a Paris in Kansai, where people dress nicely, walk with their back straight, and bow gracefully as they pass familiar faces on the street and totally disregard you the stranger as they see right through you. Kyoto is a very different place compared to Osaka, in their culture, in their city layout, and in their mentality, though we are both very loyal to our hometown. Arashiyama, literally ‘storm hill’, on the south-west edge of Kyoto flat is somehow a little more closer to home for me. Maybe it has to do with day-trip of hiking there that the primary school took me as a kid. Maybe there was even a field day of painting there. I was really not a painter as a kid (nor am I) so I cannot quite recall where I had to spend a day pretending to draw something on my sketchbook.
Anyhow, what I was saying is that Arashiyama is a little less snobbish part of Kyoto for me, and when I saw a poster on train about Kyoto Hana-Toro (flower lantern) event, I picked up my little camera and put on the new pair of walking shoes that I was wearing in before a trip. My regular Canon SLR had just been brought into a service lab for cleaning and adjustment before the 1st year warranty expired. To back up that loss, I had been looking for a secondary camera and found a little Panasonic at a pretty reasonable price as its newer model hit the market. I managed to pick one up at its lowest price before the buyers looking for what they thought was better than the new model but was already of short supply started bringing the price up again.
I arrived at Hankyu train Arashiyama station in the mid afternoon on the first day of the light-up event on Friday the 10th of December. After picking up a visitor guide map from the tourist info, I set out walking. Hana-Toro is held twice a year, apparently, with Higashiyama (‘East hill’ – the area that includes the famous Kiyomizu Temple and its huge stage in the air) in March and in Arashiyama in December. I figured I could start in early afternoon to familialise myself with the place and do the location scouting before it gets dark, but as soon as I started walking and saw the colour full hill still scattered with colours of autumn in shade as the sun had already past to its west, I realised I should have been there in the morning, Early birds and photographers…
I was too busy walking and looking for what may be just ahead of the next corner and the corner after that, but having not had lunch with a few hours of walking non-stop got me starved. But the problem is this is a tourist spot, and it is Kyoto; how could I expect good tasty food for reasonable price in a place like this? And Osakans are known for our fussy tastes with ordinary food. I walked around the main street, checked out the front of the large restaurants with tour buses, and passed the river and walked back along towards the Hankyu station. I think I have a nose for a good place and I know it when I see one. After walking for 15 minutes or so and getting even more hungry, I narrowed it down to two which are close to each other and decided to slide open the door of one which had a red banner flying with large letter saying ‘hand-made soba noodle’. Soba (buckwheat noodle, brown or green and rather crumbling) is not my favourite kind; Osakans generally love udon (flour-based, thick and chewy) more, but what choice do I have here? Also who can say no to ‘no extra charge for extra noodle’?
‘Togakushi’ noodle house is on the Nakanoshima (middle island) area of Arashiyama, between the Togetsukyo Bridge and Hankyu station, in between the two river branches. Do try it. It is actually a very good noodle, subtle and tasty soup, fatty and tasty pork, and of course, pickled daikon radish (Kyoto is famous for its delicate tastes of pickles).
Hana-toro started as the sun set, and the place got very crowded as visitors arrived from train stations. Togetsukyo Bridge and the hill on the back of town are brightly lit with saturated colours, and looked to me like a girl who looks her best being natural but was made up with excessive amount of cosmetics and white powders. I couldn’t quite enjoy the look of it. The lit trail in the bamboo forest that looked pretty in brochure was naturally filled with non-stop queue of visitors and was no place for a decent photo opportunity. And I didn’t plan to stay till late at night when there may be less of the crowd, nor did I have a chance to come back during the week while it is still taking place, as I was set to go for a trip from Monday morning. I chose a quiet dark path in the back of town and made my way back towards the Katsura. Now there are dozens of photographers standing every metre along the river bank with their tripod and big camera all pointed towards the famous bridge and the hill behind it. Sure, you enjoy taking the same photo as everyone else, I thought. I’d buy a postcard than pushing each other to secure my spot and the perfect angle, of what, a girl with too much make-up? I made a quick shot of it without even looking carefully through my view finder, and continued walking back to my train.
I normally do not sit in a window seat, but this time I was flying a long day flight (which is another thing I’d normally avoid), so I chose to have a view at my disposal. A few shots in my travel blog.
As always, your comments are quite welcome!