Photo Friday: H2O / Koi


Koi - Japanese Friendship Garden

Photo Friday: H2O

Today’s theme is H2O – water. I enjoy water features in gardens, lakes, and of course the ocean. The elements of water included in Japanese gardens are always particularly beautiful, and the koi pond in the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, CA is no exception. I caught this group of koi swimming around on a sunny March afternoon, as they created ripples in their wake. The sun catching the ripples and reflecting on the dappled patterns of the koi created an interesting shot.

Do you find water features to be relaxing? What kind of water features are your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: Frame / Lava Tube


Maui - Waianapanapa State Park

Photo Friday: Frame

At Wai’anapanapa State Park in Maui off the Road to Hana Highway, I crawled into a lava tube to take this photo of the surf beyond the beach. The black sand that makes up the beach here comes from the weathered dark volcanic basalt, which forms the lava tubes. Using the dark lava tube to frame the photo brings the attention to the waves beyond, and the beautiful blue color of the ocean.

Stooping to go through the lava tube – that’s big enough to enter but not quite big enough to stand up in – it’s incredible to think about the volume of lava that passed through the tunnel. Lava on the big island still flows out of long active tubes like this one, and someday perhaps others will crawl through the remnants of those lava tunnels! Black sand beaches are unique to areas with volcanic deposits that create the unique sand color. This black sand beach is a little less comfortable than white sand beaches, as the gravel size of the black sand creates a surface that’s not enjoyable to walk on in your bare feet, but with sandals it’s still a really cool beach!

What is your favorite beach trip? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: Edge / City Scape


City Scape

Photo Friday Challenge: Edge

This Photo Friday Challenge theme is “Edge” and I immediately thought of this photo, where I caught several buildings grouped together, and framed an additional building in the reflection on a windowed building. I was wandering around downtown Oklahoma City, OK and when I looked up, I captured what I think is a visually interesting scene. The trees at the bottom of the scene soften the sharp edges of the buildings.

Do you have a favorite city scape? Let me know where in the comments!

Photo Friday: Rare / Hydrangeas


Kamakura Hasedera Hydrangeas

Photo Friday Challenge: Rare

Japan is full of things that are fascinating and rare to the Western world, so for the Photo Friday Challenge “Rare” I could have picked many things. For this challenge, I picked hydrangeas or ajisai アジサイ. While hydrangeas themselves are not rare, the season in which hydrangeas bloom is relatively short. And while hydrangeas are blooming, people make trips to view hydrangeas. This is similar to the tradition of flower viewing or hanami 花見 for cherry blossoms or sakura 桜. The tradition of viewing flowers that are in season is very Japanese.

Hydrangeas bloom during the rainy season, or tsuyu 梅雨, which is literally translated to plum rain because plums come into season during tsuyu. The rains are strong and last for as long as two months. This year I was in Tokyo just prior to the start of the rainy season, which started the day I left. In the week leading up to tsuyu it was hot and humid because it wasn’t raining, but it gave a cloudy grey backdrop to make the beautiful blue and purple hues of the hydrangeas pop.

What kind of seasonal traditions does your hometown or country have? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: Fun! / Sanno Matsuri Children


Sanno Matsuri Children

Photo Friday Challenge: Fun!

What expresses Fun better than children? These kids are pulling the mikoshi 神輿 (also 御輿), a portable shrine in which a deity is enshrined, at the 2016 Sanno Festival or Sannou Matsuri 山王祭 in Tokyo, Japan.

The Sanno Matsuri is a summer festival, held in mid June on even numbered years in Tokyo. The Kanda Matsuri is held on odd numbered years. This photo was taken during the grand procession, which begins at Hie Shrine 日枝神社, winds its way through Tokyo for nine hours, and then finally returns to Hie Shrine. There are several places to view the procession, and we caught it on June 10th in Ginza.

Watching the children, who had already been traveling around Tokyo in the hot sun for hours, give it their best as they escorted the mikoshi, and still having fun as they walked beside cars and waited at stoplights in the heat, I was quite impressed at their endurance. As people lined either side of the Ginza streets, we cheered them on in their efforts. Even the adults accompanying them seemed to be having fun!

What do you think of when you hear the theme of fun? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: Morning / Lake Kawaguchiko


Mt Fuji Sunrise over Lake Kawaguchiko

Photo Friday Challenge: Morning

On a cold December morning in 2014, my then-fiance and I crawled out of a cozy ryokan 旅館 bed and drove a block down to the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko 河口湖 to watch the sunrise. We were visiting Yamanashi Prefecture 山梨県, my Japanese hometown, and in the quiet hours of the morning we were the only ones stirring out of doors.

I took this panorama shot with my iPhone, and whenever I look at this (and the other hundred-odd photos I took that morning), the memories of the beauty of the sun rising over Mt. Fuji, the quiet of the morning giving way to the new day, and the return to a delicious Japanese-style breakfast waiting at the traditional Japanese inn or ryokan, come flooding back to me. This might well be my favorite Morning ever…

What is your favorite morning? Share your favorite morning in the comments!

一期一会 Ichigo Ichie


The Japanese idiom 一期一会 ichigo ichie literally translates to “one opportunity, one encounter.” The meaning of this idiom is to treasure every encounter, for it will never recur.

The idiom is derived from Zen Buddhism, and is particularly associated with the Japanese tea ceremony or sadou 茶道. In the context of sadou, ichigo ichie reminds participants that each tea ceremony is unique that will never recur in one’s lifetime, and thus each moment should be treated with the utmost sincerity.

In the context of daily life, think of each encounter as a once-in-a-lifetime chance. So, why not seize the day?