Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 15, 2017

Large-billed Crow and Coal Tit

Filed under: Birds,Japan — Tags: — admin @ 8:22 am

Hokkaido Birding.

I went for another walk down to the river at Furano today. I was looking for the Large-billed Crow, Brown-eared Bulbul and White-tailed Eagle. I have video’ed these birds many years before but did not have photos of them.

Large-billed Crow
Large-billed Crow ( Corvus macrorhynchos)

I dipped out on the Brown-eared Bulbul and White-tailed Eagle. But I have seen them around here. I just have to be patient. The crow was on the tree right next to the hostel. They are quite common here. The only problem was it was freezing cold. One of the guys said it was minus twenty today. I had to take photos with my gloves on.

Coal Tit
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)

I had no idea which tit it was at first and had to go to the internet for some help with identification. I am reasonably sure I have got the identification right on this one.

Coal Tit
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)

Many thanks to http://www.hakodatebirding.com for the identification help. There is a brilliant search engine on there. Seriously fabulous.

January 10, 2017

Snow Clearing in Japan

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 5:02 am

Furano, Hokkaido.

It was a great morning skiing today in Furano. About 10-20 cms of fresh powder snow. I gave it a good shake until I started aching in my bones so I came in for lunch. Whilst having my standard hakusai, moyashi and egg sandwichi, I spotted the snow clearing going on. I love all the snow clearing machinery. So I grabbed the point and shoot and rushed out onto the road to take some photos of the wonderful machines.

back hoe
Back Hoe.

After chomping off big chunks of snow wall along the road, the snow muncher/blower goes back up the road while the other machines push more snow onto the road. The back hoe pulls it onto the road from the sides.

grader
Grader.

The grader scoops it up into neat piles.

front-end loader
Front-end Loader.

And the front-end loader cleans up more snow from the sides.

snow muncher
Snow muncher/blower

December 31, 2016

Portraits and a bird

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — admin @ 5:21 am

Furano, Hokkaido

It is the last day of the year. This morning I took some portrait shots of the guests at the hostel at which I am staying. The first one is of Yong, from Korea. He is a fantastic photographer.

Yong
Yong.

Ben just gave himself a mohawk last night. He looks the part of badass backcountry snowboarder.

Ben
Ben.

And my good friend Rohan. From New Zealand.

Rohan
Rohan.

After breakfast, I took off down the snowy road towards the river. I was hoping for White-tailed Eagles and Large-billed Crows, but alas, never saw them. The walk along the Sorachi River was quite refreshing and brisk.

Sorachi River
Sorachi River

I saw one bird. And I could not positively identify it. doh! Was it a Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)? possibly. MARSH TIT ? no. Coal Tit ? no.

Willow Tit , maybe
Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)?

According to Lizzie Harper: “The Willow tit is a slightly yellower grey-brown than the Marsh tit, and its black cap extends further down its neck. It also has a black bib, but this tends to be messier than that of the Marsh tit. It also has a pale panel on the wing which is lacking in both its cousin and my illustration. It’s chest and stomach are slightly less pale than the Marsh tit.”

December 23, 2016

Furano, Hokkaido Ice Bar

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 11:46 am

Kan Kan Mura.

It has been snowing since yesterday. The lifts were all closed today because of the high winds. Hoping for some skiing time at Furano tomorrow. The boss invited the boys at the hostel to the opening of his ice bar at Kan Kan Mura, which is just below the Furano Ropeway.

alex and yosta
Alex and Yosta before the event.

Futoshi the boss took us in his Toyota Hi-ace. The roads are all covered in snow and it was an adventure-filled ride.

Futoshi-san
Futoshi-san.

We had some drinks at the ice bar, then went for a wander around to see the sights.

ice bar
Ice Bar.

Someone had made a teepee out of plastic and put coloured lights inside. It looked pretty fabulous.

snow teepee
Coloured Snow Teepee.

The trees were all lit up by coloured lights as well.

lit up tree
Lit-up tree

Thank you very much Futoshi-san for taking us to the ice bar. 🙂

August 15, 2016

Ski Plan Japan

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — admin @ 6:05 am

Hokkaido Skiing Itinerary

I had to plan an itinerary for my mate Andy, so I thought I may as well share it with everyone because it would be helpful for others.

Rusutsu

Rusutsu is sick. Wide-open powder and plenty of trees. There is no cheap dirt-bag accommodation so you have to stay at the ultra-expensive hotel or some mid-range pensions. Here are a few recommendations.

1. Pension Sky Be
http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Hokkaido/Rusutsu/PensionSkyBe.aspx

2. Ohisama House
http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Hokkaido/Rusutsu/OhisamaHouse.aspx

3. Pension Lilla Huset

4. Pension Clydesdale

More Options for hotels

To get there, take the bus from Sapporo Airport , Niseko, or Sapporo.

Kiroro

Kiroro has got some great powder runs. But there are only expensive hotels there. So unless you are a super-rich yuppy, then the only option is to stay at Otaru and catch the bus up the hill each day.

Smile Hotel Otaru, Dormitory L, and Otaru Guesthouse Harvest are close to the station and reasonably priced.

Sapporo

You can stay at Sapporo and ski a couple of resorts close to the city such as Kokusai and Teine.

Hotels near station – APA Hotel Sapporo Susukino Ekimae , Nest Hotel Sapporo Odori. Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi, Richmond Hotel Sapporo Odori.

Niseko

Niseko can get crowded and tracked-out early. But if you know what you are doing and get out of bed early then there is some of the best skiing in the world. Here is my secret tip. Stay at Annupuri and ski that side before all the maggotts do the traverse over from Hirafu. If you want you can buy an all-mountain pass and ski hirafu and hanazono as well.

Alex gate 9
Annupuri Gate 9

For a room, have a look at the Niseko Annupuri Youth Hostel

Also, have a look at Moiwa. Some great powder skiing there, and there is a reasonable lodge right at the bottom of the lifts.

Furano

There are two parts to Furano, Kitanomine and Furano. It is a nice place because it still has the feel of a Japanese town, not a resort.

Place to stay include: Furano Alpine Backpackers, Furanui.

Kitanomine ski resort
Kitanomine

Kamui

Close to Asahikawa, this resort has some fantastic powder skiing. Although, it may be hard to find a room at the resort, you may have to stay in Asahikawa.

Best Plan for a month

Fly into Shin-Chitose. bus to Niseko. Stay in either Annupuri or Moiwa.
Bus to Rusutsu, stay at pension near lifts.
Furano, with day trips to Kamui and/or Tomamu.
Sapporo, ski at Kokusai/Teine.

March 17, 2015

Isshin-ji Temple and Shin-sekai

Filed under: Japan — admin @ 7:36 am

Isshinji Temple.

My last day in Japan and I had checked out of my hotel. So I went for a walk with the camera. I wanted to go somewhere different so I went past the zoo and found this amazing temple up the hill. The Isshin-ji Temple is the common people’s temple and a lot of what was there I did not understand.

statue
Stone statue.

I saw an interesting entrance with some old stone carvings and what seemed like a garden but I think it might be some kind of cemetery. This fierce looking dude was holding up a huge globe – the world?

fierce stonework
Fierce dude.

I really liked the textures on some of the stone carvings. Do not ask me what it means.

kanji scupture
Kanji carving on stone.

Someone had left a can of coffee for this buddha.

boss buddha
Boss Buddha.

Another fierce dude. My guess is they are supposed to drive away or deter malevolent beings.

angry art
Bug Eyed Monster.

Shin-sekai

After the temple I followed the tourist route through Shinsekai. As it was Sunday there were heaps of people gawking at all the sights.

pachinko parlour
Looking into a pachinko parlour.

Except for the dudes in the pachinko parlour, who are oblivious to everything but little metal balls rolling down a machine.

lookout tower
The lookout tower.

And of course one must take a photo of the tower. It is mandatory.

shinsekai street
Street scene.

And here are the gawkers.

lunch menu
Restaurant menu board.

Lots of places to eat with touts outside trying to entice you inside.

Untitled
Gotta get that selfie.

Selfies are all over the world.

okonomoyaki ad
Advertising the okonomiyaki.

angry chef
Angry chef.

Is this the japanese version of Gordon Ramsay?

February 4, 2015

Furano, Hokkaido

Filed under: Japan — admin @ 11:15 am

A Winter Walk.

Today I went for a walk into Furano town. It is in the center of Hokkaido by the Sorachi River.

Tokachidake Mountain
A view of Tokachidake from Kitanomine

Kitanomine ski resort
Kitanomine skijo

prayer disks 2
shinto prayer disk, ema.

prayer disks
more ema

prayer notes
paper prayers, omikuji

rooftop
shinto temple roof

Sorachi Riverbank
Sorachi River bank

moon over tokachidake
Moon coming up over Tokachidake

January 30, 2015

Yurtz Rail Jam

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — admin @ 12:22 pm

Hirafu Niseko.

Tonight I went down the road to the Rail Jam, which was skiing and snowboarding on a rail. Park tricks.

Rail Jam Yurtz
Big Crash.

Rail Jam Yurtz 2
sliding

Rail Jam Yurtz 3
Snowboarding park trick

Rail Jam Yurtz 4
skier park trick

Rail Jam Yurtz 5
Riding the rail

Rail Jam Yurtz 6
skier

January 17, 2015

Niseko Sunny Day

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , , — admin @ 6:19 am

Hirafu.

Yesterday the sun came out again. No new snow.

super ridge
Super Ridge

kutchan
Kutchan

Looking towards Kutchan from up the top of Hirafu.

niseko peak
The peak at Hirafu

niseko peak 2
Hirafu Peak

January 14, 2015

Annupuri Skiing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 5:47 am

A Sunny Day.

Today it was a sunny day for a change. No new snow but at least the sun was out for a while. The wind was a bit chilly up the top of the mountain but down below it was ok. I took a few photos on my point and shoot. This was last night.

Kayo-chan
Kayoko

Sean and Mark
Sean and Mark

We took the hooded chair up to the top, then Ace number 4 and traversed across to Annupuri.

Niseko village
Looking towards Niseko Village

We did a few runs down below the quad chair. Then up the Annupuri Gondola to the top of the hill.

Kayo at annupuri
Annupuri

Then traverse back to Hirafu.

annupuri tree
Annupuri tree.

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