Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 21, 2012

Osaka December 2012

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 7:00 am

Osaka Photography.

I got into Osaka last night, had something to eat, a beer and then crashed out for the night. This morning I got up and had breakfast and then went off for a walk around the city to see what was going on. I went through Shin-sekai. It was almost ten o’clock in the morning and hardly anyone was about.

Crab for sale

Further down the road I diverted into the Kuromon Markets. They had lots of sea-food, including a few crabs.

Puffer Fish – Fugu

These puffer fish or fugu were in tanks, waiting for be sold or sliced up.

slicing fugu
Processing fugu

This guy is slicing up the fugu. It can be highly deadly if it is not done properly. If you do not clean out the poisonous bits, it can kill you!

dried fish
Dried Fish

Not sure exactly what this is, probably dried fish.

Pickled Vegetable
Pickled Vegetable

And again, not sure exactly what sort of vegetable it is, but it has most likely been pickled.

The loneliness of the pachinko player

This photo feels sad and lonely to me. There are so many of these gambling places around Japan. They were lined up ready to go at nine in the morning.


Japanese love cute things. It is almost over powering. Kawaiiii, desu ney?

March 16, 2012

Hirakata to Arashiyama

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 8:44 am

66 Kilometer Bike Ride.

Here is Takuto and Toyo at the river in front of the Togetsu Bridge at the end of our marathon 33 kilometer bike ride to Arashiyama against a howling head wind. We started off at Hirakata which is west of Osaka.

Takuto and Toyo in front of the river at Arashiyama

We left our bikes on the other side of the river and walked into the town of Arashiyama over the Togetsu Bridge. Togetsu means “moon crossing” – this bridge was named by Emperor Kameyama because of the resemblance to that phenomenon.

Jinrikisha, “rickshaw” in English

Arashiyama has been a popular tourist destination for more than a thousand years, noted for its natural beauty, mainly cherry blossoms and fall colours. There are quite a few Zen temples in the area and I think one of them has been designated as a world heritage site.

bamboo thicket
Bamboo thicket

The bamboo forests around Arashiyama are some of the most beautiful in Japan. The sound of the wind in this bamboo forest has been voted as one of “one hundred must-be-preserved sounds of Japan” by the Japanese government.

bamboo forest
Sagano Bamboo Forest

We had a buffet style dinner (Kyoto “Obanzai”) at one of the restaurants where we could eat all we wanted for an hour. I had about 3 dishes and tried nearly everything that was put out. I did not like any of the slimy dishes but loved the wasabi vegetables, french onion with mayonnaise, tempura, deep fried fish and pork. The dessert of custard and cream was absolutely delicious. After our feed we went for a walk around the town and saw the Jyojyakkouji temple and the Rakushisya Residence which is a thatched hut that belonged to the 17th century haiku poet Mukai Kyorai. Mukai was a student of Basho Matsuo, one of Japan’s greatest poets.

Togetsu Bridge
Togetsu Bridge

Back over the bridge we went and back on our bikes, stopping at Sewaritei, in the Kyoto district, riding along the Yodo river. After another 33 kilometers we found ourselves back at Hirakata. At least the wind was at our backs on the return journey so it was much easier.

Hirakata Bridge
Takuto and Toyo at the Hirakata Bridge

Thanks to Takuto and Toyo for being such wonderful companions on this bike ride. Thanks especially for Takuto who pushed me along with “ganbatte”, which means “suck it up, princess!”. 🙂

December 19, 2011

Back to Osaka

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 10:10 am

Kansai Photography.

Today I got out with the camera in Osaka. After a very long day flying from Sydney to Cairns, then to Osaka, I woke up feeling a bit dodgy and it took me a while to get going, after going to the 100 Yen shop and then the supermarket. Breakfast was coffee, toast and a boiled egg.

Tempura Vegetables
Tempura vegetables in Kuromon market

After I got organised, I walked through Shin-sekai, then down to the Kuromon markets, which has a whole bunch of seafoods and other food-stuffs for sale. There were tempura vegetables shown above and these delicious tofu-wrapped rice balls below. I forget the names for these but I have made these myself. You roll up the rice and stuff them into these tofu pockets. yum yum.

Rice balls in tofu pockets
Rice balls in tofu pockets

There were heaps of sea-foods as well. This was an octopus and some sort of rock cod I think.

Octopus and fish
Octopus and fish

There were puffer fish alive in tanks waiting to be skillfully made into fugu. I do not intend to try these. If they do not get all the poison out of them properly, you die!

Puffer Fish
Live Fugu

There are pickled vegetables as well as copious amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits.

The veggie shop
Vegetable Shop

After that, I trekked on over to Namba and stopped on the bridge at Dotonburi to take some photos of the fashionable locals. There were a whole bunch of boys hanging around and going up to girls and working some type of scam or other. I never did find out what their gig was.

Cool Dude
Cool Dude

Workin the streets
Working that scam

The ladies were all decked out in their finest and looked absolutely fabulous.

Going shopping
Going Shopping

I was having heaps of problems with my exposures and kept switching from Aperture Priority Mode and Manual mode. I am still not used to this camera. I stuffed up heaps of shots by making them too dark.

Waitin for my man
Waiting for my man

There was not a lot of light as it was an overcast dark day, so the photos are not as sharp as I would like them. I could not get a fast enough shutter speed. Also, I am not so great at photographing people, so I will have to practice it a bit more. I must admit that I find humans to be quite interesting animals to photograph.

How dare you take my photo!
I vant to be alone

April 5, 2011

Osaka 2

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:28 pm

Osaka Castle to Umeda

This morning I took off early to get to see Osaka Castle inside and to take some video of the Japanese Waxwings that have been hanging around outside the keep of the castle. I took 2 subways to the castle and when I got there, the Japanese Waxwings were being photographed by the hordes of bird photographers. There must have been more than a couple of dozen bird photographers snapping away.

Bird Photographers
Bird Photographers

I found out what the Japanese names for the birds were and then did an internet search to find the English names for them. The Japanese names were Hirenjaku and Mahiwa. I still have to edit the video yet, so that will be next post. (Edit) I have finally finished the video and uploaded it so here it is very late.

Birds of Osaka

I then went into the castle and had a look at the exhibits. I liked these little action figures of the Battle of Osaka. I think it was about the 17th century.

Battle of Osaka
The Battle of Osaka

There was also some very interesting newspapers from a couple of hundred years ago. They were printed from wood blocks and I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would be to carve out Japanese script in a mirror image. Oh, maybe they used a mirror. doh! This is the view from the top of the Osaka Castle. Pretty impressive and ironic as it looks out over the modern city.

Osaka city
Osaka City Skyscrapers from the ancient Osaka-jo

After that I took the subway to Umeda and had a look around but there was not much there, it is just a huge terminal for trains, subways and buses. So, next post I will hopefully have the bird videos edited up and ready to go.

April 4, 2011


Filed under: General — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:45 pm

Osaka Castle.

Today my mission was to get to Osaka-jo, Osaka Castle. I walked up towards Nipponbashi and then turned right at Honmachi and walked another couple of kilometers until I got to the museum where there was this structure pictured below. The Hoenzaka Warehouses were built about the last half of the fifth Century. They were large elevated warehouses, having the characteristic multiple supporting posts and “Irimoya” roofing style.

Hoenzaka Warehouse
Hoenzaka Warehouse

I then continued on over the road to the Osaka Castle surrounds. It has a magnificent moat. I would have hated to have been part of an army charged with the task of storming this castle. I can picture the ninjas sneaking in after midnight, though.

Osaka Castle Moat
The moat around Osaka Castle

The current tower of Osaka Castle is the third one since the Toyotomi and Tokugawa periods. The present structure was restored by the mayor of Osaka during the Showa period. There were many other people there taking the exact same photo as this one.

Osaka Castle

There were a few couples getting their photos taken in traditional costume. I still do not know what it is all about but I promise to find out before I leave. The bloke was standing off to the side having a durry and looking very bored in his kimono.

Traditional Photo
Traditional Costume

I met a few fellow bird photographers on the way out and they were getting some great shots of some birds in the cherry blossoms. I tried to ask what the names of the birds were but I could not quite make out what they were saying. Cue an internet search. brb. I think they were Eurasian Siskin and maybe something like a grosbeak or a bullfinch. Anyway, on with the show. This next photo is of a typical past-time when the Cherry blossoms bloom (Sakura). It is called Hanami and consists of sitting under the cherry blossoms and drinking sake and having a picnic. It is a tradition in Japan.

Hanami at Sakura
Hanami at Sakura time

April 3, 2011

Shopping in Osaka

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:12 pm

Honshu, Japan.

This morning I took off from Nara and caught the train to Osaka. Again, a kindly lady helped me cope with the complexities of Japanese trains. But it was really easy. I just got off at Shin-Imamiya Station and walked down the street to find my hotel. Osaka is very different to Kyoto. It seems more working class and grungy. Kyoto is reputed to be more refined and cultured. I dumped my bags off at the Hotel and went for a walk to Den Den town, which is the electronic shops location in Osaka. It was not very good. The prices were not cheap and there was not much variety. There are heaps of these shops where girls go in and use cranes to pick up a fluffy toy. They are really into “cute”.

girlie arcade
Girlie Arcade

Further up, I found the Namba district which has heaps of shops that have very in your face advertising methods. The colours for the graphics and advertisements are very vivid and colourful. The spruikers are yelling out to come and buy their stuff and they have people with signs directing shoppers to their stores. It is sell, sell, sell.

Namba Shopping Mall
Namba shopping mall

Everywhere you go in Japan, there are Pachinko parlours. I finally worked up the courage to go into one and take a photo and some video. The noise is unbelievable. Watch the video further down the page to get the full effect.

Pachinko Parlour

Sashimi on a rice ball is a very common feed here in Japan. You can buy it in a bento box from the supermarket as well. I tried Sashimi once but did not like it. I prefer my fish cooked.

Slap some sashimi on it mate
Sashimi on a Rice Ball, please

Nearly all the young people have all these trinkets and cute fluffy little toys hanging off chains from their pockets or their backpacks. I do not understand it. But I am not really interested in cute “things”.

Trinkets for sale
Roll up, get your trinkets here

This guy was cooking Spider Crab. They had a huge spider crab above the shop.

Cooking crab
Cooking Crab

Another example of some direct advertising to catch your attention. It worked on me. The only problem was I did not have a clue what he was selling.

Crazy Hiro
Crazy Hiro

I went into a Pachinko Parlour and filmed it to convey the noise of the place. I also filmed some politician dude walking around town and some other crazy things. Video shows the extreme nature of the assault on the senses that is a Japanese city.

Shopping in Osaka video

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