Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

February 23, 2012

Temples and Ploughs

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 10:09 am

Japanese Dichotomy.

This morning I got up and went for a ski but got bored real quick as there was not any fresh powder to play in. Pistes get old very quickly for me. So I came in early and decided to go shopping instead. Wow! On the way there I stopped in at the local Furano Shinto temple to take a few photos. On New Year’s Eve many Japanese come to the Furano shrine to welcome in the new year. This is a traditional practice that was passed down through the generations. The bell is rung 108 times to symbolize the worldly desires that will be cleaned away to welcome in the fresh new year.

furano shinto temple
Furano Shinto Temple

There were all these plaques hanging on a board in the temple grounds, so I asked boss-san what they were and he said that they were ema. Ema are small wooden plaques on which Shinto devotees write their prayers or hopes, usually at New Year’s. These ema are then left hanging up at the shrine where the spirits will receive them.


Then I trucked on into town and took a photo of some of the secular aspects of small town Japanese life. This is about as normal as you can get.

furano crossroads

Down one of the main streets they were chomping up the snow and putting it into trucks and carting it away somewhere. I think they cart it off to farmer’s fields so that when it melts, it will water the coming crops. But I am not totally sure about that. It sounds like a good idea to me. No use wasting resources.

snow chomper
Snow Chomper

The snow plough came and cleaned up after the snow chomper. I keep thinking about Homer Simpson whenever I see one of these, I do not know why. doh!

snow plough
Snow Plough

And last but not least, is Cinderella’s magic pumpkin coach, all lit up with fairy lights at the Furano Marche. How cute is that? Kawaiiii, desu ney?

cinderella's magic pumpkin
Cinderella’s magic pumpkin coach

February 20, 2012

Japanese Dancers

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — admin @ 6:20 am

Shigin-Kado and Shigin-Buyo.

Shigin is a form of Japanese poetry, which is usually chanted, either individually or within a group. Buyo or Nippon/Nihon Buyo is a traditional Japanese performing art, a mixture of dance and pantomime.

Samurai Dance
Samurai Dance

According to the Japanese Classical Dance Association, “nihon buyo is an artistic dance based on the tradition of classical techniques transmitted from preceding forms of art, and expressed through the medium of the stage.”

Dance with spear
Dancer with spear

Flower Arranging
Flower Arranging

Dance with fan
Dancer with fan


Samurai Dance
Samurai Dance

Dance with spear
Dance with spear

February 18, 2012


Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , — admin @ 10:43 am

Furano, Hokkaido, Japan.

I had heard yesterday that there had been an avalanche on the Premium Zone (Kumatoshi) and this morning I saw a photo of it. So on the way up the gondola, I had the camera ready to take some photos of the avalanche from the window of the Gondola.

Kumatoshi Avalanche
Avalanche Kumatoshi

When I got close enough to see the avalanche I started snapping away, but it was difficult from the window and with my helmet on. doh! But I think I got enough to show the full extent of it.

Kumatoshi Avalanche
Kumatoshi Avalanche

I took this shot from the top of the link chair. You can see the full extent of it from this angle.

Premium Zone Avalanche.
Kumatoshi Avalanche

The Premium Zone to the right of the avalanche seemed ok.

Premium Zone up the top
Premium Zone, further to the right and above.

The Dam run or the Widowmaker had a big crack in it as well and could go off at any time.

Cracks in the Widowmaker

The face to the right above the top of Furano Ropeway has some massive cracks in it as well.
Cracks in the face
To the right of the Ropeway

The rest of the morning I just took some scenic shots.

View from top of gondola
View from the top of the Kitanomine Gondola

Above ropeway
Just above the ropeway

snow scrub
Snow Scrub

snow lip
Snow lip

furano and tokachidake
Furano has a bridge, a Pachinko Parlour, and Tokachidake mountain

Trees in the National Park

February 14, 2012

Chair Ski Ramen

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:44 am

Furano, Hokkaido.

We got the first chairlift up the mountain today. There was only about five centimeters of fresh snow on the Kitanomine side. Here is Toyo walking to the ski-jo.

Kitanomine Ski-jo
Kitanomine Ski-jo

So, up the quad chair we went and back down for a warm-up run.

Buddy on the Chair-lift

Then off up the Downhill chair, or as it is correctly called, Kitanomine Daini lifto. Here is Boris and Toyo on a couple of chairs ahead of me. I got them to wave. Aren’t they obedient?

Boris and Toyo
Boris and Toyo on the Dai-ni lifto

I managed to get a shot of a random snowboarder from the chair as he skied down the side of the run.

Random snowboarder
Random snowboarder

After that, we went over to the Furano side and skied down the Challenge run. It is becoming our favourite run this year. Here is Toyo skiing the powder on his 1980 skinny skis. Hard Kore!

Toyo Skiing
Toyo shredding the Gnar

Around half past eleven we stopped for lunch at the noodle restaurant at the bottom of the Furano Ropeway. We just managed to get our orders in before the power went off. It was lucky we stopped when we did, else we would have been stuck up the ropeway for half an hour or so freezing our butts off!

Ramen Shop
Ramen Cooking in the vats

I had a pork bun and a sandwich, plus a free glass of water.

Ramen for lunch
Ramen for lunch

February 12, 2012

Skiing and Cooking

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , — admin @ 10:44 am

Japanese Style.

These are some of the photos that I have taken over the past week or so. The snow has been dumping down for about five days so I have had little inclination to take any photos because I just want to ski the fresh powder.

Ropeway crowd
Crowd waiting for the ropeway at Furano ski-jo

There is no time to stop and take any photos. ha ha.


That is the skiing part taken care of. When we are back at the hostel, we rustle up some mean grub.

Ryan chopping up a sweet potato, I think

Boris cooking dinner

This is a pretty standard lunch for me. Noodles with wakame (seaweed) and moyashi (bean sprouts). I usually chuck in dried garlic and chilli.

Lunch in Japan
My lunch

Sometimes with dinner I have a can of Chu-hai, which is Korean rot-gut vodka type drink made out of sweet potatoes and mixed with fruit juice such as lemon or grapefruit. It is delicious.

February 3, 2012

Furano Ski Hosts

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: — admin @ 10:27 am

Snow Deprivation.

There has been no snow for about four days here in Furano. I am starting to go a bit troppo. The other day I went out skiing just to keep up my fitness. The guys from the Alpine went out in their hot air balloons and we could see tham from up on the mountain. I managed to snag this shot which was lucky because they were really too far away for a decent photo.

hot air balloon
Hot Air Balloon over Furano

Someone had told me that Totoro was at the bottom of the single chair in Kitanomine and I thought it was some dude in a Totoro costume. But it was a snow sculpture that the lifties had been doing. Nearly every lift has a snow sculpture at the bottom. They must have a contest or something going on. If you do not already know, Totoro is a character out of a Studio Ghibli anime movie.

Totoro Snow Sculpture

This morning I got up early and went for a ski with Boris. While waiting I took some photos of my room-mate Gareth. I have not done a lot of portrait photography so I am just learning. Today I realised I have no idea how to process portraits of humans. I know how to do birds and animals, but not humans. I must do a tutorial and learn how.


At the ski-jo, we ran into the ladies from the child minding facility, Kojima Academy.

Kojima Academy
Kojima Academy

And the snow sculpture at the bottom of the Kitanomine Gondola. I have no idea what it is. doh!

snow sculpture
Snow sculpture

During the morning we skied with the Ski Hosts. You can book the previous day, and the nice locals will show you around the mountain for free. It is a great service and one that new visitors to Furano should take advantage of.

Furano ski hosts
With the Ski hosts at the top of the Ropeway

And, it started snowing during the day, so it looks like the drought has broken. woot!

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