Sapporo: Snow Festival and a "Nice Shot"




February 8, 2014

Snow, Cold 

My dear friends with a camera, 

At first, the Japanese I observe seem distant and cool, focused and serious.  I doubt whether I will have any success shooting people. 

As I walk toward the Sapporo Snow Festival, two young girls cross my path.  Undaunted, I raise my camera and propose “photo?”  The girls respond with an eager smile.  They pose and pose and continue to pose with creative feminine energy.  

I present my work. Cheerfully, they respond, in choral unison, “Nice shot!”    

Sapporo, Japan. Ice Sculptures and Snow Structures




February 9, 2014

Threatening Clouds. Cold. Bitter Cold. Painful Cold.

-9C  16F

So what did you expect, Khun Jan?  Palm trees and a papaya salad?

It’s the Sapporo Snow Festival in the dead of winter.  Across the Sea of Japan.  From Vladivostok.

A layer or two or three.  Hat, scarf, gloves.  Get out of the house!

Otaru, Japan. The Details




February 10, 2014

My friend and professional photographer, Ralph Velasco recently published an ebook entitled “Essence of a Place.”

In the book, Ralph provides a list of types of images that capture the unique elements of any location. 

I followed Ralph’s advice.  In addition to the architecture and the remains of the Snow Festival, I searched for Ralph’s “details” and “patterns” in Otaru, this port city near Sapporo.

I found a few unlikely yet rewarding scenes as I made my solo and lonely stroll in the warehouse district and port alongside the harbor of the Sea of Japan.  (The warehouse district?)

Yes, Ralph is quite correct.  It’s all in the details.

Kyoto: Three Temples



February 15, 2012

Dear Friends, 

There are no fewer than seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto.  I planned to stay for a week so I could visit a few.


The weather in Kyoto is sub-freezing cold and dreary; snow and rain almost every day.   So what can I do?  I visit a few.  A few. 

Kyoto: Higashiyama

Southern Higashiyama



February 18, 2014


My friend Larry recommended a website that a friend of his recommended.   So I followed their advice and strolled through the traditional neighborhood of Southern Higashiyama with its temples, shrines, gardens and parks.  I even found a hillside cemetery.   In several tourist shops, young girls in red kimonos dispense green tea to the tourists.  I wandered into a small art gallery and ….  

Kyoto: Arashiyama - Neat and Tidy




February 19, 2014

My Friends, 

No matter where I go in Japan – on a crowded city street, a subway platform or the subway train itself, a bus, public park or the busy grounds of a festival or tourist attraction - I find not one, not one scrap of paper anywhere.  Not one discarded candy wrapper, not one stray cigarette butt tossed in the street.