my articles

Magic Mountains

Tweet Explaining the Shugendo religion would be a job for a book, not a blog post. But let’s just say it’s a colourful mix of Buddhism, Japan’s ancient Shinto religion, and even more ancient native animism. Shugendo’s adherents are known as Yamabushi – men (and a few women) who undertake arduous ascetic training in the […]

Stars in his eyes

Tweet I’ve done a few fun interview portraits recently. This one was of planetarium designer Takayuki Ohira. He started off making papercraft projectors in his bedroom and eventually came up with a professional-grade device that could show orders of magnitude more stars than any other. He’s quite the nutty professor, and a household name in […]

Food for thought

Tweet I’ve had a few stories in the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan magazine before now, but this is the first time on the cover. A project close to my heart too. As I wrote in the text (see below) to go with these portraits, I have enormous respect for the people producing Japan’s fantastic […]

School of hard knocks

Tweet I had a three page photo story in this month’s No. 1 Shimbun, the magazine of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Tokyo. Here it is below. A little while ago I had the privilege to meet and photograph Doreen Simmons, the incredible 78-year-old sumo expert and commentator on NHK. The job was for one […]

work place

Tweet The magazine I edit, EURObiZ Japan, has been running a monthly column on Europeans working in Tokyo, and I’ve been taking the photos. These are the first five portraits. There’s a lady who sells foie gras, two architects, a pattisier, a man who imports Dutch goods and a scuba diving instructor. (Thanks to our […]

Interviewing Baruto

Tweet Way back in March 2005 I had the very good fortune to interview a little-known Estonian sumo wrestler – Baruto. After the recent Osaka basho Baruto looks certain to be promoted to Ozeki rank. So, in celebration, I’m reposting my Japan Times story. Gochandesu. Past the pain and language barriers. Estonian not thrown by […]

Jacques Payet, Yoshinkan Aikido master

Tweet The Yoshinkan Aikido dojo in Takadanobaba, Tokyo. This was the first time I’ve photographed, or even seen, Aikido and was for my new job.  I was very kindly invited by 7th Dan master Jacques Payet. My first impression of Aikido training was that it looks like a mixture of effortless grace and intense pain […]

Foreign Correspondent 2.0

Tweet One of the reasons I haven’t been posting much recently is that late last year I took a job as the editor of EURObiZ Japan, a new magazine for the members of the European Chamber of Commerce in Japan. I’ve enjoyed freelancing immensely, so it wasn’t an easy decision. But it was definitely time […]

Entomophagy in Japan

Tweet My story on bug-eating was on the front page of the Japan Foreign Correspondent’s Club magazine this month. Hope it’s not on display in the restaurant. The photos were picked up by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper too and run as a slideshow. (Many thanks to the Telegraph’s generous food critic Japan correspondent Julian Ryall […]

Koichi Wakata’s underpants

Tweet A brief (ahem) story I did for National Geographic News. It’s on the experiments Japanese astronaunt Koichi Wakata will  perform on himself during his upcoming shuttle mission. Koichi Wakata underpants This nice lady at JAXA showed me the high-tech deoderant underwear that Wakata will trial. Apparently the shuttle is a pretty smelly place. There’s […]

Tokyo Commuter Hell

Tweet Tokyo commuters My corner of photojournalism isn’t exactly front-line war reporting. But I think this story was about the closest I’ve come to being physically assaulted in Japan so far. Two years ago I was writing about the Tokyo transport system (pdf) and went out to get some rush hour train photos. (Only just […]

Creepy crawly cuisine

Tweet Earlier this week I photographed probably the sweetest middle aged couple I have met in Japan. On a gorgeous Autumn morning I visited them at their cosy little detached Japanese house in a pretty part of Western Tokyo. As we talked they introduced me to their pets, told me about their hobbies and plied […]

Super Handicapped Pro-Wrestling

Tweet disabled wrestler Earlier this year I did a story on a group of disabled wrestlers called Doglegs: Super Handicapped Pro-wrestling. It sounds like the most incredibly crass bad taste idea ever. But after actually seeing one of their events I kind of understood why the wrestlers said it was empowering for them. These photos […]

How to survive a bear attack in Japan

Tweet Japanese brown bear . . . Not so long ago I was up in Hokkaido covering preparations for the G8 summit. One side story was the trouble residents of the Shireoko National Park were having with brown bears. You might think Japanese bears are pretty small and cuddly compared to the Northern American variety, […]

Being disabled in Japan

Tweet This is the story for the Japan Times I blogged on a while back. Out today. “Access all areas: camping trip offers no-holds-barred insight into disability It is the early hours of the morning and I’m sat out in the open air. My eyes are closed and my hand is clutched tightly around a […]

Plastic food factory

Tweet Now, the weird thing about plastic food you see in restaurant windows in Japan is not just that it looks completely real. It’s actually made in a way that mimics real cooking. Chefs chop and dice plastic vegetables and spoon plastic curry and rice onto real plates. They even put plastic pasta through a […]

Kusaya photos: Possibly the smelliest photo job ever

Tweet I’ve just got back from several days on the island of Hachijojima (45 minutes by plane from Tokyo, pop. 8,500). I thought I’d do a story on kusaya, a kind of malordorous preserved fish that Hachijojima is famous – or rather notorious – for. What does it smell like? Suffice to say the name […]

Interviewing Bando Tamasaburo

Tweet No pictures today because I was strictly on text duty. One of the biggest interviews I’ve done so far too. Bando Tamasaburo is the greatest living Kabuki onnagata (male actor playing a female role) in Japan. See him in gorgeous action below. I don’t normally get nervous before interviews, but there’s a difference between […]

Vanishing Arctic Ice May Hurt Japan’s Wildlife, Tourism

Tweet My National Geographic News article about the Shiretoko drift-ice in Hokkaido has just gone online.  Two  photos in the gallery : ) “For decades the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido has attracted tourists hoping to step out onto drifting slabs of the world’s southernmost Arctic sea ice. Free-floating pieces of ice that form each […]

Alex Kerr Interview

Tweet I’ve interviewed Alex Kerr a few times now, and he’s always a fascinating person to talk to. This interview was mostly about the exquisite Kyoto machiya townhouses his organization is restoring. Interview conducted by telephone to Bali (!) and for the ACCJ Journal. “A ryokan is lovely, but ryokan are not homes; they are […]

Imperial Tombs

Tweet For National Geographic News . . . “A rare visit by archaeologists to a fifth-century imperial tomb offers hope that other closely guarded graves in Japan might soon be open to independent study. This month a group of 16 experts led by the Japanese Archaeological Association released results from their February visit inside Gosashi […]

waiting with Hachiko

Tweet Here’s a photo story I did for the American Club Magazine – one day spent waiting by Hachiko in Shibuya and taking portraits of the people there. Click HERE for pdf (PS. Welcome to my new WordPress blog!)

sento painter

Tweet This is an article on Toshiyasu Hayakawa, a Tokyo “sento” bath-house painter. I was pretty pleased with the photos here: two trips to the bath house, the second one with my friend Chris – his debut nude modelling shoot!

Globalization on a plate

Tweet Another article on sushi, this one about the globalized sushi industry. “Rainbow Roll isn’t a typical Tokyo sushi restaurant. Bright and spacious, it’s more like an upmarket izakaya restaurant pub. You could easily miss the traditional hinoki-wood counter at the back. The menu suggests little traditional sushi. Tokyo’s oldest New York-style sushirestaurant opened in […]