The Seiko-Epson Micro Artist Studio

Tweet The Micro Artist Studio in Nagano prefecture is where Seiko-Epson make their Sonnerie luxury watch. I was up there for a story earlier this year. Each Sonnnerie costs 15.7 million yen and is made from 630 parts over 12 months.  There are 12 “micro-artists” in the workshop but all the watches are assembled by […]

An explosive assignment

Tweet Question: How do you launch a 120cm diameter, 420kg “yonshakudama” fireworks shell – the largest in the world? Answer: Spend a year making it, bury a length of ex-oil pipeline in the ground, insert the shell, blast it 800 meters in the air, make sure spectators stay nearly a kilometer away, watch and enjoy. […]

Lighthouses of the West Coast

Tweet Superb photos by my friend and partner in crime Mattias Westfalk of lighthouses on the West Coast of the US. Last Spring we spent 2 weeks travelling from San Francicso to Seattle and visiting every lighthouse we could for an inflight magazine. I was on a relatively rare these days text-only gig. (The story […]

Hiraizumi – a Buddhist paradise in the deep north

Tweet I have a bad case of itchy feet. It’s been a while since I’ve spent so long stuck in Tokyo, so I know exactly what the haiku poet Basho is talking about here . . . “The months and days are the travelers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers. […]

Down and out gaijin walks from Hiroshima to Hokkaido

Tweet Thanks to Alfie for putting me on to this. There’s a very unusual new blog by a non-Japanese from Hiroshima. Here’s how he explains it: My name is Isaak, and I’m a homeless wanderer in Japan.  After going through an incredibly painful divorce and being let go from my job, I’ve decided to take […]

Ghibli museum

Tweet I visited the Ghibli museum in Mitaka last week for my story on Miyazaki Hayao. Last time I was there it had only been open for a couple of years. This time I was struck by just how Ghibli-esque the whole area around the museum has become. The park by the museum, Inokashira Koen, […]

Mount Fuji photos

Tweet Day trip to Osaka yesterday for a story on instant ramen (of all things). On the way back I remembered to ask for a seat with a view of Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji Not bad for pictures taken through an inch of window glass!

Kanamara fertility festival [NSFW]

Tweet These photos are from the Kanamara festility festival in Kawasaki, Spring 2007. Kanamara literally means “iron penis”. The festival is said to have been started by local prostitutes for protection against syphillis. These days it raises money for AIDs education. The main event of the festival involves hefting an enormous pink phallus through the […]

Manga shops in Tokyo

Tweet Where is Tokyo’s biggest manga shop? Earlier this week I was taking photos in Ikebukuro  for a story on manga.  I asked around to try and find Tokyo’s largest manga shop but drew a complete blank. Shops seem to specialize in one particular demographic or sell second hand books. Anyway, for what it’s worth, […]

Takao – Tokyo’s mystical mountain

Tweet I climbed Mount Takao near Tokyo yesterday for a photoessay I’m working on. These are statues of “tengu” goblin, which the mountain is famous for. There are two kinds: one with green and with a beak, and one with a red face and long nose. They both have a reputation for causing trouble – […]

How to melt a Nikon

Tweet Nambu-tekki ironware, one of the shoots I did in Northern Japan last week. Hot Hot Hot. I decided that August is NOT the ideal month to be taking photos of an iron foundry. I can’t imagine how the people who work there cope. Apart from anything they have to keep as much skin covered […]

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Tweet Writing this from a somewhat dingy hotel in Mizusawa, Northern Japan. Two stories this trip – one on Iwate ironware and one on Sendai whisky. Bumped into Matsuo Basho yesterday, or rather his statue, at a temple in Hiraizumi. He penned a famous haiku in the town: “The summer’s grass / is all that’s […]