Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Shirakawa photos


Some photos from a walk along the Shirakawa River In Kyoto

Photo journal from 6/9/2019:

Color shot with flowers out of focus in the foreground.
Someone standing on the Shirakawa Ippon bridge.
You can see the stone Furumonzen Bridge in the background; which is in front of Chion-in Temple, near the popular Gion Yasaka Shrine.

Part color yellow shot with foreground in focus.

Someone in a kimono posing on the Shirakawa Ippon Bridge.

A shot of the clear waters of the Shirakawa river.
Using a CPL (circular polarization lens) to control the surface glare on the water.

Hydrangea. Shot with a yellow center hole lens.

Another shot with a yellow center hole lens.
You can see some distortion around the flower where the rim of the lens hole is.
Also using a pop filter to enhance the vividness of the blue and green.

Without the pop filter.

A retro filter for more of a sepia hue.

You can see how the yellow center hole filter affects the outer edge colors of the flower bush, while the center has the original color

You can make out a color spotlight here with the yellow center hole lens.

Yellow center hole lens, making the environment seem like a darker sunset scene, while the kimonos can remain more white.
The lens also makes the greenery seem more green.

Yellow center hole lens shooting from a distance as someone passes over the Shirakawa Ippon Bridge.
At a distance the bridge looks like it is super narrow but it reasonable when you are standing on top of it.

Hydrangeas along the river, near Keihan Gion-Shijo station.

There is a clear spotlight effect with the yellow center hole filter.

Someone on the Shirakawa Ippon Bridge. Full color.

Part color green show.
Everything is in black and white except for the greenery.


Monday, June 24, 2019

G20 Summit Disruptions

G20 Summit in Osaka 2019

File:2019 G20 Osaka summit logo.svg
The logo for this year's G20 in Japan.
Decorated with Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms;
 though cherry blossoms season was months ago and Osaka is quite far from Mt. Fuji.

There has been a press coverage about the activities of the G20 Summit in Osaka in the final lead up to the event. The large conference of national leaders representing 20 large governments will be meeting to discuss economic (and political) policies.

2019 will be the 14th G20 meeeting, the last G20 event was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2018.
The Buenos Aires Summit was attended by such world leaders as Trump (USA), Moon (S. Korea), Putin (Russia), Muhammad bin Salman (prince of Saudi Arabia), Merkel (Germany), Modi (India), Abe (Japan), Trudeau (Canada) and Xi (China), among others.

Because of the high profile political nature of the gathering, the G20 usually attracts a number of international protesters. For these reasons the host country that is responsible for security has to take extreme measures to secure the event. The last G20 in Argentina had two bomb attacks, aimed at local politicians by political opponents or anarchists. The 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg Germany was full of street protests where property was damaged in 13 arson attacks in addition to 25 registered protest demonstrations with as many as 100,000 protesters in Germany with as many as 20,000 people participating in the largest single demonstration (which was a people dance-protest-march called Lieber tanz ich als G20). There were many protesters who were intentionally trying to block the attending representatives from travel routes.

Holding the G20 Summit it Buenos Aires was beleived to have lessened the attendance of international protesters due to the remoteness of Argentina (relative to the previous year in central Europe).

This year there has been no publicity about planned protests but the city of Osaka has been ramping up security in the city as they prepare to welcome foreign VIPs.
The roster of world leaders attending is quite similar to last year; with the notable of exception of Saudi Arabia which will be represented by King Salman instead of prince Muhammad bin Salman (who was linked to the activity of assassination squads this year). There is also the possibility that some special invited guests may appear from a number of non-G20 nations (Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Spain, Senegal, Egypt, Chile and the Netherlands).

The people in Osaka are being inconvenienced with a number of security measure for the G20:
  1. Railway lockers and garbage cans
  2. Increased Airport security
  3. Japan Times/SoraNews articles report the temporary closing red light districts (Tobita and Matsushima)
  4. Osaka Castle will be closed for the event, the VIPs are expected there for a photo-op event.
  5. There are streets signs everywhere about route closures, expected traffic disruptions
  6. Theme park storage lockers (at USJ)
  7. There are a number of patrol ships in the ATC ar area near the Intex meeting place with sightings of Japans largest military ship near Temposan port (the Kaga helicopter carrier/ destroyer).
  8. Schools will be closed on June 27-28 across Osaka city.
  9. People are being encouraged to take public transit rather than risk the delays of driving on public streets during the G20 (so crowding and delays are to be expected on the trains).
  10. Police are massing riot equipment in government property with many police officers coming into Osaka from outside police departments.
  11. Police are running constant patrols of the venues that will be used to host the G20 as well as drilling police on motorcade formations.
  12. Businesses around the Intex convention site (and probably scattered around the city, based on attitudes and frustration) will be closed during the event.
  13. The observation deck of Umeda Sky Building will be closed; it seems this will be another photo-op point for leaders.
  14. Even railway garbage bins in Kobe and far off Tokyo are reported to closed during the immediate run-up to the summit.
  15. Cruise ships around Osaka.
  16. The Osaka Immigration Office.
  17. Nakatsu station will be completely closed (people who live in the nearby residential area will just have to walk from Port Town Nishi station or Trade Center Mae station.

Here is a collection of Tweets and social media information about some of the disruptions to society that are being caused in Japan before the G20 Summit starts:

There have been a number of unwieldy, armored police vans driving around Osaka; presumably many of these are being driven by people who are being brought in from police departments outside of Japan, so the drivers may not be familiar with the Osaka roads. So near miss situations like these are what you might expect.

Local social media users are on Twitter asking why world leaders can't simply communicate electronically, rather than causing inconvenience to locals and creating security situations.

Police equipment massing around Osaka Castle where there are various public parks, public schools, government offices, police offices, public hospitals, etc.

Twitter messages in Japanese and English from tourism ambassador accounts.

Police are quite visible at trains stations, especially on Nanko, near the Intex convention center.
You see special portable security cameras set up at other stations where there are not standing police officers.

Just as police presence was escalating due to the G20 Summit there was an incident were a deranged man used a knife to attack a police officer and take his gun. The incident seems to have no connection to G20 and the man was arrested after eluding the police for half of a day and causing some public spaces to be closed off.

A sign indicating that the Matsushima red light district will be closed for G20.
No news from four of the other red light districts around Osaka.

People on social media made jokes about the red light districts being closed off "private parties" with visiting diplomats, but social media statements from business organizers and city use confusing veiled language to say that the facilities are being closed to prevent "disruption" or "confusion." Not sure what this is supposed to mean; the city hiding an embarrassment? Or maybe the jokers on social media were on to something with the private party theory?

Osaka has made some attempts to make the most of the event and the exposure by touting the appeals of the city, including a promotional music video featuring Osaka obachan showing off Osaka:

The above article is from the Mainich Shimbun Newspaper last month related to Trump's state visit to Japan after the new emperor ascended to the throne, starting the Reiwa period. At that time Trump and Abe were planning to visit the Kaga, a huge destroyer/helicopter carrier that could potentially be converted into an aircraft carrier (which has been making China nervous).
This same ship has been sighted in Osaka in the lead up to a Trump/Abe/Xi meeting.
The Kaga has been seen on this blog before, at the same port where it will be docking during the summit.

The video footage above was taken on Sunday June 23rd by Ruptly, a YouTube channel that specializes in "boots on the ground" footage of major events, mostly political protests.
In the video you can see a group of protesters (who seem to be relatively local Japanese people).
Judging from the background, the group in the footage starts on Midosuji street near Namba Shrine as they move to the south. The video ends in a small, unrecognized park.
The group of protesters seem to represent a variety of different interests which are often seen in their own small, special interest protest marches.
These include:

  1. General peace protesters (who tend to be the most optimistic), 
  2. Anti-nuclear protesters (a group of veteran protesters who are quite orderly), 
  3. People who oppose US military bases on Japanese soil; particularly in Okinawa (these people seem to tend toward right-wing nationalistic militarism).
  4. Anarchist protesters; these people seem to be opposed to the concept G20, or any such plutocratic organizations.
  5. Union activists; these people protest general oppression and police-state politics.
  6. Some anti-Abe political party with a "G20 NO WELCOME..." banner which also reads "Don't join the G20. Sayonara [goodbye] Abe, sayonara Trump"
  7. Anti-G20 protestors (this is the group where you would expect to see more international protestors/ globehopping trouble makers. But the video showed Japanese people, with only 1 or 2 white people)
  8. Some less organized individuals venting their contempt of world leaders with homemade, cardboard signs.
  9. The accordion player seems to be the same person from the weekly Korean school protesters who gather in front of the Osaka Prefecture Office on Tuesdays. ???

This tweet shows that the train stations bathrooms in far-off Tokyo are being inconvenienced by garbage bin security.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5aeU5hk31cLzq_sAExLVWg
  2. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/16/national/osakas-tobita-shinchi-red-light-district-closed-g20-summit-avoid-causing-disruption/?hootPostID=2fe602f8f235937bab5c6f4c6455acee#.XN0DC9Mzai4
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G20
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_G20_Buenos_Aires_summit
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_G20_Hamburg_summit
  6. https://kansaiculture.blogspot.com/2018/05/kaga-helicopter-carrier-at-temposan.html

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Kita Tsuru Fureai Park Murals


Kita Tsuru Community Park is a small community park that is south of Tsuruhashi station.
It is occupies a little plot of land next to a vacant lot and the JR Loop Line railroad tracks.

There is a cinderblock barrier between the park and the JR property underneath the elevated railroad line. This wall has some murals that seem to have been done by local residents; similar to something that you would see at an elementary school playground. The is are no signatures on the art to indicate who painted or sponsored the murals.

The park has several pieces of playground equipment with a number of shade trees scattered about, but the grass is often overgrown there. The park has an area of 2500 square meters.

The mascot for Ikuno ward, Ikumin.
Ikumin is a hydrangea fairy who was "born" in 2004.
You can apply to rent the Ikumin costume from the Ikuno Ward Office through their website.

A nearby vacant lot has flowers growing through the chain link fence.

A city scene

An angel with some sticker grafitti.

A surreal castle scene.

The entrance to the park.

Angel murals.
You can see some apartments in the bakground behind the wall; there seem to be some missing cinder blocks.

The as seen from the street. It can easily be overlooked.

Ikumin in various situations.

A scene with some fantastical Japanese characters.

Some UFOs in space.

A colorful space scene. Interesting use of reflected perspective.

Something surreal; like an elementary version of a Dahli painting, with some cute animal characters painted in a different style.

Friday, June 21, 2019

WWII Tunnel Under a River in Osaka


Ajigawa River Tunnel

The Ajigawa Tunnel was tunnel built under the Aji River in Osaka in 1944. It was a opened on September 15th 1944, but the planning for the tunnel actually began back in 1935.
When the tunnel opened, there was also a second tunnel for vehicles, in addition to the pedestrian tunnel. However, the larger tunnel closed in 1977.

There were several bridges in the area that were swept away by the great flood of 1885 (such as the "magnet bridge." Because of the large amount of ferry traffic it was difficult for a large enough iron bridge to be built over the river without interfering with traffic, which is when draw bridges and rotating bridges (like the "magnet bridge") had been employed.

The tunnel is only about 49m long but the tunnel is set about 17m underground, so there are quite a few steps to climb if you do not take the elevator.

Being hidden beneath a river, the crossing had the advantage of being spared from destruction during the WWII air raids on Osaka in 1944. The tunnel is accessed by small buildings on the riverside which contain elevator shaft equipment, ventilation, a stairwell and a toilet (toilet is on the south side only).

You can access the tunnel by stairs or you can take a large elevator, which is capable of carrying several people with their bicycles.

The tunnel and elevators are free to use and they are located just south of JR Nishi Kujo station.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Akashi; Toki no Week

明石城 時のウイーク

Akashi Castle; Toki no Week

The Toki no Week (Time Week) is a week of events that celebrate the city of Akashi (and specifically, the Akashi Planetarium) as the marker of the Japan time zone. This is effectively the summer festival for Akashi Castle (which also has a Castle Festival in October). During this time there are food stalls, family attractions, tourism promotions and appearances by a local mascot, Toki no Warashi.

The most popular event of the festival is a demonstration of samurai-era guns by people in samurai costumes in front of the castle.

During the festival, the castle towers are open for free to visitors.

The castle was in use from 1619-1875

Photo journal from 6/16/2019:

The southern face of the castle wall is quite long, 380m. The two remaining towers stand on a south-western section.
The towers are considered important cultural properties.

The Hitsujisaru Tower has a winding walkway to delay invaders.
High contrast Black and White shot.

The stonework foundation of the castle tower looks good with a pop filter.

A spacious green area, if you climb to the top of the castle ruins.

You can see the lines of tents; they are used by food stalls, tourism bureaus, vendors, etc.
In the background you can see JR Akashi station, just beyond the moat of the castle.

A raised observation deck so that visitors can look out over the walls of the castle.
From here you can see the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in the distance beyond the Tatsumi Yagura (Tatsumi Tower of the castle).

A cardboard box maze for kids; keeping with the theme of the festival it is called the "Time Maze" (Toki no meiru).
You can also see a small rock climbing wall in the background.

A look at how the structure of the walls were designed; note the wood beans with cut joinery that is held in place with small wooden wedges.

A look at the foundations, tiles and holes in the wall; rectangular openings were used by archers and the round openings were designed for gunners.

The wood construction inside of the castle towers.

A palanquin, used to carry VIPs. This palanquin has the crest of the Tokugawa clan on the top.
This type of conveyance is what we think of being used by government officials representing the Tokugawa shogunate in the Edo period. 

Information about the castle towers and the alignment with compass directions.

This sign has information about the long stone wall. Including information about some of the mason's marks in the stone which indicate who contributed the stone to the construction process.
These types of marks are typical to castles and feudal era construction projects, so they are something to look for when visiting Japanese castles.

The references to Akashi Castle history often bring up Miyamoto Musashi, the famous swordsman from the end of the Sengoku period to the early Edo period. He served at Akashi Castle and the castle park now tries to recreate his garden in one part of the park.
Miyamoto was brought in to help supervise the design and construction of the castle by Ogasawara Tadazane as the castle of the Akashi domain; the Akashi domain was established when the Himeji domain was split in two.
In 1615, one of the Edo-era mandates was that each domain only have one castle. Being allowed a castle, the Akashi domain quickly built their castle with some material that was salvaged from dismantled castles coming out of domains that were overpopulated with war-era castles.

An old map of land property plots inside of the old castle. You can see how densely populated the castle must have been at this time.
There are about 206 lots marked out inside the moats.

Some bolts and metal bands helping to support the woodwork; these seem to be recent additions.
The castle towers underwent a repair project in 1982.

A small diorama showing Akashi Castle as it once appeared;
shot with a maco +4 lens, which gives a nice illusion of depth and scale.

A model of Hikone Castle with the mascot, Hikonyan.

A large model of Akashi Castle at the height of power. You can see the number of small houses that were built inside of the moat.

The mascot of Akashi; Toki no Warashi. "The fairy of time."
Warashi wears a red coat with a white dragonfly on the back.
Warashi is said to be a time fairy who lives in an old watch and keeps the time of Akashi; he travels between the past and present times of Akashi (and future Akashi?).

A large sundial in front of Akashi Castle; another local monument that matches the theme of "time."
The [jumonji] spear and helmet look like something that would have been used by Sanada Yukimura.

Some shots of the rose garden.
Using a yellow filter here.

The rose garden; you can see some pink and white flowers in the background.


  1. http://www.akashi-tokikando.com/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashi,_Hy%C5%8Dgo
  3. http://www.yurugp.jp/vote/detail.php?id=00000628
  4. https://rongkk.com/life-zakki-akashi-yuru-character/
  5. https://kansaiculture.blogspot.com/2019/06/akashi-gunners.html
  6. https://hyogo-akashipark.jp/en/castle/
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashi_Castle
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashi_Domain