I'm a New Convert

To the Church of Micro 4/3 - Olympus sect!

Olympus OM-D EM-5 with Panny LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4

I have used my beloved Nikon D200 for over 3 years and we had a really good time together. I always made offerings to the Church of Nikon F-mount but lately I've been brainwashed by compact system missionaries - Micro four thirds.

Nikon D200 with Sigma 15mm EX DG Fisheye

There are pros and cons of both DSLR and μ4/3 systems. 
What I really appreciate in the μ4/3 system is relatively cheaper offerings of the lenses. However, the quality of the lenses is outstanding. Sure, it's very light weight and no mirror shock occurs while shooting.

Now I have "faith" in Olympus OM-D EM-5! This classic film camera-looking silver gadget comes with build-in image stabilization, weather-sealed body, tilting monitor, and 12 art filters.

Note that my first steps into the mirrorless denomination were made with Sigma DP1s two-odd years ago. Now my conversion has been completed!

My beloved wife understands and supports my new religious choice fully. I am a very lucky man. Thank you Mrs T for making this conversion possible! Now you are a Nikon believer (please take good care of the D200), but I am confident that soon you will also see the light, even if yours might turn out to be a Panasonic sect.

F-Mount God bless her.

Mrs T at Hoshinomiya Shrine

This is a Macro Monday entry.


Underground Temple

We joined a tour organized by Edogawa River Office (江戸川河川事務所) whose mission is to prevent disastrous flooding  in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area.

The northeastern part of Tokyo cosmopolis is notorious for inundation caused by several rivers running very slowly in a relatively flat area with almost no gradient. It used to be a swamp in the past.
The idea of preventing from inundation is, during a typhoon attack or in rainy season, to drain the overwhelming water from several rivers by pooling the excess amount of water in the underground surge tank (首都圏外郭放水路) temporarily and spit it out to the bigger river (Edo river).

Here is the official video in Japanese.

The big surge tank is called "Underground temple" in its outlook. When we were in the tank, there was a movie filming going on.

The beauty of the tour is it's free of charge and you get a postcard when departing.

Interested in the tour?

Then, click [ENGLISH: Summary of the tour].

720 kamikanasaki, Kasukabe, Saitama, 322-0111

Have a wonderful weekend.



Tennosai in Utsunomiya

It's summer time, which is when festivals happen in many places all over Japan.

We went to Tennosai festival (天王祭) last night. Only to the best highlight part at night, though. It was cloudy and extremely humid. We thought it's a matter of time before it would start raining... Because Ms. T was with me (it ALWAYS rains when she's out and about), but hey, it didn't!

Please expect that she will upload video in the near future.

Every year at Tennosai festival, the districts that have their own mikoshi (portable shrine) compete who can climb up the backbreaking 96 steps of Futaarayama shrine with the mikoshi the fastest! The winning time this year was 18 seconds.

These two are the mikoshi photos from Bamba district. It has a big drum on it and two young drummers kept beating while being carried to the top of the shrine. Over 70 guys contributed to the pushing of the biggest mikoshi to the finish line.

Actually, Bamba has another tiny mikoshi (No drum on it) carried by little boys and girls.


Cherry Trees And Giraffes

Today was probably the last chance for us to photograph cherry blossoms in our town, Utsunomiya. So we headed to the Oya district and Utsunomiya zoo (宇都宮動物園). Utsunomiya zoo is one of my favorite places to photograph cherry trees. It's plain gorgeous to see blossoms from the ferris wheel!

After approximately 5 minutes of the ferris wheel trip, I spent quite a long time taking photos of giraffes.


Tohaimon Gate

I realized that I've been posting entries related to Buddhist ceremonies. Now it's time to post something about Shinto.

By Chuzenji lake (中禅寺湖) in Nikko city, there is Futaarasan Chugushi shrine (二荒山中宮祠).

View Larger Map

Futaarasan Chugushi is a beautiful shrine enshrining three deities, Okuninushi (大国主)/Onamuchi (大己貴命), Tagorihime (田心姫命), and Ajisukutakahikone (味耜高彦根命). It also acts as a entrance gate for the trail to climb Mt. Nantai. The entrance is called Tohaimon Gate (登拝門).

We once challenged Mt. Naitai (男体山) and climbed it in summer. At NIGHT. We posted the entry here to share with you the experience we had during the challenge! We are supposed to try this summer once again!


Kaizan e

We went to Nikko city today just to see the nice views that the World heritage site has to offer.

It was snowing!!!

Cherry blossoms are far behind in Nikko... It will take about two more weeks until the Shrines and Temples are decorated with pink petals...

April 1st is the anniversary of Monk Sho-do (勝道上人)'s death. He was the pioneer who initially started developing Nikko into a religious center. The ceremony took place at Kaizando Hall (開山堂). Since he was a Buddhist monk and Kaizando Hall belongs to Rinnoji temple (輪王寺), the ceremony called Kaizan e (開山会) is organized by monks from Rinnoji.

Lotus sudra (法華経) chanted by 80 monks was the prayer to mark this occasion.


Time To Say Goodbye To Dolls

Since 1998, Tagesan Fudoson (多気不動尊)/Tagesan Jihouin Fudoson (多気山持宝院不動尊) of Shingon school (真言宗) Buddhist temple has been holding a ritual ceremony around mid February for old dolls that the owners decided not to keep at home anymore. It is an annual ceremony during which the temple treats the dolls as human beings when dead - by cremating them.

This was my first time to photograph this event, my positioning was bad and the best shooting position was completely taken by a bunch of old dudes with fancy DSLRs with expensive lenses.

The ceremony started off with the Buddhist monks chanting. Then gasoline was used to start a fire. It took less than 10 minutes of that for more than 100 fancy dolls to turn in ashes...
By the way, the most exciting event organized by the temple is a fire walking ceremony every May. We are planning to attend it this year. Photos of last year's ceremony are below. Click photos to enlarge.

This is Our World Tuesday Week 26 entry.


Two Baldies

From the archive, the photo was taken in Nikko city.

Have a wonderful weekend.


A Snail?

When I was rambling through the Utsunomiya downtown, one anonymous building caught my eyes. My first thought was that this metallic snail-looking thingy was a ladder. But I was wrong!

When I got closer to it, "organic" smell got stronger (Thank God that it was winter). This metal object adjacent to the building turned out to be a long and spiral slide to the trash bin! How intelligent, or let's say, lazy the designer of this building was!

This is a Outdoor Wednesday #160 and Sky Watch Friday entry.



Jizo Statue

A jizo (地蔵菩薩) statue photographed at the cemetery of Jikoji temple (慈光寺) of the Jodo school of Buddhism (浄土宗) in Utsunomiya city. It was heartbreaking to see that many statues, especially the old ones, were either cracked or crushed there and they still remained as they are up until now...

The statue in this photo is taller than me and obviously one of several that survived the March 11th earthquake!


This is a Outdoor Wednesday #159 and Sky Watch Friday entry.


My New Companion

LED backlight keyboard under the dark

During the editing of the photo for the previous entry on New Year's Day (3 AM), my computer was terminated... When the computer was restarted, the poor guy could not recognize the hard drive. I tried so hard to fix it, however, nothing really worked.

After driving Ms. T to the bus stop, I had my computer with me and took it to the computer doctor. Since I did not foresee any hope, Ms. T placed an order for me for a new computer, Apple MacBook Pro (13 inch). Until the new computer arrived, I had had to use a very old laptop I bought a decade ago. It still works fine but due to the old version of OS10, all I could do was just to browse web sites. But hey, it's still better than nothing since we don't have a TV at home! I could, at least, follow what was happening in the world:)

For these who left a comment, I sincerely apologize for my absence.


Happy New Year!

We went to Rinnohji temple (輪王寺) in Nikko city (日光市)...

Happy New Year!!!