Posts Tagged 'journalling'

Walk along Lake Biwa canal

My little web space has officially turned into a flower photography blog !

It’s probably due to the fact that a lot of my downtime lately has been devoted to go and smell the roses flowers, quite literally ! The cherry blossoms season is now mostly over, but I can happily say that I really enjoyed it this year. These wanderings also gave me a chance to discover a few places in Kyoto I had never walked, which is always nice.

After a few busy weeks at work, I needed to breeze some fresh air and decided to walk along the Lake Biwa canal. This aqueduct was built at the end of the 19th century, between Lake Biwa – the largest lake in Japan- and the city of Kyoto, to transport water, merchandises and people as well as to generate electricity.

Late March through mid-April, the cherry trees that border this canal are all in different states of blossom, which really makes for a dreamy walk. The day I went, the  weather was cloudy and the sky turned grayer and grayer as I was progressing, still it was so beautiful ! (And it only started to rain once I decided to put my camera back in my bag, which was just perfect !)


In March, I…

What a month it was.

It felt and still feels like it was a time out of time. Does it make sense ?

It went by so fast, and at the same time it felt like slow motion.

I don’t remember the beginning of the month, but have very clear memories from the 11th. I had just entered our apartment, went to wash my hands and started to feel dizzy. I went to drink a glass of water and still felt dizzy. Then I looked up and saw the ceiling lamp swaying gently. After a quick check, every single hanging thing was swaying. It was so very strange. I sat down and thought for a minute that it was over, but as I checked the ceiling, the lamp was still moving. More than 2 minutes had passed.

I used to live in a region with very frequent earthquakes. A few a week. Then we moved to Kyoto where I only felt 3 of them in 2 years. Usually, your common earthquake starts strong, lasts for 20, 30 seconds, sometimes just a bit more, and then stops. This one was so incredibly long. It felt more like an underground wave than an earthquake.

When it finally stopped, I knew something big must have happened because such a slow shaking over a few minutes couldn’t be a good sign. I switched the TV on to discover that every single channel was in alert mode, the tsunami alert having already been issued and the whole coastline being at risk. I stayed like that, a bit awestuck until the evening, as I watched the tragedy unfold in front of my eyes in the safety of my living room. Mails were sent, lots of them. Then mails started to come, the phone started to ring.

G. got back home in the evening, having felt the quake, but without knowing exactly what had happened. And we stayed there, stuck to the TV, for 2 days straight, trying to process the images on the screen.

That was the beginning of March in my memory.

So, a whole lot happened in March, among which

  • Friends came to live with us for a while
  • Family came to live with us for a while
  • I cooked and cooked, and cooked some more
  • I cried a lot at other people’s loss and misfortune
  • I got angry a lot at how the crisis was sometimes handled
  • I cried some more
  • I prayed a lot, asked dear friends and family to send good thoughts for the people in Tohoku
  • I was amazed and comforted by people’s good heart
  • I prepared an emergency bag. The one we have been talking about for years, and never quite got around packing.
  • I listened to a lot of French pop.
  • I caught a nasty cold just after our friends left.

But most of all, I think March got me grateful. Grateful for friends and family, for a roof above my head, a warm bed at night, a job, and drinkable tap water. Grateful also for the amazing amount of love we’ve felt. And curiously maybe, March also got me hopeful. The immediate response from people all over the world, the burst of kindness and generosity, all these reminded me of the sheer amount of good there is in the world.

We’ve just started to settle back in a more “normal” daily life. April is here, marking the beginning of the fiscal and school year. Cherry trees are in bloom. My heart is quite full and I feel…a bit restless. I suspect a lot of reorganizing and making is going to take place in April. For now, I just want to take my camera out and keep on recording this beautiful season.

(Edit: just as I was writing this post, the apartment started to shake. It turns out another big earthquake just hit Fukushima. All is fine here in Kyoto, but  my thoughts go to all the evacuees and the people in the northern regions.)

Earthquake : we’re fine

I’m watching at my tv screen in disbelief as the extent of the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami unfold.

A little bit before 3:00 this afternoon a major earthquake hit Japan. At a magnitude of 8.9, it is the strongest earthquake ever recorded here. Although it was felt the strongest in the northern part of the main island, we felt it in Kyoto too, more than 700km away.

The first impression is that it lasted so long. I first thought I was dizzy, but it turned out the ground was just still shaking. What a strange feeling. I’m used to the normal 15-20 seconds quakes, but this one, more than a minute long, literally left me a little bit off balance.

I grabbed my computer and called my mum in France because I knew she would hear about it as soon as she wakes up. While we were talking, e-mails started to accumulate in my box. Friends and family wanting to know if we were ok. I answered them as soon as I ended the call with my mum. So thankful to have people in my life who care enough to be worried. I sent my share of worried e-mails too, while watching on tv the first waves of tsunami sweep the shores . So thankful we don’t live near the sea or a river.

So tonight, images of devastation filling my eyes and weighting on my heart, I feel incredibly thankful for my friends and family who are safe and sound, for the ones who care for me. And my heart and thoughts go to all the people who won’t be able to go home tonight, for those whose home just vanished in the waters or collapsed after the quake, for those who worry about their loved ones, for those who are scared.

Would you please join me and send a few thoughts their way ?


First hint of Spring

Celebrating the season is part of the tradition in Japan, and yearly festivals scattered through the months remind us of the passing of time.

I love how the blossoming of seasonal trees and plants is cause for celebration. Camellia, plum trees, cherry trees, peonies, irises, hydrangea and lotuses are all favorites, but I’m particularly fond of plum blossoms. They look somehow quite similar to cherry blossoms but when you get to know them, are actually so different. Plum blossoms are pretty, cute and fun, while the beauty of cherry blossom is more subdued, more subtle, and has lot to do with how quick they are blown away by the spring wind. I find plum blossoms are more friendly…if it makes sense !

This year, I really wanted to go plum-watching, but was not really in the mood for the hassle of a crowded shrine or temple. After a bit of research, G. and I discovered that the park of the Imperial Palace has a plum garden. We had high hopes for a quiet atmosphere since the park is so big and major plum sites are scattered elsewhere around the city. It turned out even better!

Some people were walking around, enjoying the view, but not enough to be referred to as a crowd, the weather was cold but perfect, many kinds of plum trees were blossoming gently, each displaying its own shape and colors, and its own smell. As we were walking towards the plum garden, the air around us became sweeter, kind of Spring-like, with a hint of fresh leaves thrown in the mix. It is so difficult to describe a smell, but we had an amazing time enjoying the sweet perfume of the plum trees !

Spring was definitely in the air !

The love of colors – 27.05.2009


Beautiful details.

Beautiful soft colors.

(happy sigh)


A photo a day – 13.05.2009


After a night of coughing – hence no sleep –

I spent the day just a bit disconnected from reality.

I was there and not quite there at the same time. I’m not sure It makes much sense, but today was that kind of blurry day.

Some thoughts coming about creativity…

A photo a day – 12.05.2009


17h40, still a bit of light. 

Seasons are indeed changing, revolving.

I didn’t have real time to wander around and take pictures today,

so I went to the balcony when I got home, determined to find something to capture. Anything. I almost took the old green.yellow flipflops abandonned there, but reevaluated and gave a shot to the nearby cityscape. I love taking pictures of electric poles. Something about the horizontal and vertical lines, than I don’t seem to get enough of. Strange.

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