Berg Lake Pics on Instagram!

Pics now on Instagram!

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Someone has created an app to allow uploads to Instagram from Lightoom! Thanks, someone! I've inaugurated my Instagram account with an ongoing selection of the very best pictures from my recent backpacking trip on the Berg Lake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Drop on by for a gander @ https://www.instagram.com/tokyoaaron/?hl=en

Spain Photos, Summer 2004-2005

Mallorca - Barcelona - Pontevedra - Santiago de Compostela

 

The summer of 2004, I made a momentous decision to turn my "three-year overseas adventure" in Japan (which had gone on for, like, six years already) into something more permanent. Amongst other things, I wanted to formalize my transition from conversational ESL teacher status to English Language Arts teacher at the international school where I worked in suburban Tokyo.

After a bit of research, I enrolled in a post-graduate international school teacher education program run by an American college at their summer campus on... Mallorca, Spain.

For the next two summers i left the tropical heat of Tokyo for the desert heat of Spain and studied teacher education on a resort island in the Mediterranean. How much actual study did I get done? A surprising amount, all things considered, with the temptations of Ibiza and Barcelona just a short ferry or flight away. Instead, I spent the weekends exploring Mallorca's rustic interior, where Miro was inspired to paint his abstract landscapes in Mediterranean reds, blacks, blues, greens, and yellows.

After each semester, I traveled solo or with my girlfriend around northern Iberia, from Gaudi's Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia to small-town Galicia, through rustic Portugal and into genteelly decaying Lisbon.

These are pictures from those trips. Check out 

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Shinjuku: Tokyo High City and Low

A visitor’s guide to Shinjuku’s Neighbourhoods

 

“There’s an anything goes feeling to the place.”

From time to time, the question arises on travel discussion forums: which is the best neighbourhood in Tokyo? Never mind the vagueness of the question. If I had, say, 36 hours in Tokyo, I’d head to Shinjuku, a city-within-a-city. There’s no better place to get a feeling of 36 million people living together Blade Runner-style than in this west-end microcosm of The Big Sushi.

It’s where I first landed in Japan 18 years ago. Then, I spun a jet-lagged fugue through Shinjuku’s neon canyonlands, elevated footpaths, tatamisidestreets and alleys, and in the labyrinthian train station. You know: the setting for Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Bill Murray? That was me, minus the hair — and Scarlett Johansson.

Now, Shinjuku still pulls me into its orbit whenever I want some “bright lights, big city” excitement in my suburban commuter life. Familiar landmarks — the massive, six-storey Kinokuniya bookstore on the Southern Terrace, Shinjuku Gyoen park and garden, the warren of dive bars in Golden Gai — calm my nerves, and help re-center my wanderlost spirit.

After almost two decades of exploring this multi-nodal city, Shinjuku is still the single neighbourhood which best embodies Tokyo high city and low.

For the same reason, Shinjuku ranks first in places I recommend for first-time visits to The Big Sushi.

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3.11: Did the Earth Just Move?

A first-hand account from Tokyo of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis triple-header, which struck Japan March 11th, 2011.

Bright Tokyo sunlight spills like holiday wine into the classroom. The fine weather makes it even harder for the students to stay in their chairs on this Friday afternoon before spring break. Never mind other distractions, like the roar of an airplane close overhead or the rumbling of earth moving equipment as it passes close by the school.

The students try their best. 16 heads bend over laptops, gamely putting final touches on term papers. Finish this, they know, and it’s smooth sailing into two weeks of vacation.

But that earth moving equipment just keeps getting closer and louder, coming down the road, then for some reason pulling into the parking lot at the front entrance of the school. Then, bizarrely, it moves into the school itself, comes down the hallway, through the closed door, the noise and vibration impossible to ignore as it comes right inside the classroom with us and I think we all realize at the same time this is no earth moving equipment at all but a temblor, an earthquake. A big one.

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