Yodobashi Camera at Last!
Ever since I first saw this place back last year in September (click here to see the shot)
. I've been wanting to visit it. Actually I was planning to go there with the Walkers when they came but I missed out due to us getting lost in our visit to Osaka and running out of time to go there. Since it is cheeper and quicker, and Kyoto is a somewhat more pleasant place, my normal place to go if I need anything that the Nagaokakyo camera stores don't stock is BIC Camera in Kyoto
. However, I've heard that Yodobashi is even bigger than the Shinsaibashi (Osaka) BIC Camera, so I have been meaning to check it out.
Well, after our usual monthly Saturday English classes to Employees of a company in Sone
(which is on the other side of Osaka than Nagaokakyo), we decided to stop in at Osaka on the way home. Yep the building is huge, but it's mostly full of clothing shops and restaurants! The camera section is probably double the size as the camera section in the Shinsaibashi BIC Camera, and four times bigger than in the Kyoto BIC camera. The best surprise was the amount of new medium format gear they had, actually if I had put together all of the medium format gear I have seen in shops in the rest of my life, it would only amount to about half of what they had in Yodobashi! They even had new RB67
s with any accessory I could imagine. If you're looking for Mamiya or Pentax medium format gear Yodobashi Camera is the place to find it, and they had plenty of stock of other brands too! Plus all the 35mm Film and Digital SLRs currently on the market (some stock of discontinued lines too!), and every Point and Shot digital camera too.
Thank you to Sam & Michael
It was on a Thursday afternoon while I was teaching my regular 4pm-5pm Kindergarten kids lesson at my house that the door bell rang. It was the postman, he had a package for me from a guy named Michael in Tochigi-ken. I wondered what could it be, the only people we know in Tochigi are a couple of Japanese ladies. I came back into the class and the 3 students all wanted to see what it was so I opened it. It was film, to my surprise all the students knew what it was too. I think few 5 year olds in Australia would know what film is these days. In Japan although they invent all the new technology, a lot of older people don't change, so film is still popular with older people, so everyone's grand parents are still shooting film (unless they are real photography maniacs, then they'll have a Canon 1Ds MkIII or Nikon D3X + 400 f/2.8 lens!). They even still sell music on cassette in Japan, but only oldies music like Enka or Classical (I like both those styles too, but whenever I bought it's been on CD).
Earlier on in the year I received an old medium format camera from a friend's uncle (a Mamiya RB67), but I was only able to shoot two rolls of film with it due to being on a tight budget. Medium format costs about 4x the amount per shot than 35mm (that's when I add the film + development + scanning costs together). When Sam C
heard that I hadn't been able to shoot with the RB67 for a few months, he kindly offered to help me out. Thinking that sending film all the way from the USA to Japan, might get x-rayed to death, he asked Michael in Tochigi for help to send some films to me. So now I've been able to shoot some more medium format. I want to send out a big thank you to Sam and Michael.
At the moment you can see some of my shots from the RB67 here
, but I'm planning something for my PBase site in the near future.
Osaka Seikei University
Well, after a few days of rain and humidity, there was a slight relief in the weather, so we (Ritsuko & I) decided to take a late afternoon walk. We were attempting to get to a big river, but found the quickest road there as it appears on Google Maps as now been closed, so we headed back (if I was alone I would have “bush bashed” my way through).
On the way back home we went via the footbridge over the railway near Osaka Seikei University (Nagaokakyo campus), which is on my normal jogging route, however Ritsuko had not been this way before, so we paused to take in the view (this photo). This particular campus is the school of Art and Design. The presence of this campus, according to many, helps create a vibrancy in the town that might otherwise be missing with out so many young and artistic types. The problem is that Japan's ageing population is causing numbers to decline at the university, so it will be closed down in a couple of years.
Well, for some that might be the end of it, let the university will be come another abandoned facility in Japan (a “Haikyo” location). However, for me I have a vision for something new. The university is right next to Megumi Kindergarten, and there is an unmet demand in Nagaokakyo for a Christian school, especially for Megumi graduates of which there are about 120 each year. Before we came to Japan we planned to one day to start a Christian School here, this was before we even knew of Megumi or Nagaokakyo. Now I feel here is a location, all we need is money and permit, Ritsuko is already a qualified Japanese Primary School Teacher (Bachelor of Education from Kagoshima University). With all the things God has done for us so far, nothing is impossible, if it's His will, then He'll make a way. We're already starting to get interest from parents and other qualified Christian teachers.
Well, Kyoto might claim the fame of being the capital city for the longest time and thus accumulated a vast array of historical sites from many different eras of Japanese history. Nara on the other hand, claim to fame is that it was the first permanent capital. Prior to Nara they moved the capital every time the Emperor died. Nara is about to celebrate it's 1300th birthday in 2010, so they are sprucing the place up a bit at the moment. The big difference between Nara and Kyoto is that Nara has not become a big modern city like Kyoto, so in Nara many of the sites are located in vast park.
Nara does have a small downtown area, but it's definitely not as up market as Kyoto. Although there are some expensive places to eat around the main transport hubs, it's quiet easy to find very cheep eateries without looking too hard. Also given the large amount of tourism and universities around the area, there is a great range of International food available.
Nara was our last excursion with the Walkers before they returned to Australia, it was just a quick half day trip as we had to get back to teach some students in the early evening. We saw Todai-ji (pictured, a Buddhist temple, and the worlds biggest wooden building), and the Five Storey Pagoda. While looking for a place to eat we found an Anglican church which looked like a temple with a cross on it. Finally we settled on having lunch at an Israeli (Kosher) restaurant (the first I've ever found in Japan).
The Walkers visit was great growing experience for all of us. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and they were a great encouragement to many here. We hope that they will be able to come back again in the near future.
As for Nara, I'm planning to go back there later in the year and visit some of the sites that are a bit further out of town. I've heard they are better, but less famous, so less crowded.
Back in Shiga (briefly)
You may have noticed a jump in a few days from the last entry. Well, after Himeji we had church on Sunday morning and Bob spoke. Then in the afternoon we introduced Bob to Onsen (Hot Spring Baths). During most of the week I was busy with kindergarten and my own business' English classes. The Walkers also got to help out in some of the classes. In order to give Ritsuko and I a break the Walkers looked after our house, while Ritsuko and I went to Shiga on the 3rd and 4th of July. The last time I visited Shiga was in 2007.
Shiga is the one place in Japan, especially on the west side of Lake Biwa, one can actually escape the crowds of Japan and get out in to nature. Unless you go there on public Holidays in the summer when half of Kyoto and Osaka think that going for a swim in Lake Biwa is the thing to do!
So Ritsuko and I stayed at a hot spring resort in Ogoto in Shiga. Although I'm a fan of hot springs, it wasn't so fun in the Summer as it is in Autumn, Winter, or Spring. The fresh air and open spaces however were a refreshing change.