The Cape Toi Fire Festival

“I don’t see anything.” “Just wait for the next wave. Ok, now go! Move your hand around!” A tiny spec of blue suddenly appeared under the water. “Woah! I see one! There’s another one!” Mermaid fireflies, dancing around our hands and legs. “Holey shit, that’s cool!” It had been a really long day, but I immediately forgot I was tired….

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The Garden of Love

In Shintomi Town, on the road from Takanabe to Saito, is a garden carpeted in bright, pink flowers. During spring, when the shibazakura (moss phlox) is in full bloom, the private residence attracts up to 3,000 visitors a day. People come to admire the beautiful flowers, of course, but the garden is attractive for another reason; the story of how…

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A Horse-Blessed Harvest

Here in the inaka, rice fields are woven into the scenery like squares on a patchwork quilt. The need for a calendar is obviated by their narrative of the seasons; glassy strips in early spring, neon sprouts in summer and golden ears by the end of autumn. Kyushu is where paddy cultivation is believed to have begun in Japan some 3,000 years ago. Since…

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Ookawara Gorge and the Firefly Festival

If ajisai is the quintessential flower of tsuyu season, the firefly must be it’s insect. Called hotaru in Japanese, these lightning bugs swarm around streams and rivers in the countryside from late May to June and can be viewed in some places up until August. In Kobayashi, Idenoyama Park hosts a firefly festival every year, and after talking about going for almost a month,…

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Ajisai and the Plum Rains

Due to the stubborn Mei-yu front, most of East Asia experiences a two-month rainy season. During June and July, the weeks become an endless parade of cloudy days, accompanied by debilitating humidity and, if you’re not careful, drawers full of mould. In Japan, this period is known as tsuyu or baiu [梅雨], which literally translates to ‘plum rains’; the season is supposedly named for coinciding…

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Himuka Music Camp Festival

Up until Saturday, my music festival experience consisted of five dusty days at Woodstock 9 in the highway town of Harrismith, Free State. So when Mark invited me to celebrate his birthday with a couple of friends at a two-day gig in Hyuga, I was game. But first I had to go to work. It was PTA Day at school and while the other teachers…

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