day 128: subtle effects of japan

While my flight from Tokyo via the Philippines to Bali takes off, I am sitting with relish in a kabuki performance – traditional Japanese theater – in the National Theatre Tokyo. Probably I´m dozing, the performance takes 4 ½ hours. The next day I’m at the airport and surprised: The flight was yesterday. Good, new […]

day 127: a million lights

Tokyo from above is a must-see. From every side of the Tokyo Skytree, where you can look at the city from above, you see an endless ocean of lights.

day 126: tokyo metro

I had to go to the embassy. I wanted to take the metro at 8 a.m. to get there early to get “business” done in time. This was a bad idea. Did you ever pack your suitcase, that is too small for all the stuff you want to take along. And you squeeze everything in […]

day 125: power of life

BEFORE I was in Nagasaki. It was the place i liked the most in Japan. It must be because it´s more south, so it seems more relaxed. And also due to it´s past it´s more open and diverse. There have been portuguese, dutch and chinese communities here since a long time. I could´t help but […]

day 123: holy hair

Sumo wrestling is popular in Japan. I tried to get tickets but everything is sold well in advance. The only glance on sumo I got from a flyer for a photo exhibition. It states: The hairs of Sumo wrestlers are holy are not to be touched by anyone. I will keep it in mind if […]

day 118: i wish…

Next to temples in Japan people put their wishes on little wooden plates. I always tried to find out, what was writen on them, but never found anybody who could both sufficiently read japanese and speak good english. So anybody out there with those capabilities, please let me know what those people were wishing for.

day 117: henro good bye

I forgot to mention: My japanese pilgrimage, the henro, around the island of Shikoku has finished after a little bit more of three weeks. It was beautiful and challenging, especially for my feet and my mind. 9 hours walking every day can be hard. But I loved it and can only recommend it to anyone.

day 116: train scribbling again

I don´t like riding the train. I love ferries because I love the ocean. I like airplanes, because you get a huge entertainment selection of movies and food. But sitting in the train is boring. So most of the time I start scribbling something. Here are the newest designs from a 7 hour train ride from […]

day 115: artsy island

Thank you Naoshima, it was a short but inspiring trip. Naoshima is an island between Shikoku and the mainland. By e-bike you can easily surround it in less than an hour. In the 1990s the Benesse Corporation started an art project there. They built the Benesse House Museum with a small but excellent collection of […]

day 113: surreal

I´ve stumbled into the most unconventional hotel I´ve ever been to. On the southern tip of Shikoku, where there is mostly coast and forest and old people, suddenly “Kaiyu” appears. “Kaiyu” is ugly from the outside. It is a 50s (or 60s or 70s) concrete building, like the hotels they plastered along the Spanish mediterranean […]

day 112: pilgrims´ small talk

Most people walking the henro are men. Most of them are middle aged or older. Since many japanese don´t get more than two weeks vacation each year, there is little time to walk the henro. If you´re young, you might rather spend a fun time with your friends than having to complain about what is […]

day 111: “unofficial” temple

There is the official temples, you walk to on the henro – and there are the unofficial ones. The ones where you find some coffee (hallelujah), where you find bread, go to the toilet and enjoy the air condition. It´s the “combini stores” (Convenient stores), like Lawson or 7-11, you find on the way. I […]

day 109: kobo daishi

Everywhere you walk you will meet statues of all sizes of Kobo Daishi, the man, who first walked the henro a long time ago. I see his statues a few times every day, so he deserves a little painting from me. This must be him in his young years.

day 108: walking buddies

I´m happy to have met again wonderful walking buddies. They make the way so much easier and more fun. The dinner at night tastes better with them. This time I´m walking with Miguel from Spain and Toni from Great Britain. If we don´t look our best, this might be due to the fact that it […]

day 107: perfect trees

I´ve already mentioned the perfection of cutting trees in Japan. This is another example and I have to admit, this one is very pretty. Seen at one of the temples on the way.

day 106: walking with jess

Walking 9 hours (including some breaks of course) can be hard. So it´s beautiful to find nice walking companions on the way. I met Jess, a passionate walker from Great Britain. Last year she walked from London to Rome in 100 days. Now she´s walking around Shikoku. Here´s her blog Walking with Jess.

day 105: cold bath

When the ocean is far, there are still the beautiful rivers in Shikoku. Sometimes I take the time to rest and take a cold bath in one of the rivers. That for sure gives you back energy to keep on walking!

day 103: typical

Two things that are very typical for Japan. No.1 is the Vending machine. All over the country every few meters it seems there is a vending machine. On empty country roads, in tiny villages, at temples or in the city. Nowhere will you die of thirst in Japan. No. 2 the whale. Especially here at […]

day 100: early rise

When you walk it´s best to get up early. Have breakfast around 6:30 and start walking at 7. The first two hours walking until 9 o´clock are the most beautiful ones. The air is still fresh, the sun shines a warm light on everything and sometimes I´m rewarded with beautiful moments, like the one where I […]

day 99: temple etiquette

When you reach one of the 88 temples on the henro, there is a certain etiquette: First wash your hands/mouth with the water from the little fountain, that is at the entrance of every temple. Then ring the big bell to announce that you´re here. That´s my favorite part. Then you can recite a lot of […]

day 98: finding the way

I´m still on the henro pilgrimage. Luckily there are signs to find your way around Shikoku island. Usually there are mountains surrounding you and cosmea (a kind of flower).

day 97: japanese beauty

This picture just shows japanese beauty. The caretakers of temple 22 on the henro, Byodoji, just put some leaves into the water, where you can wash your hands.

day 96: lost in contemplation

I wonder what it was like when Kobo Daishi was walking around here. The forest in Shikoku must have been thick and hard to get through. Did he know where he was going? Did he have a map? Did maps of this area exist in that time? That was around the year 800. Japan had […]

day 95: 88 temples

In a far away country on an island full with thick forest and a rugged coast, there is a path. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago a man walked on that path, finding his way through valleys, along river beds, into fisher villages, looking for truth. For enlightenment. Kobo Daishi went from temple to temple, just […]

day 93: dinner

It´s impossible to travel Japan and not write about food once in a while. This delicious dinner was given to me by Makto. He invites people to his house for a bit of money before they walk the „henro“, an old pilgrimage route around the island of Shikoku. I counted it: I had 15 different […]

day 92: make-up buddhas

Koya San lies up in the mountains of the Kii peninsula surrounded by thick cedar forests. The air is fresher than down in the valley and the cedars give the surrounding a smell of earth and nature. Up here live 4000 people, mostly monchs running different temples. Visitors can sleep there. So the places are […]

day 91: en-light-enment

I smiled when I saw this disco buddha. It contradicts what I have in mind about Buddha: stillness and silence. But hey, why not: This buddha is truly enlightened.

day 89: “kawaii” – part 1

Japanese understand to make everything „kawaii“ – cute. Everything is supposed to be cute. Trees and cars and clothing and faces and women. So I even find restriction signs can be very “kawaii”.

day 88: osaka

Osaka is a fun place. The city is not as huge as Tokyo but has a vivid touch to it. Here are the famous neon signs. Everybody who goes to Osaka takes a picture in front of those signs.

day 85: the art of zen

Zen temples have beautiful aesthetics. Every littler part of a house, the garden, the floor is made with great care. Mindfulness, being aware of the moment, is then essence of Zen. These pictures are taking in one of the many temples in Kyoto.

day 84: how to use a shower

In case you didn´t know how japanese showers work. You usually have a whole littler room for you, where you sit down on a little plastic stool with a mirror in front. There you can sit and splay around. One of the nicest shower rooms I´ve seen so far was this one with a beautiful floor […]

day 83: all you can drink

Not unusual in Japan: After work you go with your colleagues for some drinks. The easiest, or at least fastest way, get a 30-minutes all-you-can-drink deal for about 3,50 Euros.

day 81: Gang Nam Style

I was lucky to meet some people in Kyoto who took me to sing Karaoke – of course a real japanese experience. And I was even more lucky that a Korean joined our group. His name was J. He goes to sing Karaoke about once a week! And to top everything he sang „Gang Nam […]

day 78: respect

Bagi has worked 17 years as a Sushi chef in Denver, Colorado. Then he went back home to Shimoda, a little relaxed sea side town on the japanese Izu peninsula. In the summer months tourists and surfers from Tokyo come here. But Japan doesn´t have a big beach culture, so Shimoda keeps on being an […]

day 74: heiß gelaufene dampflok

Japan ist nicht einfach zu fassen. Und es ist schwer darüber zu schreiben ohne in Klischees zu rutschen. Für mich ist es eines der schwierigsten Länder, in denen ich bisher gereist bin. Für mich ist es einfacher mich im Chaos von Indien zurechtzufinden oder mit der gefährlichen Situation in Guatemela umzugehen, als auf dieses ruhige […]

day 73: patterns

I enjoy so much the beauty of Japanese drawing of kimonos. I find the real ones you see on the street alright. But the design and patterns you find on drawings are just exquisite.

day 72: best fortune

Some of the shrines in Japan can tell you the future. So does Senso-ji in Tokyo. They even thought of the tourists there and have prophecies in english. You just put 100 yen in a slot, pick a stick with a number on and take your fortune out of a drawer with the correct number. […]

day 71: loose tongue

Tokyo is (in)famous for its jazz and sake bars. Sake bars are supposed to be the few places where individualism gets its place in japanese culture. When people drink their sake they relax and their tongues loosen. That´s when personal talk can take place, when it´s ok to say that something is not going so […]

day 70: 60s movie

Ich sitze im Flugzeug von Seoul nach Tokyo. Neben mir ein Mann, den ich auf Mitte 50 und als Business-Mann einschätze. Macht Sinn, auf einem Flug wie Seoul-Tokyo erwartet man solche Leute und nicht Urlauber. Ich frage: „So where are you from?“ Ich bin fast ein bißchen nervös. Wann spreche ich schon jemals mit Business-Leuten? […]

day 69: walking mass

This is the famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. It´s supposed to be the busiest street crossing in the world. Sometimes there are 1000 persons crossing at the same time.

day 68: 2.400 tons

This is Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. 2.400 tones of fish circulate here every day. In times of news that a lot of fish are becoming rare due to overfishing, this is an horrendous number. The real action is taking place here at 6:00 a.m., when the tuna auction is going on. Bluefin tuna can […]