Water in a 'howling wilderness'

| Apr 2, 2008

Water in a 'howling wilderness'

John Oxley (c. 1785-1828) was among the first Europeans to ever explore this flat, brown and red land, after he was appointed surveyor-general of the British colony of New South Wales in 1817. Back then, the Royal Navy officer called it “a howling wilderness ...

In praise of the 'mountain whale'

| Mar 5, 2008

In praise of the 'mountain whale'

Not long after I arrived in Tokyo for the first time in October 1962, Klaus Naumann — a childhood friend from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in the rural southwest of England, who had come to Japan ahead of me (and is still here) — took me ...

Killing calves makes Japan's whaling indefensible

Feb 9, 2008

Killing calves makes Japan's whaling indefensible

KUROHIME, Nagano Pref. — When I turned on my TV to both BBC World and CNN this morning, I was shocked and saddened by the sight of a minke whale and calf being winched up the ramp of a Japanese factory ship in the ...

Talking sense about deer

| Feb 6, 2008

Talking sense about deer

We were filming a television documentary in the mountains of Hokkaido. It was winter, and bitterly cold. Through the trees, bare of leaves, we could see floe ice, dotted with eagles, gulls, crows and a few ravens. Then a raucous gathering of crows ahead ...

Pride towers amid ongoing woes

| Nov 7, 2007

Pride towers amid ongoing woes

In 1669, the Ainu leader Shakushain, who rose up and united the Ainu in rebellion against Japanese invaders, was called on to observe a truce, and invited to a banquet in his honor. The Matsumae clan, who had established a foothold on the island ...

'Stoopid ninja' keeps on learning

| Oct 3, 2007

'Stoopid ninja' keeps on learning

T he first time I ever heard cicadas was in 1963, during my very first summer in Japan. I was wandering through a small mixed woodland where some small boys were flitting from tree to tree, playing ninja. I, as a strange young foreigner ...

High times away from summer's heat

| Sep 5, 2007

High times away from summer's heat

Early in August, when Japan’s big cities were really beginning to cook and parasols were in full bloom in the sultry streets, we again invited a group of children to escape the stifling lowland heat and come up to our woods for a few ...

A tale of morels

| Aug 1, 2007

A tale of morels

I have a Canadian friend, Nedd Kenney, a brilliant scholar, musician and fieldworker who now lives on Baffin Island off the northeast coast of Canada. It was Nedd who got me my first bhodran (Irish drum), and came to my house in Kurohime, in ...

A very special friend

| Jul 4, 2007

A very special friend

Last year, on June 10, my dear friend Eiji Nakahara died. He was 65. Many readers will remember Eiji, owner and gifted chef of the Tatsunoko pension here in Kurohime. Especially during those heady “bubble” years of the mid 1980s, and through to the ...