Beware: Devil birds at work in the woods

| Dec 16, 2012

Beware: Devil birds at work in the woods

The final months of the year seem something of an afterthought following the delightful palette of autumn colors; they offer only fickle moods and fickle weather. On November or December days of crisp, cold sunshine, when distant views beckon and late-flying dragonflies and late-flowering ...

Lake Shikotsu: a Hokkaido wonderland awaits

Nov 4, 2012

Lake Shikotsu: a Hokkaido wonderland awaits

I have spent the last four hours perspiring under the summer sun, moving slowly and photographing wildflowers. Having hiked the circuitous, twin-peaked route around the caldera of constantly active 1,041-meter Mount Tarumae, I then loped up and down a small peak known only as ...

Singing the praises of greenery

| Oct 21, 2012

Singing the praises of greenery

This year’s annual hop between the hemispheres in my capacity as a globetrotting nature-tour guide took me to my namesake country, Brazil, with strange and unusual hopes. Following the almost unprecedented heat of this year’s August in Hokkaido, I wondered if, for once, September’s ...

Living the botanical high life

| Sep 16, 2012

Living the botanical high life

Japan, though it has a very different image, is on the same latitude as southern Europe and North Africa, while my nearest city, Sapporo, is oddly enough on the same east-west parallel as France’s boisterously cosmopolitan second city of Marseille on the Mediterranean. Tokyo, ...

Man on a mountain

Sep 2, 2012

Man on a mountain

In the very center of Hokkaido lies a landscape so far removed from the urban sprawl of much of lowland Japan that you might be forgiven for asking: “Is this really Japan?” Far more reminiscent of the higher latitudes of Kamchatka and Chukotka (northeastern ...

Slugs, snails and astonishing tales

| Jul 15, 2012

Slugs, snails and astonishing tales

Late last month, I arrived at my friends’ house in the historic southwest English town of Stroud a little too early, only to find both Ian and Caroline Redmond out. So, with time on my hands, I wandered into their lovely garden on the ...

Rock on down to a geopark near you

| Jun 17, 2012

Rock on down to a geopark near you

To naturalists and hikers, the renown of 810-meter Mount Apoi near the southern tip of Hokkaido towers mightily above its lowly elevation. For the view alone it offers of the Pacific coastline south to spectacular Cape Erimo, it’s worth the easy trek up this ...

The wonder of feathers

| May 20, 2012

The wonder of feathers

A soft flake of seeming sky falls, wafts and floats earthward catching the light. Lightly, and soft as gossamer, it lands to add a splash of color to the greenery of spring. It may be no more than a tiny feather that’s fallen from ...