An ode to Japan's magnificent Sika Deer

| Feb 19, 2012

An ode to Japan's magnificent Sika Deer

Deep powdery snow is to a Sika Deer what a stage covered with fluffy feather pillows would be to a top-ranking ballerina. Both lead to loss of grace and floundering, for slim-footed deer and ballerina alike. Where narrow-hooved deer sink and flounder in snow, ...

Sealing a connection with nature

| Jan 15, 2012

Sealing a connection with nature

The cliff-ringed cape known as Notoro Misaki stands as a massive natural breakwater west of the city of Abashiri in northeastern Hokkaido, sheltering it from some of the might of the ocean. Under a summer sun and a vast near-cobalt sky, the white-flecked, blue-green ...

There's more to Christmas colors than meets the eye

| Dec 18, 2011

There's more to Christmas colors than meets the eye

The rotenburo (outdoor hot spring) that I most regularly frequent creates an excellent illusion of there always being a full moon bathing in its glow those soaking beneath. The careful (or perhaps coincidental?) placing of a pale-yellow dome light that shines through a gnarled, ...

Sarobetsu's a stopover to count on for wonders

| Nov 20, 2011

Sarobetsu's a stopover to count on for wonders

Gray predawn light suffuses the eastern horizon before crawling slowly across the landscape — but not before a rich clamoring reaches my ears. The swans are waking, and they are in earnest about moving on. The clamoring is their alert to one and all ...

In the wake of the Vikings

Nov 13, 2011

In the wake of the Vikings

At both its western and eastern extremes some 10,700 km apart in France and the Russian Far East respectively, the great, fused supercontinent of Eurasia breaks into fragments, into not quite matching fringes of islands. In the east, there are the likes of Hainan, ...

In the pink down on the Rio Negro

| Oct 16, 2011

In the pink down on the Rio Negro

Agreat splash, sounding as if a sumo wrestler had just belly-flopped into a swimming pool, echoed up through the wooden floor of my cabin. Yes, the floor. I was in the Brazilian Amazon and doing my best to sleep, in a cabin afloat on ...

Reflecting on icons of 'cute'

| Sep 18, 2011

Reflecting on icons of 'cute'

Although watching wildlife is not for everyone, countless hordes of visitors flock to zoos when tiger cubs or a Giant Panda baby first go on show, when penguins are on parade, or when young animals are present in the petting section. Why is that? ...

A blood donor to the masses

| Aug 21, 2011

A blood donor to the masses

The bug days are here again. Shades of green are deepening in the debilitating heat of a summer that’s made more of a hardship this year due to the post-March 11 energy-saving efficiencies required of us. Some creatures thrive in warmth, sunshine and summer ...

Of predators and prey

| Jun 19, 2011

Of predators and prey

The forest floor is a maze, a tangle, an adventure — all depending on one’s scale. Stems of sasa (dwarf bamboo) obscure much of the ground. Here and there the dark-leafed stems of evergreen Japanese plum yew sway gently, contrasting with paler, newly grown ...