Steve John Powell

For Steve John Powell's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

The changing view of Onomichi town

Dec 12, 2015

The changing view of Onomichi town

Last September, the town of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture became a headline-grabbing topic around the world with its Cat Street View project. In its first two weeks online, this Google-style map of the town, filmed from a cat’s perspective, went viral, racking up 1.7 ...

The Hiroshima art triangle: a space to get lost in thought

Nov 21, 2015

The Hiroshima art triangle: a space to get lost in thought

‘It’s Tokyo minus the stress.” That’s how one Japanese colleague described Hiroshima to us shortly after my wife, Angeles, and I arrived here, near the end of the last millennium. So, what’s its secret? Well, there’s its size for a start. And having six ...

Sweeping beauties of Kumano's brush area

Sep 12, 2015

Sweeping beauties of Kumano's brush area

In the soft morning drizzle, a handful of people line up before an altar-like mound of stones where a small fire crackles and hisses. Each person in turn throws a handful of old brushes into the blaze. The local garbage incinerator? No — this ...

Yuki's hot pools and cool trails are truly the stuff of legends

Jul 18, 2015

Yuki's hot pools and cool trails are truly the stuff of legends

According to legend, the hot spring in Yuki town, in western Hiroshima Prefecture, was discovered way back in the sixth century, when villagers noticed an injured heron bathing in the waters. Somewhat later, the Asano lords, who ruled the Hiroshima area from 1619 till ...

Dancing on the waves at Miyajima

May 9, 2015

Dancing on the waves at Miyajima

“The mystery of the Orient is legendary . . . it was in the air the moment we stepped ashore in Kyoto, and now in Tokyo it began to envelop us.” That’s how Charlie Chaplin described his arrival in Japan. I’m not sure if ...

Tomonoura: lost in a storied landscape

Nov 15, 2014

Tomonoura: lost in a storied landscape

The priest from Fukuzenji Temple is sitting cross-legged on a cushion in front of us like a Zen-sage. He has his back to a window of the Taichoro Guesthouse as he explains the significance of the astounding view before us. We are looking out ...

Jidai Matsuri: Sad-eyed lady at the festival of the ages

Oct 4, 2014

Jidai Matsuri: Sad-eyed lady at the festival of the ages

The young lady sitting on the bench nearby straightens her wig and applies the finishing touches to her makeup — face porcelain-white, lips blood-red and heart-shaped. She is wearing multiple kimono, one on top of the other, and must be boiling. It’s only 10.30 ...

Kintaikyo: A bridge reincarnated over troubled waters

Aug 30, 2014

Kintaikyo: A bridge reincarnated over troubled waters

Below the bridge, flat-bottomed boats are ferrying people across the Nishiki River, just as they did centuries ago — back when commoners were not permitted to walk over its wooden arches, and even centuries before that, when there was no bridge at all. The ...

Yabusame archers of the lonely Chugoku Mountains

Jul 19, 2014

Yabusame archers of the lonely Chugoku Mountains

What are those peculiar scarecrow figures, lolling about the villages of the Chugoku Mountains? Is that a man fishing from a bridge? A couple leaning against a railing? A whole family in a field? Some are dressed in kimono or peasant costumes, others are ...