Swimming upstream to become a dragon

| Apr 12, 2014

Swimming upstream to become a dragon

by Mark Brazil

While shuffling back from my early-morning dip in a hot spring at Kambayashi Onsen, I noticed the fish in the garden pond. They had gathered, heads together, in a strange starlike cluster, as if for a piscine tête-à-tête. They were languorously wafting their tails ...

Noisy bulbuls change with the seasons

| Mar 8, 2014

Noisy bulbuls change with the seasons

by Mark Brazil

On cold winter mornings the bulbuls come squawking their full-throated calls as they swoop onto bird-feeders, their white-tipped gray breast feathers appearing frosted by the chill. There, they will eat bread crusts and seeds — or halved mikans given a chance — but in ...

Weather in Japan: from balmy to barmy

| Feb 8, 2014

Weather in Japan: from balmy to barmy

by Mark Brazil

The division of Japan into distinct climatic zones means that anyone traveling around the country will normally encounter quite predictable demands in terms of clothing requirements; while for those in any one area the local weather forecast will be correct more often than not. ...

Seasons come and go — but when?

| Jan 11, 2014

Seasons come and go — but when?

by Mark Brazil

Another new year has arrived and a Hokkaido blizzard is tearing past my window, drifting snow onto every surface as if it means to drown out the world in whiteness. Thankfully it also brings a muffling silence into which thoughts pop and crackle. As ...

Just picture that — and know how to

| Oct 12, 2013

Just picture that — and know how to

by Mark Brazil

A sleek, black anchor shape, etched against the blue sky, hurtles in pursuit of prey. A Northern Hobby, a flashy falcon, is chasing dragonflies. Sighting one alone speaks to me of summer in Hokkaido, especially with its mate brooding or feeding a growing fledgling ...

Building a case for birds

| Jul 20, 2013

Building a case for birds

by Mark Brazil

Many people would consider Stonehenge in southwest England or the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt — which both date from around 4,600 years ago — among the crowning glories of human achievement. In Japan, Kyoto’s 14th-century Rokuon-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) or ...