An audience with an island menace

| Jul 12, 2014

An audience with an island menace

by Mark Brazil

By 8 o’clock on a warm early summer morning on Chichijima, one of Tokyo’s Ogasawara Islands, bright sunshine was already threatening to overwhelm my light-sensitive eyes and the heat was cranking up in preparation for what I refer to as reptilian warmth. The panoramic ...

Japan's efforts bring back 'extinct' species

| Jun 7, 2014

Japan's efforts bring back 'extinct' species

by Mark Brazil

Oriental stork 73; crested ibis 82; red-crowned crane 1,143; short-tailed albatross estimated 3,550. Those numbers of wild birds in Japan seem perilously low — and they are, especially when considered alongside the Japanese population of 126.75 million people — but in reality they are ...

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 ...