Nature's pulse at Asia's heart

| Sep 20, 2006

Nature's pulse at Asia's heart

by Mark Brazil

It’s September, autumn is around the corner, and here in Hokkaido where I live we have already had the first dusting of snow. This has been a long summer of travels for me. As soon as my teaching commitments at university were completed, I ...

Flourishing on nutrients few

| Aug 16, 2006

Flourishing on nutrients few

by Mark Brazil

As the heat and humidity of summer build up, my favored relief is to head for the hills. Last weekend I even managed to slide down a snowbank, and that really cooled me off! Snow lingers late in the higher mountains here in Hokkaido ...

Mud, mud, glorious mud

| May 17, 2006

Mud, mud, glorious mud

by Mark Brazil

Loss: That sense of deep detachment when a loved one has departed; the bewilderment and displacement at finding something or somewhere treasured to have gone; the confusion of returning to one’s childhood haunts only to find them changed beyond recognition. We have, no doubt, ...

Birds' amazing 'tweezers'

| Apr 19, 2006

Birds' amazing 'tweezers'

by Mark Brazil

The chances are that you are reading this while holding The Japan Times in one or both hands. Alternatively you may be reading online after having tapped on various keys with your fingers to make images appear before your eyes. Either way, manual dexterity ...

What's making a noise in the woods?

| Mar 15, 2006

What's making a noise in the woods?

by Mark Brazil

The cherry blossom wave has begun its annual northward sweep through the country, island-hopping up the archipelago from Okinawa in the wake of the delicately blossoming plum. As those fragile tree blossoms presage spring, so various resident birds, fine-tuned to the subtly lengthening hours ...

Underwater walker beggars belief

| Feb 15, 2006

Underwater walker beggars belief

by Mark Brazil

The winter’s snow gathers first as a dusting on the riverside vegetation. The wiry dwarf bamboo bows slowly under the accumulating blanket; shrubs and bushes disappear beneath duvet-like domes of crisp whiteness. The surrounding Hokkaido forest becomes hushed; the trees white-coated, their branches laden ...

Taking delight in decomposition

| Nov 16, 2005

Taking delight in decomposition

by Mark Brazil

The autumn carpet of leaves along woodland and mountain trails deepens as each breath of wind spins more and more foliage from the trees and sends flakes of colors whirling across the landscape. Storms rip whole canopies of leaves away, snapping off branches and ...

Autumn sees predators in action

| Oct 19, 2005

Autumn sees predators in action

by Mark Brazil

The hunters are abroad! Every day, now, the sparrow hawks, goshawks, honey buzzards, ospreys and falcons that summer in Northeast Asia are migrating out of the region. As cooler weather approaches and prey numbers decline, these predators head south for the winter. Soon, almost ...