At dinner with my parents last night, we were talking about the dinners at Sumiyoshi, the ryokan we stayed at in Takayama. I haven’t gotten around to uploading those pictures yet, but I dug this one out: It’s not the best picture of Kate, but she does provide a sense of scale… It was a […]

Sacred and Profane

The city of Nara, near Kyoto, is full of temples and shrines dating back to the eigth centruy, when it was briefly the capital of Japan. One of the largest shrines in the city, the Kasuga Taisha shrine, is dedicated to deities that use deer as their sacred messengers. As a result, deer are allowed […]

Worldcon Thoughts

Before it slips too far into the mists of memory, I should probably post some summary thoughts about Nippon 2007, the World SF Convention in Japan that Kate and I attended last week. To some degree, this will be inside-baseball stuff, but if you’re not interested in fannish stuff, rest assured, there is some good, […]

Short Japan Observations

A few general observations from three weeks on vacation in Japan, in no particular order: Thirteen hours is a long goddamn time to spend on a plane. The Japanese can and will pickle damn near anything. The Japanese love paper. This is not an exotic-art-of-origami reference, either: every commercial transaction in the country generates at […]

Sayonara, Yokohama

Worldcon wrapped up Monday morning, with a panel on blogs and LiveJournals in SF, which was recorded for a possible Tor podcast (it’s not up yet, but may turn up in the next few days). If you’d like to hear what I sound like when I find myself moderating a con panel with no real […]

Picture Contest Update

Several days ago, I mentioned that I had taken over 1,000 pictures on the trip thus far. That number has increased somewhat since then, and I offered a prize to the person who comes closest to guessing the final number, without going over. Specifically, I promised something cheap and tacky from Japan. I can now […]


If you really care about the winners of the 2007 Hugo Awards, you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but the winners of the 2007 Hugo Awards were announced last night. The ceremony went off pretty well, and clocked in at just over two hours, so it was much better than the Academy […]

Daibutsu no Naka

Back in 1998, when I was here for three months working outside of Tokyo, I made a trip down to Kamakura, which was the capital (or at least the seat of power) for a century or so, around 1200. It’s a beautiful town, full of great old temples, but it was a pissy, cold, and […]

Awesome Rice Art

One great link, while I’m posting things: rice paddy art in Inagadate: [B]y precisely planting four varieties of rice with differently colored leaves in fields their ancestors have farmed for centuries, the people of Inakadate Village have this year grown remarkable reproductions of famous woodblock prints by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). And this is no cheap […]