Touring the Countryside of Otsu City with its Mayor
My New Photography Assistant Naomi Koshi, who moonlights as the mayor of the City of Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan 僕の 撮影 アシスタント 、越直美 さん (アシスタント以外の副業は滋賀県大津市の市長です) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 48mm — 1/400 sec, f/4, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
My New Photography Assistant
Naomi Koshi, who moonlights as the mayor of the City of Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan
僕の撮影アシスタント、越直美さん
(アシスタント以外の副業は滋賀県大津市の市長です)

The other day I got to participate in a relaxing countryside tour in the city of Otsu, next to Kyoto. The tour company, Tour du Lac Biwa (Lake Biwa Tours), specializes in unique experiences of things not generally open to the public (even to Japanese) combined with countryside food and hospitality, all presented in English.

この間、面白い事できました。このヴィデオ(NHKより)簡単説明します。

When I've gone on tours by them in the past (including this, this, this, and this) it's usually been as a test foreigner to give them feedback as they design their tours, and to share my photos with them. It's a symbiotic relationship, where I get to do really fun stuff I'd not normally have access to (unless I paid to go on the tour, of course), and they get my considered opinion and some pictures for their web site.

My blog write-ups about my experiences with them probably sound like advertisements; I think they're really great and the time I had with them was one I want to share. I've been living in Japan on and off for 25 years, yet these tours have let me experience new things most Japanese don't even get to do.

Anyway, this time was a bit different, as they were hosting the mayor of Otsu, the city where most of their tours take place, to show what they as a tour company are doing to promote the area, and to explore how to work together with the local government. I was one of three long-term foreign residents of Japan invited to join the discussion (and the tour) with the mayor.

Otsu is a medium-sized city with a population on par with Honolulu or Anaheim, and in land area with San Jose or New Orleans. Being immediately adjacent to both Kyoto and Japan's largest lake has garnered it a rich part of Japan's history, yet the separation from Kyoto by a small line of mountains has kept much of it free from the urban sprawl that has been crowding out Kyoto's nature more and more over the last 1,200 years.

The Mayor of Otsu for the last several years has been Naomi Koshi, who surprised me both by showing up in jeans and a T-shirt, and by being fluent in English. Her clothes were perfectly appropriate for the activity, but somehow I had a more stuffy pre-conceived image of The Mayor. Seeing her this way made me feel immediately comfortable.

Pre-Tour Briefing at Shiga Station (滋賀駅), Otsu City -- Shiga Station (滋賀駅) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 42mm — 1/400 sec, f/9, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Pre-Tour Briefing
at Shiga Station (滋賀駅), Otsu City

It turns out that Naomi is a Harvard-educated lawyer who has practiced law in both New York and Tokyo. She grew up here in Otsu.

Bicycle Introduction -- Shiga Station (滋賀駅) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 110 — map & image datanearby photos
Bicycle Introduction

The adventure this time was a version of Tour du Lac's Lake Biwa Electric Bike Tour, abbreviated in several spots to accommodate the mayor's schedule.

The Entourage Departs -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 58mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
The Entourage Departs

The bikes are electrically assisted, so it's not at all the cycling that I do, but it certainly was a perfect fit for a relaxing tour because we could go up into the hills with absolutely no effort.

The bikes used by NORU tours in Kyoto, which I've written about before, are not electrically assisted, but they don't need to be because of the flat routes they take. On this tour in Shiga, we'd be going way up to a rice field in the hills, so the electric motors were much appreciated. It took a bit of experience to figure out that paradoxically, the less effort you put, the faster you went: the electronic motor would do all the work if you just lightly moved the pedals, but would scale back to leave you in full control of the power if you leaned into it.

So, the entourage of cyclists, TV crews, newspaper reporters, photographers, tour staff and city staff headed out for the day's tour...

First Stop Juge Shrine (樹下神社) -- Juge Shrine (樹下神社) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
First Stop
Juge Shrine (樹下神社)

Despite being just a few minutes from the station, the area was remarkably serene. Normally the tour would go in to explore the shrine area, but on our abbreviated tour we merely stopped for a photo...

Photo Op one of many -- Juge Shrine (樹下神社) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 180 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op
one of many

The next stop a short distance away was at the house of local artisan Masao Iwasaki, who specializes in a distinctive type of pottery.

At Masao Iwasaki's House 岩崎政雄の家 -- Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
At Masao Iwasaki's House
岩崎政雄の家

His house is hundreds of years old with a lovely thatched roof, but due to the abbreviated schedule of the day, I didn't get a chance to explore it with my camera as much as I would have liked.

He's turned one of the rooms into a gallery/showroom open to the outside, so you can just walk up to check out his work....

Looks Marshmallowy Soft -- Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/1600 sec, f/4, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Looks Marshmallowy Soft

We stole a few moments to go inside...

Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/4, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Wide Variety of Pieces -- Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Wide Variety of Pieces
Distinctive -- Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 42mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos
Distinctive

His style is quite distinctive, and can perhaps be a bit overwhelming when so much is displayed together in one presentation, so I found it better to concentrate on an individual piece at a time.

Dimpley-Face Bowl (えくぼ鉢) $50 plus tax -- Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 48mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Dimpley-Face Bowl (えくぼ鉢)
$50 plus tax
Photo Op with the Mayor the artist and the mayor photographed by the artist's wife -- Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op with the Mayor
the artist and the mayor photographed by the artist's wife
One Of His Works in situ -- Masao Iwasaki Gallery (岩崎政雄 The Gallery) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 45mm — 1/400 sec, f/5, ISO 4500 — map & image datanearby photos
One Of His Works
in situ
On The Move Again -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 40mm — 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
On The Move Again
Lakeside Park -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/1250 sec, f/5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Lakeside Park
Lovely Day -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/9, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Lovely Day

The little park is one that you literally won't find on the map, but the locals (such as the tour leaders) know it and bring their kids to play in the water, or do yoga in front of the wonderful view. There's nothing particularly special about the place... it's just a quiet, lovely place to relax.

Riding Along the Lake -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28mm — 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Riding Along the Lake

You may recognize this general view as one that appeared often in Pleasant 105km Bike Ride From Kyoto, Along Lake Biwa, to Takashima’s Shirohige Shrine. It was, as seems to be the theme for this tour, lovely.

Shino-san one of the tour leaders -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Shino-san
one of the tour leaders
Another Abbreviated Shrine Stop The Hassho Shrine (八所神社) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Another Abbreviated Shrine Stop
The Hassho Shrine (八所神社)

This shrine played a part in Japan's war-torn history 500 years ago, saving some important relics from a powerful warlord trying to obliterate all opposition in the region. But on our abbreviated time table, we didn't do more than stop by the parking lot.

Heading Up into the Hills -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Up into the Hills
Steep! the ease of the battery assist made the cyclist in me feel ashamed :-) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 180 — map & image datanearby photos
Steep!
the ease of the battery assist made the cyclist in me feel ashamed 🙂
Still Going Up passing by rice hung to dry -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Still Going Up
passing by rice hung to dry
Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 58mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Not Your Typical Tourist Activity -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 140 — map & image datanearby photos
Not Your Typical Tourist Activity
Still Heading Up very much appreciating the battery -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 62mm — 1/800 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Still Heading Up
very much appreciating the battery
Almost There -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/1600 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Almost There
Introductions the 86-year-old man in the blue hat is the chief elder of the local farming community who told us stories about farming in the area when he was a child in the 1930s -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/1600 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Introductions
the 86-year-old man in the blue hat is the chief elder of the local farming community
who told us stories about farming in the area when he was a child in the 1930s
Expansive View -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/2000 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Expansive View
Rice Harvest -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice Harvest

I've written about the rice harvest many times, such as Stages of the Rice Harvest and The Rice Harvest, Old-School, and many others (including here, here, and here). This tour would be the first time I'd actually get to try it myself.

(This part of the tour is obviously seasonal, so I suppose other times of the year you might participate in planting, or just visiting.)

Fruits (so to speak) of his Labor -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/500 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Fruits (so to speak) of his Labor
Very Sharp Sickle -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/1000 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Very Sharp Sickle

As the farmer explained how to harvest rice, he pointed at the blade of the sickle and, well, let me quote him: It's very sharp, so if you cut your finger, it hurts.

Deep Experiential Knowledge -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Deep Experiential Knowledge

This is perhaps just the curious geek in me, but I love to listen to experts talk about things I know little about. For example, the Sarah of my recent post Bridget and Sarah’s Tour-de-Kyoto is an expert in food preparation on a huge mass-market scale (e.g. preparing 100,000 boxed lunches for an airline or supermarket chain). I'm familiar with the end product but have only a vague imagination for the challenges that go into the design and preparation of that end product, so I find it fascinating when someone can shed real light on it. As I chatted with Sarah, I sensed in her a this must be really boring and no one ever asks me about this stuff reaction, but I found it interesting.

So in the same way, I found it interesting as the community elder explained a difference in how they tie the rice bundle now compared to when he was a kid. I didn't even fully grasp what he was saying, but was fascinated by the fact that it was something that anyone gave a thought to. But, of course, they must give it a lot of thought, as it's an important part of the process; if the knot fails or is too tight, rice production suffers. Such detailed thought about such a seemingly-trivial issue illustrates to me how much thought must go behind so many aspects of life that we don't have a personally-detailed understanding about.

Tying the Bundle with Debbie Debbie is the mom of Anthony's friend, Kenny -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 48mm — 1/1250 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Tying the Bundle with Debbie
Debbie is the mom of Anthony's friend, Kenny
Harvesting Like a Boss Steve Burkholder swings the sickle for the first time -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28mm — 1/1250 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Harvesting Like a Boss
Steve Burkholder swings the sickle for the first time
Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos

I gave it a try as well. The sickle is indeed very sharp and easily cuts through the rice stalks. Four cut handfuls make a bundle to be tied...

Tying my First Bundle photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/6.3, ISO 110 — map & image datanearby photos
Tying my First Bundle
photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi
Over Here to Hang It... photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Over Here to Hang It...
photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi
Hang it to Dry after about a week, it'll be ready for deshucking and consumption photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Hang it to Dry
after about a week, it'll be ready for deshucking and consumption
photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi
Heading Back for More photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Back for More
photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi
Photo Op photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op
photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi
Fun New Experiences the mayor grew up here, but had never done this -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 44mm — 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Fun New Experiences
the mayor grew up here, but had never done this
Haming It Up for the Camera -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Haming It Up for the Camera
More Serious For the Camera -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/800 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
More Serious For the Camera
Japanese Sake Made From This Rice one of nature's more enjoyable bounties -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/6.3, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Japanese Sake Made From This Rice
one of nature's more enjoyable bounties

The rice we're harvesting is a special rice intended for sake (Japanese rice wine) production. I asked how it was different from normal Japanese white rice, but I didn't fully understand the subtle nuances. I asked in Japanese; I should have asked in English through one of the tour leaders.

In any case, the sake is made at an old brewery in downtown Otsu that one can visit as part of a separate culinary feast tour. I did this tour last year and to my shame I haven't written about it yet, but it was really interesting. Public access to the brewery is normally limited to just a modern storefront, but as members of the tour we were ushered through the back door into the bowels of the 100-year-old complex, where we were given a tour (and samples!) by the nth-generation headmaster brewer running the place.

Mayoral Duties -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 36mm — 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Mayoral Duties
Photo Op photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op
photo by Hiromi Kawaguchi
Another Historical Stopping Point -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/7.1, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Another Historical Stopping Point

On the way to the next part of the tour we stopped for just a minute at a mini shrine related to one of the bigger ones we'd stopped at earlier, for another touch-point on the history of the area. I think more interesting to the foreign visitor is how the mini shrine (at the left of the photo above) seems to be on the property of the nearby houses, such as the one being gestured to on the right.

The shrine and its historical significance are a source of pride to the community, and part of that pride is evident in how the line between personal and shared space is more flexible than what we're used to in The West. Having lived here so long I've gotten used to it, but this was the first time it was pointed out to me so clearly. It's one of the many little tidbits that make Japan so foreign and interesting to western visitors.

We then visited a couple of houses in the community...

Rice-Cooking Stove 第一竈 萬能型 -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/4.5, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice-Cooking Stove
第一竈 萬能型

The stove above immediately caught my eye as looking old and interesting, especially with the style of writing on it that says in Japanese No. 1 Stove and Newest Style, and in English script Lead Type (which I suppose is a reference to a kind of metal rather than leadership, but without hearing it pronounced correctly it's up for speculation).

So while I'm writing this article I was surprised to find that this stove is still for sale new for $700. Seems a bit pricey, but perhaps it'll pay for itself because it burns the discarded husks left over after the rice harvest...

Looking Deep Inside rice husks and a bit of dry pine to get things started -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 52mm — 1/400 sec, f/7.1, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Deep Inside
rice husks and a bit of dry pine to get things started
Quickly Raging the design makes it burn very hot very quickly, like a rocket engine -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 44mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Quickly Raging
the design makes it burn very hot very quickly, like a rocket engine

There's rice and water in the pot being held above. It's put on the stove and that's it: in 15 minutes the rice is ready to eat.

Rice Cooker modern convenience -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice Cooker
modern convenience

While the rice was cooking, we moved to the house of one of the farmers, and had a lovely bento lunch made with local produce.

Unwrapping Our Lunches -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Unwrapping Our Lunches
Lovely Presentation the beauty and practicality of a furoshiki cloth -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Lovely Presentation
the beauty and practicality of a furoshiki cloth
Yummy -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 36mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 5600 — map & image datanearby photos
Yummy
Yummy the aforementioned sake -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Yummy
the aforementioned sake
Bag of Rice showing off the results of an earlier harvest -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Bag of Rice
showing off the results of an earlier harvest
Interview -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Interview

There were two separate TV crews following us around. The national broadcaster (NHK) ran this video that evening.

Typical Countryside Scene -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Typical Countryside Scene

The lady tending the garden in front of her house had nothing to do with the day's events, but she happened to be nearby and happened to be working on her garden, and since it made a quaint scene, I thought to snap a photo. But just as I was about to take the photo, one of the tour leaders also noticed her and started chatting like the neighbors they were, to which the happy smile was added to the scene.

We said good-by to the Mayor Koshi, who was taken away by car, and to the news crews who then went their separate ways. We then had another pleasant ride back along the lake to the train station where we'd started out....

Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos

The lakeshore was lined with flowers, so I had to stop everyone for one last photo op...

Nice Memory of a Nice Day The three ladies in the foreground are the bilingual tour leaders the man is Mr. Fujiwara from the Otsu City office of tourism -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/1600 sec, f/5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Nice Memory of a Nice Day
The three ladies in the foreground are the bilingual tour leaders
the man is Mr. Fujiwara from the Otsu City office of tourism

So that was my Tuesday. At the risk of overusing the word, it was a lovely day.

One of my favorite photos of the day was one of the first I took, shooting backwards as we rode up a hill to the first shrine. I had hoped the focus would be on the mayor, but her smile was so big that it's clearly evident even out of focus, complimented by Steve's in-focus smile:

Ill-Composed, Poorly-Focused, Tilted but it sums up the day perfectly -- 近江木戸(バス) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/1000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Ill-Composed, Poorly-Focused, Tilted
but it sums up the day perfectly

All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

an alternative title to “Dimpley-Face Bowl ” could be “Human-Brain Bowl”.

— comment by Marcina on October 9th, 2015 at 5:31am JST (2 years ago) comment permalink

Ha! I was just wikidiving yesterday reading about stoves (sitting next to the heating stove in the house we’ve purchased) and came upon “rocket stove” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_stove. Looks like the one above is a variant.

Apparently it’s not, actually, and I was just using the term incorrectly (on purpose, but incorrectly nevertheless). I’d never heard the term, and when someone suggested it was a “rocket stove”, I liked the descriptive nature of it even though they were told that no, it wasn’t. But it shoots out a hot flame the like a rocket, so I went ahead and used the term anyway. Sorry. 😉 —Jeffrey

— comment by Gustaf on October 11th, 2015 at 5:18am JST (2 years ago) comment permalink

Thanks so much for letting us take part in the tour by your great story! I admire you for your blog.
And what a cool mayor!

— comment by Anne on October 11th, 2015 at 6:15am JST (2 years ago) comment permalink

Is that the people I introduced you to? It’s good to see they are being successful.

Yes, thanks again for that. —Jeffrey

— comment by Zak on October 14th, 2015 at 11:47am JST (2 years ago) comment permalink

Amazing! Wonderful to see Japan, photography, and biking all in one place. Doesn’t take me long to miss Japan, but hearing adventures of cycling and photo ops is unfair.

I’ll admit, despite the plethora of bike shops and bikes, I think I saw one bike in hundreds of thousands that was over 45000 Yen. This cyclist looked so out of place in his carbon road bike and clothing kit that I swore I’d never attempt cycling in Japan. I see more riders from Japan where I live in the Rocky Mountains. You all make it look commonplace! And you’ve shown us it can be done, with a road bike no less.

Glad to see I wasn’t the only one struggling getting photos without outrageous ugly signage, trash bins, odds and ends, and THE WORST: power lines. I might break a few rules to get a photo, but Japan wires you to mind the rules. Glad you can get into places the rest of us could not.

— comment by Photo Enthusiast on October 17th, 2015 at 1:48pm JST (2 years ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...


All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.


You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting