Barbican, London – The Japanese House

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This year the Barbican centre ran an exhibition; ‘The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945’.

I was impressed by the creative layout, a large gallery was used, in the centre a life sized house and garden were installed. This was surrounded by individual galleries telling the story of evolving design in the post war decades.

What better way to celebrate the economical use of space and thoughtful design present in Japanese homes than to make it a central theme of your exhibition. 

Upon entering – the first gallery features a set of movies showing Japanese life in the 40s and 50s; a good intro to the sights and sounds, it gives you a sense of how the space at home was used.

Part of the focus of the exhibition is the identity challenge japan faced after the war. Post war – American design and culture was popular, however as confidence returned there was an increasing desire to return to Japanese values. Designers were experimenting with various aspects of traditional Japanese design and trying to figure out the best way to combine these with western design.

The videos highlight the strange mix of American hairstyles and clothing with the Japanese way of living – eating, drinking tea etc.

The central space with mock up houses surrounded by individual galleries.

The first set of photographs are from Yasuhiro Ishimoto and feature traditional Japanese architecture. I could really connect with Ishimoto’s style, his focus is on the clean geometric lines and this emphasises the beauty and simplicity of traditional palaces and temples in Japan.

These are followed further on with a couple of nice prints of a house designed by Kiyoshi Seike. In post war Japan there was a preference for western style housing, however Seike was designing modern modular homes using traditional Japanese design theory.

The exhibition featured a number of interesting books that go into detail about the different traditional styles in Japan.

One of the things you will see in Japan is extremely creative use of small plots of land. The exhibition features prints of original concrete designs built cheaply by people that held small plots.

A quick web search of Japanese architecture will show the huge volume and variety of styles of these houses. I think the exhibition could have included more variety of the modern houses, however I think the focus was more on the post war evolution.

There was one stunning print of Junzo Yoshimura’s mountain lodge.

And there is Kazunari Sakamoto’s ‘closed box’ house, where the focus is on efficient use of space. At the time I could imagine this felt ground breaking and exciting, however I personally found the concrete narrow rooms to look too cold.

Kazuo Shinoharo’s ‘House Under High Voltage Lines’ addressed a key challenge in Japanese cities; the regulations and restrictions that have to be dealt with surrounding the power lines – one of the things that make Japanese cities so recognisable.

The exhibition also featured some interesting small models.

And some sketches.

A trip to the Barbican isn’t complete without a enjoying a bit of sun in the courtyard and appreciating the rare occasions where concrete architecture works :)

 

 

 

 

Looking Back at 2016 Photos

germany, hong kong, japan, london, scotland, south korea, taiwan, thailand, Thoughts on Life

I thought it might be fun to spend one of the last hours of 2016 taking a quick look back through this years photos and picking out a few of my favourites by month.

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I took 6390 photos this year, that’s almost double what I took in 2015 and 2014. And I was a bit surprised to see that 2420 of them were taken in Thailand. It really is one of my favourite places to be.

There is a direct correlation between how I feel and how many photos I take. I was feeling pretty awesome in Thailand at the start of the year, but as the year moved forward I struggled to eat healthy and get into better shape; two big ongoing goals. And that coupled with difficult work meant my mood wasn’t great for the second half of the year.

I travelled quite widely, but didn’t really take full advantage of it. I’m glad I am thinking this through now as it’s now my main goal to improve eating, fitness and mood in 2017.

Without further ado, let’s take a look month by month through my pics of the year.

January

Only 55 photos taken in January and all in London. However there are a couple of nice ones including the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and the New Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf. I was back to using my old D3100 and 50mm lens.

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February

February and more London shots. I went around Soho / Chinatown / Shoreditch with a new ‘used’ camera. A D610 with the kit lens. I used this and my 50mm for the rest of the year.

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I also went to Thailand for a bit of rest and relaxation. Highlights were a great flight on Eva air with the nicest air stewardesses, the sunset at Bang Sare and the cocktail VW buses popular in Thailand.

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I also started a collection of photographs to capture ‘motorbike’ life in Thailand, they are such an integral part of Thai culture.

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March

1152 photos in March. A lot of motorbike and beach shots. I also discovered the awesome Baa Hop Fang festival / market in Pattaya. At the end of the month I went to Bangkok and started working my way through a book of Bangkok walks.

Pattaya

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Bangkok

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April

April was another Bangkok month. I had a great time walking around the city. I think my best pictures of the year are from April; especially one shot of the Maha Nakhorn building. I also enjoyed Songkran; the Thai new year festival. That’s an unmissable experience!

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May

May was back to London for work. I got some nice spring shots in Shoreditch. I also went to Scotland to see family but got a chance to take some pictures in Edinburgh, Crail and my mum’s garden.

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June

No photos! – My work project was managing the half year report for Standard Chartered so I can only guess I had no time at all to even think about the camera!

July

I think I was quite busy in July too, only a handful of shots from city walks in London and another Scotland trip.

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August

With work coming to an end I went of to Tokyo with an unexpected layover in Frankfurt due to a Typhoon.

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September

More Tokyo where I enjoyed some of the best Karaoke nights out and a few visits to my local Maid Cafe. I then went onto Taipei.

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Taipei

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OCToBER

This was another good photo month. Some more shots in Taipei and then off to Hong Kong and Shenzhen before heading to Seoul.

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Hong Kong

(I need to revisit the processing on these HK shots it’s not great)

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Shenzhen

The highlight was OCT Loft

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Seoul

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November

Last few photos in Seoul. Korea really has the most beautiful a palaces.

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December

Back to the UK, and I had a lovely chance to finish the year with some pictures in Scotland and London.

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That’s it, 2016 in photos. I do need to take some time to go through all the photos, there are some picks in their that haven’t been processed yet, but it takes a load of time to review photos.

I’m really grateful for the chance to see the places and people I have this year. On the other hand I know that I didn’t push myself with a positive attitude to get the most out of it. That’s my big goal for 2017.

So, watch this space, hopefully there will be a lot more interesting sights to come in the year ahead.

Rainy Days in Tokyo and Meditation

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I’m enjoying a few rainy days in Tokyo; it’s Typhoon season after all. The rainy days are quite refreshing and a little cooler than the normal late summer heat.

Until the last few days I had been mostly in t-shirts and trainers/sneakers (converse or vans) due to the heat. I prefer to walk around with shoes (brown brogues) and a shirt, so I am kind of happy with it being a little cooler. I can wear a shirt w/out immediatly soaking it in sweat!

Here is a grey sky over Shinjuku from yesterday.

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Girl in Tokyo reading Manga on the train

Tokyo Ranchero and Manga Girl

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I snapped a few nice shots around Tokyo in the last few days. I spotted another sweet classic parked up in Harajuku. This is a Ford Ranchero, it’s the first time I saw one in real life, I think it’s the slightly less popular competitor to the El Camino. This one looks awesome in gloss black.

A Ford Ranchero in Harajuku, Tokyo

A Ford Ranchero in Harajuku, Tokyo

A Short Trip To Asakusa

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Today was a chill day. I didn’t have any exercise scheduled. My main plan was to study some japanese and graphic design and to head over to Asakusa and maybe take a few photos.

To be honest, the day was a bit of a fail, I couldn’t concentrate at all and it was way too hot to walk around taking photos for a long time.

However, I did take a few shots in Asakusa. The area is famous for Sensoji 浅草寺 – it’s a temple complex that many people visit. There are a lot of shops selling traditional japanese products. There are also a lot of traditional restaurants.

You have probably seen the entrance gate to Sensoji before, it’s the one with the huge lantern. It’s often photographed super close up and you can see there are always lot’s and lot’s of people around it.

Here are three shots from around Sensoji.

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Sendagaya Jeep

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The highlight of the day was a classic jeep spotted in Sendagaya (千駄ヶ谷), Tokyo (東京)

I saw this on the way from the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym to Omotesando. The metropolitan gym has a training room, pool and finess studio available for public use for 600 yen per session. It’s great for visitors who don’t want the hassle of a membership.

Here’s the Jeep

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hakka no togame

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My blog name may sound strange in English. The reason is it comes from Japanese. It has a special significance to me which involves an ex girlfriend, travel across the world and around one hundred and thirty hours of TV.

The Japanese Kanji for hakka no togame is 白霞罸.

The first two characters together represent the name Hakka (romaji) / はっか (hiragana). When two consonents  are written together in romaji to pronounce it pause slightly before the consonent and pronounce it sharply and clearly. Kind of like Ha-Ka rather than Haka.

Names in Japanese have underlying meaning, in the case of Hakka 白霞  – the meaning is 白 – white and 霞 -haze.

The third character 罸 means punishment, penalty, censure.

Therefore hakka no togame / 白霞罸 can be translated to something like ‘white haze punishment’.

Why on earth would I call my blog white haze punishment? We have to go back around ten years to answer that.

I moved to London when I was around 28. After moving to London I had what I would call my first real grown up relationship (girlfriend).

My girlfriend was called Corrine and was from Singapore.

We used to love going to cafe japan in north london to eat delicious Japanese food.

When we were relaxing at her apartment one night she put on an anime movie. The movie was one of the ‘Bleach’ films.

Bleach is a super popular long running anime which is now finished.