The Osaka recruitment fair

Thursday 23rd March 2017, 7.00pm (day 2,037)

Osaka fair, 23/3/17

I am here to work rather than just swan around visiting shrines, so here is a picture of that side of my life. We are trying to persuade Japanese potential students to come and study in Manchester — many of whom are vastly intelligent, fluent in English and would be obvious assets to the intellectual community, only you try telling this to certain elements in the reactionary press. Anyway, ignoring this aspect of our lives my colleague James, on the left, and his temporary client, seem happy enough as they discuss how to arrange this. I like this picture, it makes it feel like our presence here has a real positive point.

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Prayers at the Meiji-Jingu shrine

Wednesday 22nd March 2017, 12.10pm (day 2,036)

Prayers. 22/3/17

Worked in the afternoon and evening, but had a bit of time off in the morning so spent it visiting Meiji-Jingu, a Shinto shrine to the Emperor Meiji who is revered for being the ruler under whom Japan transitioned from a feudal to a modern state towards the end of the 19th century. It was set in a beautiful, tranquil forest park, though the shrine itself, while an attractive building, was nothing particularly spectacular. A peaceful (and free) way of spending a couple of hours though.

For a donation of ¥500 (£3.50, give or take) visitors can acquire one of these prayer tablets and hang up their appeal along with a few thousand others on these boards outside the main temple. The reason for picking this photo in particular is the tablet to top centre. If there are such things as kami (spirits in the Shinto belief system), I hope they address that one, at least.

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Side street, Shinjuku district

Tuesday 21st March 2017, 8.25pm (day 2,035)

Shinjuku side street, 21/3/17

So here I am in Japan, specifically a side street not far from the immense Shinjuku station, which is like, take the biggest metro station you’ve previously seen in your life and octuple it. Since getting completely turned on to the country — or a certain stereotypical idea of it — by reading and watching Shogun when I was a teenager I have wanted to come here, and so now I’ve finally made it, thanks to a complete work freebie that just fell into my lap two months ago, it’s not easy to know how to depict it. Obviously it’ll take a few more days (months, a lifetime maybe) to even start the process of learning what the ‘real Japan’ is actually like, but let’s start with this shot. I suppose I picked this picture because it’s as good an effort as I can make at picturing my preconceptions. There were plenty of Blade Runner moments this evening, put it that way. But is that life imitating art, or the other way around? What I can gather so far, is that there’s not a lot of point worrying about the difference here.

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This week’s transit lounge (Helsinki)

Monday 20th March 2017, 4.55pm (day 2,034)

Helsinki airport, 20/3/17

I am sat in my hotel room in Tokyo as I type this, but there can be no photos of Japan for this day as I didn’t touch Asian soil until Tuesday morning. This is Helsinki, which a few years ago had several shots on this blog in its own right but since then has become another one of those places (Copenhagen, Schiphol, Istanbul….) seen as an airport transfer but not otherwise ‘real’. How does it compare? Well, it has a decent amount of booze in it as you can see. And there was sunshine, which was certainly more than there was in Manchester on departure, or indeed on Tokyo on arrival, both teeming with rain.

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Nice weather for (Muscovy) ducks

Sunday 19th March 2017, 5.05pm (day 2,033)

Muscovy duck, 19/3/17

It’s been raining since about Friday morning, though did stop in the afternoon — a good thing seeing as the river was rising. Drove one representative of the local Muscovy duck colony off the water anyway; not that things were much less damp in town for it.

Off to Japan tomorrow. Forgive me if updates don’t arrive daily, at least for the next few days. There will be plenty to see I’m sure.

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Lying down tree

Saturday 18th March 2017, 11.05am (day 2,032)

Lying down tree, 18/3/17

A day out in the Lake District but as you can see, the weather was not good so I stuck to the low-altitude scenery. This is the Derwentwater, and on its west shore stands, or rather lies, this tree — perfectly healthy and seemingly not fazed at all by the fact that it has grown horizontally and now lies permanently half-in and half-out of the water. Look at the root structure, how it’s still clinging on to solid ground.

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A rather pointless road sign

Friday 17th March 2017, 8.55am (day 2,031)

Pointless arrow, 17/3/17

This alley heads off Cross Street in Manchester and then ends after about twenty metres in the blank white wall of the building you see ahead. That building must have been built quite a while ago now, like in the 1970s at the latest. No car or other vehicle has come down this street in a long time. And as the double yellow lines imply, you aren’t supposed to even use this as a lay-by.

So why the arrow? Why a nice, bright, reasonably freshly painted ‘turn right’ sign (when Cross Street isn’t even one-way)? Answers on a postcard to Manchester City Council please.

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Heading home

Thursday 16th March 2017, 5.55pm (day 2,030)

Going home, 16/3/17

Long day for me today. In on the 7am train out of HB and back on the 17.45 from Manchester, on which this shot was taken. I felt like the woman in the middle.

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Contrail weave

Wednesday 15th March 2017, 5.50pm (day 2,029)

Contrailscape, 15/3/17

On evenings like this it is as if the flight paths are creating some kind of tapestry. There is the latest weave going in, from top left. We humans seem to have found various ways to fiddle with the climate, and these artificial clouds are just another example of that, but they’re so everyday now, do we even think about them as much as we should?

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AMBS building site, Oxford Road

Tuesday 14th March 2017, 1.05pm (day 2,028)

MBS building site, 14/3/17

Not the most exciting photo either but at least it indicates I had schlepped my way down to campus for the first time since March 2nd. Which, like most of Manchester has been throughout the whole lifetime of this blog, is being rebuilt — here, the Business School, part of the whole ‘campus masterplan’ that will turn us into some world-leading something-or-other, if the money doesn’t run out first, anyway.

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