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The JH Sundex

Second Insane Sunset Photo

I’ve devised a system for rating how photogenic a sunset or sunrise was. I’m calling it the JH Sundex. It goes from 0-10. The JH Sundex will measure how much light ,color and texture there is in a given sunrise or sunset. It’s totally subjective.Using the JH Sundex as a guide, you can rate your own photos, or blast out a heads up about a super sunset/rise. Tonight I saw a sunset that was a mid to high 8 on the JH Sundex. There was plenty of light, color and texture. It was amazing.

I’m thinking that with this system, 10 will be an ideal. Unattainable. The highest levels will be factors of 9. I will have to flesh it out a bit more with examples.

I’ll use the photo up top as my first example. I’ll look at four factors: Composition, light, color and texture.

The photo has an okay composition, but it’s not that great. However, the light color and texture are spectacular. I believe this sunset came about due to standing wave clouds near Mt.Iwate, so due to the rarity of the event and all the elements put together, I would probably give it a 7.8 or 7.9 on the JH Sundex.

New Ride

I forgot to mention this on the blog, but as of May 2, I’m the new owner of a 2013 Mazda Demio Skyactiv. This model is the Mazda 2 in North America. It’s the first new car I’ve ever owned. I bought it because I was looking for a fuel efficient auto, and this thing gets 30km/L. I’m pretty pumped about that. I’m thinking of using the blog to track my history with the car and the odometer readings. I will outline some of the early milestones in this post.

Purchase Mileage: 8km
May 4: 100km
May 11: 250km

I should hit the 500km mark sometime in the next two days. I’ll post when that happens. Might as well use my blog for something. Haha.

If you have a new car and you’re tracking its history as well, feel free to share your blog with me.

My iPhone might have just saved my life

In  the last couples of hours I just went through a pretty large earthquake. It didn’t help that I was driving at the time. Oh, and the roads were icy as heck. Here is how it went down.

I’m almost home from my daily commute from Ashiro to Matsuo (about 30 minutes) The road conditions are poor and it’s snowing. Then, out of nowhere, my iPhone starts blaring. I know immediately that this is the built in Earthquake warning system. I slowed my car down from 50km/h to about 30km/h, then things start shaking like there is no tomorrow. Even at 30km/h I was having trouble keeping it on the road. It feels like I’m driving on an uneven dirt road. I did manage to keep control, and the quake subsided.  I figured I had about 10 seconds from the alarm to the quake. Not a lot of time, but enough to get my car under control.  Scary stuff. All is ok. I got the car under control and home with no major issues.

Some folks are asking me which app I used. This one is built into all iPhones sold in Japan.  I am ok, and there doesn’t seem to be any damage. But, boy am I glad that system was in place. Apple and the Japanese Government had the best coop deal in the world there.

Oh, I should also mention that many other phones in Japan have this feature built in. It isn’t exclusive only to the iPhone. I’m just glad it was there.

Remember November

©2012 Jason Hill

2013 is next year, and if you look back into the archives of my blog, you’ll see that 2003 is when I came to Japan. In fact, this blog actually began before I arrived. I created it just after I found out I was coming to Japan. I didn’t even know where I would be placed. It’s all ancient history now. So much has happened in that time. Empires have risen and fallen. I lived through a massive earthquake and tsunami, and many other have struggled through Hurricanes and floods. I lived in Senmaya for three years, and now I’ve live in Hachimantai. It was a time before Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, Prius. Funny to imagine such a time today. It was a time before time itself.

So what is so important about November? Well, if you go back to the time before I made the blog, before I was even accepted on the JET programme, you’ll see that I had to have started the application at some point. And, if I remember it correctly, ’twas November 18 I submitted my application. Therefore November is the very beginning of my tenth anniversary in Japan. The actual anniversary will be July 18, 2013, but I plan some small celebrations leading up to it. This is my first little party. I doubt most of you still even read this blog anymore. That is partially because I don’t write here much. I’d like to change that. We’ll see.

Anyways, happy November.

Some People Call it Heaven.

Some People Call it Heaven
Some People Call it Heaven, originally uploaded by jasohill.

I call it Hachimantai.

Strange Clouds Seen near Mt.Iwate

It was near five o’clock yesterday when I looked out my window and noticed the waves in the sky. The sun had not set, but I knew there was something up with the clouds.  So I grabbed my camera gear and took off to find a better perch in which to shoot them. Here is what I got:

Sky Ribbon
It appear as if a large ribbon had formed over the sky.

At the End of the World (by jasohill)
This amazing lenticular cloud appeared out of nowhere.

At the Vortex (by jasohill)
More of the lenticular cloud with Mr.Iwate.

The Sky Opened up. (by jasohill)
The lenticular cloud and the ribbon wave seen together.

The Mysteries of Japan (by jasohill)
Mt.Iwate seen with the ribbon wave and a bridge.

Haiti Earthquake reilef effort in Japan

I’m compiling a quick list of resources for people living in Japan should they desire to donate to the relief effort in Haiti. I only have  a couple at the moment, but I’ll be adding more as I find them.  These allow you to make a bank transfer if you don’t have any other way to donate. If you don’t live in Japan, check out this article on The Huffington Post to find a place to donate:

1. Japanese Red Cross

If you want to send money to the Red Cross in Japan, please visit this page to get the bank transfer info you will need to send money:
If you need assistance with instructions in how to do the transfer please leave a comment and I will give you a quick overview of how to do a Japanese bank trasfer.

2. Doctors without borders Japan branch:

This one time donation allows you to donate with a japanese credit card.

Spring is Around us

Table for two, originally uploaded by jasohill.

Spring has finally come to Japan. It was a long winter with a lot of snow, but it’s now just starting to pay off. The flowers started coming out today and that means the cherry blossoms aren’t far behind.

I went out after work to find some nice flowers that would work well with the setting sun. There was a lot of haze in the air, so I took this set of daffodils and flowers that haven’t even bloomed yet. The haze gave a nice diffusion. It’s difficult to shoot daffodils. They are a bright yellow that doesn’t expose well. What I did hear was turn down the brightness in Aperture and increase the black point until I had the contrast I was looking for. I never actually use the contrast lever in Aperture. It’s just too hard. Happy spring everyone.

Do you think you are lost in Japan?

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the last few years. It appears more and more people are coming to Japan and using an email address that has, “I think I’m lost” or “lost in Japan” embedded inside. for example: ithinkimlost2530, or lostinjapan23.  I am puzzled why they are using this expression and how it came about in the first place.

My first suspicion was that it might be related to a popular Internet forum for  English teachers in Japan called(amazingly enough), “I think I am lost.” I was thinking  people would visit the site, then take on the title in their email as an homage to their favorite forum. However,  I’m pretty sure I had seen it used even before the forum had been created. So I’m left to wonder if this might have originated in a book or something.  Either way, I find the entire thing rather cliche.

I’m really not a huge fan of the expression, but I can’t say why it irritates me so when I hear it. The people that use this phrase might actually be scared and alone when they first get here, which would be the most rational explanation, but that doesn’t cover the people create the email months before they even leave their country.  I like to  imagine that the kind of people that are satirized on “Stuff White People like” are exactly those who would enjoy using this expression.   It’s trendy and pertains to a way of thinking that I cannot grasp. As if being in Japan is a Zen experience and they are soul searching while they are here, so they declare themselves fragile or ‘lost’ to show the world how truly spiritual they are.

Japan has never really been like that for me.  I  enjoy the culture, the people and the everyday conveniences, but I’ve never really thought about being here in a ‘spiritual’ sense;  as if it were something trendy I’m supposed to do before I return to the “real world.”  For me Japan is the real world, and I treat it as such everyday I’m here in the way I interact with the people around me.  Sure I’ve been scared, alone and actually lost in Japan, but I’ve never felt the need to declare myself lost.

Perhaps that is why I can say with certainty that I am “not lost” in Japan. It could also be that it’s Monday and Monday’s tend to sour my disposition.

[Update] If you use the “lost in Japan” expression in your email, perhaps you can explain why in the comments. I am truly curious.

My Photo of the year 2008

See you on the other side, originally uploaded by jasohill.

I took a lot of pictures last year. Most were landscape photos, but I had a few portraits in there as well. I recently went through some of the best ones and chose “See you on the other side” as my photo of the year. It represented my awakening as an artistic photographer.

It seems kind of silly to pic what you thought was the best you took, but I feel it’s an important lesson in understanding your own tastes. If you are a photographer, I’d recommend you chose what your best photo of the year was as well.