Tag Archive for 'Iwate'

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.

Mt.Iwate and Lenticular Clouds

Living in northern Japan has its share of good and bad. Being in a smaller area means that you have less access to major shopping and entertainment facilities. These are downsides many people could not stand to live without. One major bonus, however, is the incredible amount of raw nature a person can experience. In my little area of Northern Japan, Hachimantai City, located in Iwate Prefecture, I live not 15 kilometers from Mt.Iwate, one of Japan’s one hundred famous mountains.

The Mountain
Mt.Iwate as seen from Hachimantai City

Now Mt. Iwate is famous for a number of reasons. It looks just like Mt.Fuji from some angles. It’s a great mountain for climbing, and its snow cap paints a picturesque view in the winter. Recently, I have discovered that Mt.Iwate, like other cone shaped volcanoes such as Fuji and Mt. Rainer act as amazing lenticular cloud making machines.

Lenticular Kind of Day

Lenticular Clouds near Mt.Iwate

Lenticular clouds are saucer shaped clouds that are often seen stacked like pancakes near large mountains. On certain days winds rolling off the mountains create a standing wave. If stable and moist the air is around the mountain and falling downwind when the dew point is reached, the disks condense into clouds will stack up on each other. Every year, many people call the police to report these odd clouds. They looks either like a flying saucer or a cover for one. they are perfectly normal clouds. But you tend to find them around mountains.

Mt.Iwate has been a perfect source of lenticular clouds this year, and I’ve had my camera going most of this summer trying to document them. The following is what I have recorded so far. Sometimes, the lenticular clouds bend and warp out of shape and form incredible bulges in the sky. Once or twice a year, they provide for a spectacular sunset. Please enjoy these photos and look out for them the next time you are hanging around some mountains.

Lenticular Clouds over Homac in Nishine


At the End of the World

Road to the Mothership

Dancing With the Fire

Sky Ribbon

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.

Happy Birthday Kenji

Kenj If you visit Google today in Japan you’ll see they are honouring Kenji Miyazawa. He was a famous Japanese author. He wrote amazing  stories for children and poetry. He was also born and raised in Iwate. The very place I live in Japan. Happy birthday Kenji.

An Engaging Anouncement

It’s funny that I forgot to write about this on my blog. Considering how long I’ve had this site, you’d think I’d remember to do something as simple as letting you all know that I’ve asked the love of my life, Akira, to Marry me.  Yes, we’re officially engaged.

You see, last year, I went to this really expensive work party at a local ryokan called “Saito.” A ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel. Saito was famous for it’s multi course meals and using Maesawa Beef , one of the most expensive and delicious meats in Japan. After I came back from the party, I told Akira about the food, and she instantly wanted to go and try it. I promised her that I would take her at some point, but I wasn’t committal about it. That is, until about three weeks ago.

I asked her if she had and free time during the weekend and I made the plans. She got really exciting about going.  What she didn’t know is that I was going to pop the question to her. On Saturday night, after we checked in, we went the baths to freshen up. When she came back to the room, that is what I asked her if she would marry me. I became the luckiest guy in the world when she answered, “Yes.”  I think that made the Maesawa steaks just a little more delicious.

So there you have it. Marriage plans are forthcoming. Stay tuned for details, and thanks for reading this blog, depsite the lack of update. I promise you that more is on the way.

Akira at Saito

Akira in a Japanese Ryokan (by jasohill)


Rainbow of Peace, originally uploaded by jasohill.

Hi everyone. I do apologize for the lack of blog updates. I’ve busy here in Japan and I realized that is has become so much like home for me that I don’t blog about it any longer. Well, I do intend to keep you updated on what is going on here a little more than I have been lately. To start off, I wanted to share with you a little milestone that occurred today.

You may remember my photo, “Rainbow of Peace.” I took it during my trip to Nagasaki in 2006. At the time I never thought it would be my most popular photo. I stood over the ground zero point at the memorial area and tried to get as many colors in the photo as I could. Once I got that photo on flickr, it took off and quickly became my most popular photo on flickr.

Well today, over two and a half years after I took it, “Rainbow of Peace” has surpassed the 15000 mark. I never though I would have a photo do that well. It’s certainly not my only successful photo on flickr, but it was the first to make me realize that I can take pictures that make people smile. It was the catalyst that lead to where I am today. On the road to a career as a pro.

I just wanted to thank everyone who helped make this photo the success it is today. I couldn’t get back to all of you, but I appreciate all the kind words you wrote for me and the photo.