Sunday, June 19, 2016

Kamakura Sanzagaike: easy hiking trail

Kamakura was one of the first places I visited in Japan. Since then I have been several times in Kamakura, including last month when I walked the Nagoe kiredooshi pass.

Today I walked another nice trail that started near the Sanzagaike forest park (散在が池森林公園). Here are the details of the route. Go to Oofuna's JR station (大船駅) and take the bus towards Kamakura lake (鎌倉湖畔ゆき) at platform 5. Get off at the Imaizumi fudou (今泉不動) bus stop. Then, follow my GPS log (use Google earth to see the log in context) which will eventually lead you to an Italian restaurant not too far from JR Kamakura station (sorry, I didn't log the last segment but you can guess it from the map), the final destination.

Perhaps the main attraction of the route, especially if you travel in June, is the wide diversity of flowers you will see. Lillies (ユリ), Magnolias, and particularly Hortensias (アジサイ) are really abundant and popular.

There are also lots of harmless little animals to see such as beetles or lizards; and a wide variety of birds singing all the time. If you live in Tokyo this is a nice one-day trip for escaping from the daily routine.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Nagoe Kiridooshi pass

A few days ago I joined a beautiful walk between the cities of Kamakura (鎌倉市) and Zushi (逗子市). The route follows ancient paths with man-made carved cliffs (大切岸 ookirigishi) and passageways (切通 kiridooshi) that used to protect the Kamakura shogunate. In particular, the route passes by the Nagoe-kiridoshi (名越切通), one of the seven major passageways that still remains close to its original form. Another interesting spot is the so-called Mandara-dou Yagura-gun (まんだら堂やぐら群), a group of cave-tombs carved into a clif.

Even if you are not interested in its historical value, the route has a lot more to offer. The beauty of its paths, the variety of trees and the smell of the Japanese wisteria flowers (beginning of May) are all worth the walk.

I have prepared a file containing the route I walked: nagoe-kiridoshi-pass.kmz. The file can be opened in Google earth or converted to your favourite GPS file format. The route starts and ends in Kamakura station. First, get on any of the following buses (you can walk instead): JR bus (platform 5) or Keihin buses no. 23, 24 and 36. Make sure your bus stops at Jōmyō-ji (浄明寺), the bus stop where you want to get off. Near the bus stop there should be a Spanish restaurant called La Casita. If you find it then you are on the good track. Then, just follow the route described in the .kmz file. There may be a few mistakes in the file, but I think it's mostly accurate. The route includes marks for the major spots, and suggestions for having lunch by the sea or for taking a break at a nice cafe (Hoa cafe) that serves delicious donuts. You can see some more pictures here and here.

24h de la bande dessinee 2016

This year I also participated in the "24h de la bande dessinee" event. The goal of this event is to make 24 pages of comic in 24 hours. The topic is decided every year when the event starts. These are the pages I made this year (translation to English here).

Naoki Urasawa's original comic art exhibition

Last March I visited Naoki Urasawa's "Draw, draw and draw" (描いて描いて描きまくる) exhibition at Setagaya Literary Museum (世田谷文学館).

I have been a fan of Urasawa-sensei since I imported the first 2 volumes of his comic Monster from Japan at the age of 17. At the time I couldn't read Japanese but I was lucky to get a translation to the Spanish language from a friend. A year later the series was finally published in Spain and I enjoyed every single page.

The exhibition was absolutely amazing and displayed lots of original comic art from Urasawa's masterpieces such as Monster, Pluto, Happy, Yawara, 20th century boys, Billy bat, or Master keaton. Pictures were not allowed, but you can see what it looked like from here, from here, from Urasawa's twitter account, from Setagaya literary museum's twitter account, or just by searching for 浦沢直樹展 on google images.

Urasawa recently became a TV star thanks to his wonderful program Manben (漫勉), a made up word that combines the first kanji for MANga (comic) and BENkyo (study). In each episode, Urasawa records and interviews a rather famous Japanese comic artist. You can watch Manben online.