Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved … Keep on the Sunny Side

Sunrise over HiroshimaThis year I am resolved to keeping on the sunny side of life.

I know some days will be more challenging than others but I am, nevertheless, committed to focusing on the positive and always keeping my eyes open for the cloud’s silver lining.

For if there is one thing I have learned during the past several years of intentioned self-discovery it is this: though we cannot change the past that has shaped us we can learn to control our responses to it. To me this means working to shift from the negative position of one who merely survives to learning to embrace life’s possibilities as one who thrives.

To illustrate I’ve chosen an image of the sun rising over a city that, from its own devastation, became a thriving modern metropolis — Hiroshima, Japan.

Thanks for visiting and Happy New Year!

Dorothy 🙂

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Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Capturing Deer … Nara, Japan

My photography doesn’t generally feature people. I don’t feel I have, particularly, the knack of capturing the human spirit. At least not yet.

Animals, however, fascinate me no end and so I often find myself lured into capturing them in digital. Horses, dogs, cats, birds, specifically, speak to me on a daily basis.

However, on a hot afternoon in October 2010, I had the good fortune to digitally capture some of the deer of Nara … and some of the images included their interactions with people. I was doubly blessed.

Centrally located Nara Park features many of Nara’s main attractions, including temples and museums. It ‘s also home to more than 1,000 deer who freely roam the park and the streets around it.

In Shinto deer are considered messengers of the gods. As a result they are treated as a national treasure.

For a small amount of money you can purchase deer crackers from street vendors in the park and feed the deer by hand. They are remarkably tame and will chase you down if they catch even whiff of food on you.

These images highlight moments that especially moved me and are special memories of our visit to beautiful Nara.

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Even I had a chance to get in front of the camera for a special moment with a baby …

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Miyajima Moments … Miyajima Island, Japan

Today, three images taken at Miyajima Island in Japan.

The first depicts the enormous Floating Otorii Gate at low tide when it’s possible to walk right to its base. When we arrived the tide was already starting to come in. It’s amazing how fast it advances.

The second shows the Floating Otorii Gate at high tide. We deliberately stayed to witness the sunset, along with hundreds of other tourists. It was quite the event, and we were so fortunate to be blessed with a clear sky.

And finally, stone lanterns captured against the backdrop of the setting sun.

It was such an atmospheric and beautiful place. I’m so glad we had a chance to visit. More images to follow in a future post.

Thanks for stopping by  …

Dorothy 🙂

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Sunset Over Lake Ashi … Hakone, Japan

While waiting at the bus station in Motohakone for transportation back to Hakone-Machi and the Fujiya Hotel I,  being the restless (or ever vigilant — whichever you prefer) shutterbug that I am wandered the nearby harbour in search of last minute captures before the sun disappeared behind the hills.

This golden rendering of the setting sun is my favourite image from that wait.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy 🙂

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

The Golden Pavilion … Kyoto, Japan

As you can see it was overcast and rainy when we visited the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto in October 2010. This, however, did not detract from its splendour.

The Golden Pavilion, also known as Kinkakuji, is one of Japan’s most famous, and beautiful, temples. It was originally built in1393 as a retirement villa for Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga whose intention it was to cover the exterior in gold leaf. He died before it was completed, and his son subsequently converted the building into a Zen temple.

Kinkakuji has burned to the ground and been rebuilt several times during its history. The current structure was built, true to the original, in 1950 and sports gold leaf as the Shogun had envisioned.

It certainly is an impressive sight.

Thank you for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Torii Gate at Meiji Jingu Shrine … Tokyo, Japan

While traveling I have found that meteorology really has very little do with whether or not I will have a good experience. Of course, it would be great if every day was temperate with clear skies and sunshine, but that’s not realistic nor does it necessarily make for good photography.

The only time I usually pay attention to the weather when travelling is while packing for the journey. Truthfully, however, I have found this to be somewhat of a crap shoot simply because invariably the forecast is wrong.

And so it was in Japan. We visited at the end of September 2010. I was expecting early fall weather … you know, temperate. And that’s what had been forecasted. But the gurus of meteorology got it wrong. My packing, therefore, was almost completely off and inadequate for the heat and humidity we were to experience during our two-week sojourn.

I did my best to make the most of these circumstances, trying not to be derailed by my frustration at having to wear the same few suitable articles of clothing the entire trip. (Is anything, while travelling, more infuriating than lugging around a suitcase full of clothes you can’t wear?)

I am not a clothes horse, but I do like to present myself well in public no matter where I am, so I can get a bit out of sorts when my efforts to be prepared have been thwarted.

Why not go shopping, you ask? Excellent question. The simple answer is that in Japan I, at 5ft 8in tall with an hourglass figure, could be considered a big woman. Sadly it was pointless to even think about shoring up my few summer togs in a country where the garments are made almost exclusively for the petite.

So, I worked with what I had and distracted myself from my wardrobe discomfiture by focusing on the camera.

These images of the Torii gate at the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo, were captured during heavy rains on a hot and humid day. It actually didn’t matter to me that it was raining. This natural element simply added an even more intimate and sacred aspect to the experience of being embraced by the forest.

I love the way the umbrellas in the first image seem to add a feeling of animation to the tourists walking through the gate.

Had the sun been shining I could not have captured this.

The fun part was figuring out how to handle an umbrella and a camera at the same time to the effective use of both.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Ropeway … Hakone, Japan

Getting on the Ropeway in Hakone to see Mount Fuji in all its conical splendour was a feat in itself for me when we visited 18 months ago. I don’t like heights or enclosed spaces, and at the time I was suffering panic attacks for inexplicable reasons. I didn’t need to create a reason to have such an attack thousands of feet above the valley floor. But, as mentioned in a previous post on my Fuji experience, it was either ride the Ropeway with my partner and friends or be left behind at our hotel.

So, arming myself with everything I thought I’d need to distract myself from the tyranny of anxiety, I embarked on as high above the Earth a journey as I’d ever experienced. And I managed it just fine.

The happy result is these, and other, images which remind me if I hadn’t stepped up I would have lost out.

What have you done to step out of your comfort zone while travelling. Let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for visiting …

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Renaissance … Sunrise Over Hiroshima, Japan

Before we arrived in Hiroshima for a short visit 18 months ago, I really didn’t know what to expect.

I was familiar enough with its history to know that August 6, 1945, was a terrible day in world history; that an ancient city had been obliterated in a matter of seconds during a time of great global madness and that thousands of innocents had lost their lives.

Once there, of course, I observed that Hiroshima had risen from its ashes and become a thoroughly modern city with a mission — to spread the message of peace.

This image taken of the sun rising behind the Chugoku mountains in the land of the rising sun reminds me that every day is a renaissance from the dark age of night. Over several decades Hiroshima has crawled from the depths of its own very dark age to shine as the bustling city it is today.

And now, a year since the horrifying earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukishima and surrounding areas, a country once again in crisis slowly starts a complicated, but hope-filled renaissance.

It is a renaissance we watch with interest. The fallout of what also became a nuclear event affects us all at some level, and some people more than others. In a world shrunken by the Internet and social media we are more connected than ever — in mind, body and spirit, and by the fallout this event is having on the planet we share.

It’s not just Japan struggling to rise from this dark night, we are all in this together.

It is worth remembering that the sun that rises over Hiroshima rises over us all.

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012 

Fujisan

I’ve travelled a lot in the past couple of years, and loved every minute of it … well almost every minute.

On the odd occasion I’ve been beset by attacks of anxiety in confined spaces, like narrow medieval castle stair passages and packed tourist buses. I’ve learned to cope by distracting myself with things like photography and tuning into soulful vocal stylings of my favourite Canadian singer/songwriter, Jacob Moon.

In Japan we had the opportunity to visit Mount Fuji. We stayed in the Fujiya Hotel in Hakone and decided, upon recommendation, that we would take the three-hour ropeway circuit to view Mount Fuji.

Prior to our departure to Japan I’d been having severe panic attacks (which I now have under control) and so was quite nervous about sitting in a gondola suspended hundreds of feet above the mountains just so I could have a view of a volcano that may or may not make an appearance, depending on the weather.

However, if I didn’t go with Lloyd and our travel companions, Ben and Kea from The Netherlands, I would be left forever wondering “what if?”

So, I mustered myself — packed my iPod, my camera, my chewing gum and Rescue Remedy, and joined them for the pilgrimage to view Fujisan.

A shorter bus ride would have taken us to our destination just as well, but where’s the fun in that? The ropeway circuit includes the mountain train to the cable car; the cable car to the ropeway; the ropeway to the pirate ship highlighted in a previous blog and the pirate ship across Lake Ashi to Hakone-Machi where this shot was taken.

I’m pleased to write that I self-managed my way through the circuit quite effectively, even managing, at one point, to stand in the gondola and look down into the valley plunging below us. Once I got used to the experience I actually enjoyed it.

This may not be the most exciting image of Fuji you’ll ever see, but it reminds me that had I not taken what was for me a bold step toward addressing my fear of heights and enclosed spaces I wouldn’t have witnessed Fuji in its glory on what turned out to be the only clear day of our sojourn in Hakone. This is a minute I loved.

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Floating Torii Gate … Myajima Island, Japan

During our trip to Japan in September 2010 we visited Myajima Island, home to the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine and its Floating Torii Gate. The Shrine is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I really had no idea what to expect. We’d researched it; looked at photos, but the scale of it was really beyond comprehension until we actually stood at its enormous feet.

At low tide you can walk right out to it and tuck a coin into a crack in its legs and make a wish. Because it was mid-afernoon when we arrived and the tide was already advancing we couldn’t get that close. By sunset the 16m gate was up to its camphor wood knees in water. This is when it became “floating.”

This particular gate has been in place since 1875, but there has been one of some description here since 1168. To me, again, the enormity of it is another invitation to look up and be marvelled.

I’m so glad we were able to see nature frame the torii gate in its floating splendour. It was another amazing moment in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012