I'm Wits Toopid

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times…

Posts tagged ‘Gion’

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I’m clearing all this shite out of my room this week cause when I return I’ll most probably be purchasing a house. As always with a big clearout the task becomes a naustalgiafest and I end up spending hours sitting in a pile of dirt and dust and mess and looking through photos I have taken and stuff that I have written since 1992.

Thinking back like this is always a rose tinted affair. Life is always perfect, summers always sunnier. You always remember your shit smelling of butterflies and icecream, lolipops and bullshit.

But this time it’s also getting me excited with anticipation. In three weeks (to this day) I set off on a 5 week trip to Japan, Sydney, Perth and Hong Kong.” – Me, Sept 2009

…and so it began. In 2009 I started a blog to follow my adventures as I travelled Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. After I returned I gave up for a while but decided to take it up again last year and used it as an outlet and excuse for my burgeoning career as a full time spare time amateur photographer.

In honour of my 200th post. Here are my personal top 10 blog posts:


There is a warped majesty to the role of the Geisha in Japan; a bent honor. Sometimes considered an honored courtisan though sometimes there seems a feeling that seedier deeds are afoot, the Geisha of Kyoto, their home base of Pontocho, are masterful in their secrecy. They avoid the stare of the hunting public, dipping in and out of the tiny Pontocho sidestreets.

A freshly bought camera in hand, I spent one late evening stalking their shadows through the streets of Kyoto.

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– Hello?
– Hello…
*still silence*

When you answer the house phone at this time of the day on a weekday and get this long a silence it can only mean one thing; that douchey Indian “PC repair” phone scam lot are calling again…

Some people get angry at call centre scams… I just get even…

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There was no way of me knowing that within a month of me leaving Egypt in December of 2010, the Arab Spring uprising would have millions take to the streets and Tahir Square to rise up against the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but on my last day in Cairo I witnessed, from my hotel balcony, a protest taking place against the results of an election that had happened just a week ago. A snapshot of Egypt as it lightly tore at it seams, ready to burst a month later…

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I see this bargain bin as I’m making my way to the peace memorial in Hiroshima. 300 Yen is about Euro 3.75 so I set myself a challenge, to pick out the best worst 5 CD’s that I could find in the bin. Competition was high but eventually I managed to wittle it down to these few choices.

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In May of 1935 my grandad, in his late 20’s at the time, braved the waters and travelled from Dublin to London to witness the Silver Jubilee celebrations of King George V. The photographs that he took of the event are an amazing snapshot of pre-World War II London. 77 years later I moved to London to live here, strangely marked by the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elisabeth II. I decided to take to the streets to hunt down the locations of my Grandad’s 1935 photographs.

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A thick, rolling, rasping voice drags like melodic brick on concrete from the back of his throat. She flicks her hair, sweeps her hips, hiking her skirt, carefully torn fishnet tights, revealing just enough leg to send me to heaven.

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The quiet shuffle of the early morning set against an empty pale blue sky. Shopkeepers standing on their purches set against the empty streets of stone and house’ of wood and wash the stoop, first they carefully brush up any litter or leaves before a simple green hose from its constant purch next to the door and then, if needed, any details that need cleaning are tended to individually with a bucket and sponge…

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Everyone likes a good carnival, especially if you want some good photos, but, in Notting Hill’s cultureclashed yearly festival the festive plumage of the parade belies a more nihilistic anti-establishment freedom in the backstreets. Despite the strong police presence there is a feeling that if anything did kick off there is little that they actually could do; 11,000 officers and a couple of hundred thousand people in a maze of small streets. We dance on the precipice of anarchy…

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A motley crew of international ne’er-do-wells. A Japanese guy; crazy and happy; constantly (maybe?) drunk and with just enough a lack of English for hilarity to ensue. An Australian family with their daughter and her British boyfriend (about to do a stint in the army). A slightly hippieish couple from San Francisco. A very down to earth (are they ever not?) Canadian husband and wife; taking a break from their smalltown internet company to tick off a “must do” from the bucket list. An English guy; aspiring Geography teacher; come to learn a little about what he’ll be teaching. An Argentinian girl, but living in America, with a distinctly Irish name. And of course a geekish Irish mid-to late twentysomething lad with a penchant for the over-imagination. Place them all in Egypt, sailing down the Nile in a traditional felucca sailboat with their happy-go-lucky Egyptian tour guide and a couple of locals to help out and you have the perfect recipe for a horribly awful monster-disaster movie…

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By far one of my favorite highlights on my trip to Tokyo was my night in the Tokyo Cavern Club, a 7 days a week Beatles Tribute Bar in Roppongi, dressed in immaculate 60’s vintage style and full to the brim with beaming Japanese fans, the band admitted to not speaking any English so learning the lyrics to Beatles tracks orally. This lead to a fantastically crazy sound…

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I spent only a couple of hours in Kyotos Gion district before moving on to Hiroshima but in those quiet quaint backstreets discovered some of the most beautiful little moments of my entire trip to Japan.

Here is a little study of just some of those sights in black and white and yellow.

If you like these please check out my most beautiful Japan adventures:

My Army of the Monkey Undead
In Search of Geisha
Don’t Fucking Climb Miyajima
and some of the more fun and/or interesting ones:

Groovin Disk Bargain Basement Top 5
I’m in Love with a Rockabilly Chick
A Beatles Tribute Act at the Cavern Club, Tokyo
A Tuesday Stroll Through Tokyo, Just Some Things I See.


The quiet shuffle of the early morning set against an empty pale blue sky. Shopkeepers standing on their purches set against the empty streets of stone and house’ of wood and wash the stoop, first they carefully brush up any litter or leaves before a simple green hose from its constant purch next to the door and then, if needed, any details that need cleaning are tended to individually with a bucket and sponge.

The sun is low and in the eyes and the air is cool but with potential. The trickle of school kids with the odd bentback old lady in traditional gear are pretty much the only movers on the streets at this time. They wander whistfully, unaware of the scenic beauty of their surroundings.

A pretty young schoolgirl passes me unawares, lost in a song and a world of innocence and oblivion. She sings and skips through the winding thin stone streets. On her back a bright red schoolbag and, hanging neatly, a tidy cloth bag containing (what I assume is) her lunch. She stops, turning briefly towards a seemingly shoddy thrown together wooden shrine, and bows ever so slightly. Brief turn back and returns to her song. Another schoolboy now, bustling, hurried and trying to tidy his morning hairdo, flattening with the palms of his hands.

I stop at a morning cafe that serves breakfast of coffee, soy milk, salad, eggs bacon and, yes, hotdog for breakfast too. I sit out in the sun and watch the people moving with a view of the little streets and the green green mountains behind.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it took me five minutes to walk here I would have assumed that it was a country town and not the centre of a massive bustling city. It is 8.40 by now and I am planning to be back in the hostel for 9, to get a move on to my next port of call. Kyoto has been all too brief but I really must move on.