First Set of Photos from Japan Posted

I posted a dozen or so photos from our first full day in Kyoto on my flickr page here. These were taken during a walk from the Yasaka Shrine up to the large statue of Kannon and across to Kiyomizudera. It’s a long walk and it involves hills, steep stairs, and throngs of tourists and school children, but it’s a beautiful area. Since we’ve been through it before I was trying to take pictures of things I hadn’t photographed previously, and/or things of interest other than the main attractions. read more

Heading Home

We’re packing up and checking out of the hotel shortly, beginning the long haul back to home. I haven’t been blogging much not because we haven’t been having a good time; on the contrary, I suppose I haven’t been blogging much because we have been having a good time. Yesterday we took a local train to the Arashiyama area in Kyoto, a part of town we haven’t visited previously. We went to a large temple there (whose name currently escapes me–I’ll post it later) whose gardens currently have a dazzling array of blooming azaleas. Tracie was photographed by no less than six Japanese tourists while perched on the veranda of the temple overlooking the koi pond. They asked for permission first, of course. read more

East Versus West

Everything you need to know about Japanese and Western toilets, explained in one handy sign found in a restroom in Heian-Jingu shrine:

IMG 0280

Oddly enough, this particular restroom didn’t even have a Western-style toilet. I guess it was a general-purpose public-service sort of sign.

Heian-Jingu was one of the places we visited on our first trip to Japan but haven’t been back until yesterday. The sakura were spectacular. I think we caught them just past their peak because the pink color was somewhat less saturated than when we saw them in 2007, but that’s just an observation, not a quibble. I took a bunch of photos but may not get around to posting many until after the trip. read more

Happiness is…

IMG 0184

…two new modular origami books by Tomoko Fuse, Unit Origami Wonderland and Unit Origami Fantasy. They’re the same format and layout as Unit Origami Essence, which I picked up here last year. As far as I know they’re not available in English, although I did run across Japanese versions of a couple of her books which I have in English editions.

Random Bits

It’s 5:21AM Kyoto time and I’m more alert than I was at around 7:00PM yesterday when I wrote the previous post. I thought I’d post some random observations before we head out for the day. There’s a show on TV that seems to be about the handwriting practices of the elderly, or about some sort of social club for the literate elderly, or possibly about elderly people who enjoy both handwriting and doing laundry.

The TV programming seems to have fewer strange (strange to Western eyes, anyway) game shows on than usual. It could be that we’re not finding the right channels, but I suspect it has more to do with a general edict from the government that people observe “self-restraint”, i.e. some amount of sombre respect for the tens of thousands lost in the tsunami. This was described in a recent J-List mailing, and I have to agree with the author that it’s not a good idea. Yes, it is entirely appropriate to show respect for the departed and the displaced, but on the other hand Japan has some serious economic challenges on its hands, and it’s not going to help the economy at all if people are sitting at home trying to be respectful rather than out spending money in restaurants and on consumer goods. read more

Greetings from Kyoto

We’re in Japan for our yearly vacation. Our original plans, made nearly a year ago, involved spending about 2.5 weeks here. We were going to spend about a week in Tokyo, a few days in Kobe, and another week in Kyoto. Then, as you may have heard, there was a big earthquake, a tsunami, and a still-unresolved mess involving several damaged nuclear power plants. That started on March 11 and we were scheduled to fly to Tokyo on March 31. Skipping over the details, we eventually decided to shorten the trip and spend a week in Kyoto, which is 300 miles away from Fukushima and hence unaffected by aftershocks, power outages, and ongoing concerns about radiation leaks and other unfortunate events. read more

Audio Damage 2.0


As Chris announced today on his blog, Audio Damage is branching out. Specifically we’re starting to design and manufacture modules for the Euro-Rack modular synthesizer format. Our first product will be a 2-in/2-out USB1.1 class-compliant audio interface. It’s compatible with the iPad, so you can use it to conveniently add just about any iPad audio app to your Euro-Rack modular rig. Of course it will also work with a laptop or desktop computer. Hence you can use it as a convenient way to route audio between your DAW (or other audio software) and your modular. It also has DC-coupled outputs so you can use it to control your modular with software like the Silent Way suite from Expert Sleepers or Volta by MOTU, or by generating signals via your own devising with something like Max/MSP or Reaktor. read more