Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




“Churaumi”(beautiful ocean)voyage with a drone around Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa


Charms of Japan

This is a TV program that broadcasted by NHK last summer (2018). I recorded and watch it repeatedly. The program showed 10-day sea kayak voyage of 230 kilometers by Satoru Yahata, a marine adventurer, from Ishigaki Island, via Kohama Island and Iriomote Island to Yonaguni Island, with a drone. The sparkling ocean is breathtaking.


Yahata was born in Tokyo, but moved to Ishigaki Island 15 years ago. Now he lives with his family in the island. His way of talking on the TV program was gentle, which was different from the image that crossed the sea by a kayak from Australia to Japan, and it gave a clue to his mild personality.


The ocean around the Yaeyama Islands is very clear. Yahata said that sometimes he could see all the way to the bottom of the sea at a depth of 30-40 meters. The scene where Yahata experienced a traditional fish-catching method in Kohama Island was impressive as well. The fisherman appeared in the program had a muscular build naturally created by years of fishing. Yahata was impressed with the fisherman’s skill that stabbing only fish head with a fishing spear at once. Because fish body must not be damaged to sell them.


In Iriomote Island, Yahata climbed to Mayagusuku Fall, which he said it’s the most beautiful fall in the Iriomote Island. Mayagusuku means wildcats’ castle in Okinawan language. He passed through a jungle for about few hours and he sometimes had to burn a leech that stuck to his leg. To get to the fall, a hidden scenic spot, you need to apply for entering the route, and it is not easily accessible without a guide. The image from above taken by drones was really amazing.


The final destination, Yonaguni Island, which was once said to be difficult to get there because the open sea is rough. Yahata left the Iriomote Island at 4:30 in the early morning and finally managed to arrive at the Yonaguni Island at 19:50 by sunset. So he kept rowing for 15 hours. When he was hungry, he ate a rice ball. It was a hard crossing that when he was about to get heatstroke, he soaked in the seawater to cool down his body and started to row again.


The program was repeated recently. If it will be repeated again, please watch it. You will surely feel comforted with the refreshing images. (H.S)


Yahata stands on the big coral in the sea of Shiraho, Ishigaki Island. The coral seems to be about 300 years old. Its upper part is dry and hard, so it’s okay to stand on. (Generally, you must not step or touch corals.)


The sea of Yaeyema from a drone.
Yahata’s kayak looks small.


Yahata is kayaking.


[Video] Kayaking in Iriomote Island (5’50”)
In the beginning, Yahata is giving a tutorial on paddling.

“A sloping path in Trieste” written by Atsuko Suga



Atsuko Suga (1929-1998) was an essayist and a scholar of Italian literature. When she was young, she lived in Italy for more than ten years, studied Italian language and worked on translation of Italian literature. She married to Italian Giuseppe in 1961 but Giuseppe passed away suddenly several years later and she returned to Japan. After that, she taught at universities.


Trieste, located in the northeastern area of Italy on Italy-Slovenia border, is a port town with a population of about 200,000. The essay “A sloping path in Trieste” is written about when she visited Trieste alone to trace Italian poet Umberto Saba’s footsteps.


Following are excerpts from the essay.
“No matter how long way to go, I will walk without use of vehicles. It was one of the few self-imposed rules that day. I want to just walk as Saba always walked. “
“Why do I keep attaching my mind to Saba for so many years? Am I trying to overlap memories of my husband who died on a June night twenty years ago?”


The current book store that Umberto Saba ran.
The photo is from a blog: https://note.com/alberocooking


Since medieval times, Trieste had been belonged to Austria, but after the First World War, it became Italy’s territory in 1919. Trieste was a peculiar city culturally as well, they had mixed feelings of respect and hatred toward the culture and the people of Vienna. But they continued to admire Italy linguistically and racially. The double nature has made the identity of the people of Trieste complicated. Suga also wrote that the houses in the city were Austrian style rather than Italian.


In Italy, a major tourism destination, Trieste is an unknown, outlying city that affected by history. Suga wrote, “As I walked down a slope, nearby houses looked unexpectedly poor and aging.” And, I also wanted to walk the nameless slope. Suga’s writing style that is quiet, unwavering solid makes me feel nostalgic for the strange city, Trieste. (H.S)



[Video] ETV special | Atsuko Suga-Reminiscence of foggy Italy-Writer who lived in freedom and solitude-Suga’s rare natural voice is from 56’16”.

Eye-opening experience of soldering


Production notes

I have recently started soldering to remodel toy drones and to make racing drones by myself. It might be the first time that I used a soldering iron since I was in junior high school.


I've been doing it on my own way for a while, but one day I learned that there was the right soldering method from a book. And last week, I participated in a "Soldering workshop" by Masaharu Nose, the author of the book I read. The workshop was held in Shiga Prefecture neighboring Fukui Prefecture, so I could go there easily.


Until then, I thought that soldering was melting solder with a soldering iron and bonding two terminals, or terminals and lead wires with the melted solder. However, I found it was completely different.


The correct method is to use a soldering iron to heat base materials such as terminals and lead wires, and apply solder there to instill. And the appearance of the result is quite different accordingly. It was actually an eye-opening experience for me to know the strong and beautiful soldering method.


Ugly soldering that I did before


First soldering that I did in the right way


By the end of the workshop, I tried delicate soldering to install these small parts.


Fallen autumn leaves at Enkouji Temple in Kyoto


Kyoto and Nara

When I went to Osaka the other day, I stopped at Kyoto and visited a temple to see the remains of autumn foliage. The temple that I visited is Enkouji Temple located in Sakyo Ward. Shisendo and Manshuin Temple are also nearby. The foliage season has almost finished and there were not many tourists, so I could enjoy a Kyoto-like atmosphere on a fine winter’s day. (H.S)


The spacious garden was covered with fallen autumn leaves like a carpet.


The contrast between the green moss and the autumn leaves was brilliant.


Viewing the garden through a window of the exhibit room


Gorgeous sliding panel paintings in the main hall


There was a suikinkutsu (a device that generates a sound like harp with drops of water) and I heard the clean sound.


The Enkouji Temple is a Zen temple, so it has a zazen room and they have zazen session every Sunday morning. They teach beginners simply. (reservation required)


Cute stone statue with a red maple leave on its head


I was still able to enjoy the autumn leaves.

The world's only in-airport winery "Osaka Airport Winery"



This time, I departed from Itami Airport (Osaka International Airport) to Ishigaki Island via Naha. Actually, at the Itami Airport, there is the world's only winery at an airport. The winery "Osaka Airport Winery" also has a wine bar. So, I went to the airport early and stopped at the winery to have lunch.


The appearance of the winery and bar


Inside the bar
You can enjoy wine and Italian cuisine with a view of the brewing tanks.


Red wine made on-premises (rough filtered)
It was Concord, so I was afraid it was a bit sweet but wasn't and delicious, fresh and fruity. They offer white wines including Chardonnay.


They serve various dishes to go with wine, which are large portions.


They sell wine as a souvenir. The bottles are accented with ITM (the three letter code for the Itami Airport). They also show the wine maker’s name Shigehiro Teruya.


The central commercial area is currently going through major renovations and many new shops and restaurants will open in the summer of 2020. (H.S)