TODA FIREWORKS FESTIVAL

One of the best firework shows I have been to....... ever!

Toda, which is located on the river border-line between Tokyo and Saitama prefectures, put on an amazing display of fireworks as part of the Summer celebrations.

We decided to book tickets, as the crowd expected was an enormous number. We secured a small grassy spot in the roped off area and enjoyed the classic balmy summer sunset, with a soft breeze breaking the 34degree humid conditions. 

I guess I don't have much to compare this firework event against, except the odd agricultural show in Australia or a NYE event. Most of these Australian events stop at about the 20min mark with the organisers boasting $x million spent of fireworks. Well.... this Japanese show went for 1.5 hours with the detailed pamphlet not only giving a timeline of each firework shape and type, but claiming in excess of 15,000 seperate firework rockets to light up the sky.

I couldn't think of a better way to sit back and enjoy a hot summer night, and about 200,000 people had the same idea with both sides of the river completely crowded. 

I have to mention the efficiency of clearing the crowd after the event. The enormous line of people slowly marched towards the one train station in town without ever stopping. When at the station it was extremely busy, but we were loaded onto a train and sent home in about 10 min of reaching the station. 

The wife says that there are even better events in Tokyo, but I out this down as my best fireworks experience ever.

THE URBAN-CASUAL WARRIOR

With new additions of socks to add to the SIRSOCK.com range, a photoshoot was in order! 

I decided to use the Melbourne CBD as the backdrop, choosing some iconic locations and taking photos to blur the tourist happy snaps out of them.

The range was Autumn - Winter and it true Melbourne style.... Sunny and 28c degrees. 

Photoshoots for socks usually consist of feet, in all different poses and angles. This time I was lucky to have a model that was willing to try some new poses, with the challenge of not taking too much attention from the socks.

Adjusting the filters for the sunny day we had, I tried to incorporate lots of blues, greys, and shadow. Trying to give a hit of season change. It was also my first time using a sun reflector, which was a great idea due to most of the alley ways we shot it were so dark.

Overall a great shoot using the Nikon d750, Sigma 50mm, & a sun reflector. Additional shots can be seen on the dedicated gallery of this website by clicking here

Also make sure to check out the new range at SIRSOCK.com

- TA

VALE ROSS HANNAFORD

On the 8th of March 2016, Ross peacefully passed with his loved ones by his side.

A graveside service was held in Blackwood, Victoria which saw many family, friends, and musical colleagues attend to pay their respects and remember Ross's involvement in their lives.

Stories were told, passages were read, and music was played, keeping formalities to a minimum just as Ross would have preferred. 

The rolling sounds of 'Pharoah Sanders - The great creator has a master plan' was played as per Ross's last request, a perfect setting as all said their last goodbye with a showering of flower petals.

As tributes still flow in from many fans and followers of Ross, I urge everyone to visit his website by clicking the photo above. Listen to his final album, view the beautiful photography, or treat yourself to one of his musical treasures from the online store. 

Vale Ross Hannaford

1950 - 2016


JAPAN'S COFFEE AFICIONADO

The coffee culture in Japan has changed. Long gone are the days of push button, multi-chain outlets serving large long blacks.

Japan entered a new period of coffee perfectionism, while the rest of the world was growing hipster moustaches and sipping piccolo lattes. Well its time to 'wake up and smell the coffee' so to speak, as some of the finest roasts and specialist brew equipment is flowing from the land of the rising sun. 

Dark roasted coffee.
I bought my favourite cup!
Perfect for summer.

Was that a Haiku?.. Well maybe in english at least... 

Two things are hard to explain to people who haven't travelled to Japan; 

1. What a Haiku is, and 2. Where on earth I got that coffee gadget on my kitchen bench.

I was doing exactly that, searching for a particular coffee item I had purchased from Japan when I stumbled across Mecca... an online store called KURASU.

Image is property of Kurasu.me and reproduced from their website with permission.

Image is property of Kurasu.me and reproduced from their website with permission.

Meet Yozo Otsuki, coffee aficionado of Japan and the founder of KURASU. Established in 2013 as a Japanese homewares store, Otsuki san followed his expertise and passion to focus on being a merchant of fine coffee and Japanese-made coffee equipment.

Otsuki san's belief in Japanese coffee is comparable to the samurai Sakamoto Ryoma, in which he wants to change the 'closed' Japanese coffee culture and allow the world to enjoy the beauty, simplicity, and precision of Japanese-made coffee equipment. This strong desire has ultimately led to an online store that shares the same philosophy. The products available on KURASU are uniquely Japanese and are both functional and ready to exhibit beautifully in any kitchen.

Image is property of Kurasu.me and reproduced from their website with permission.

Image is property of Kurasu.me and reproduced from their website with permission.

The Japanese have really taken their traditional 'pour-over' / filtered coffee to the next level, and I assume that it is a natural fit to the Japanese spirit - the pursuit to become a master in creating the god-cup (the perfect cup that you may search your whole life for).

With the perfect tools in the cart, and ready to test your Samurai spirit, one needs the best coffee to brew. KURASU also has this covered with a monthly coffee subscription service available. Otsuki san turns connoisseur and takes subscribers on a journey through Japan, featuring some of the best artisan roasters in the World. His focus again is to open the borders and let the world experience the craftsmanship, the people, the precision, and techniques of Japanese coffee roasters. Otsuki san's passion is evident, with a detailed story on each coffee selection provided exclusively to the members.

I have subscribed, and by looking at some of the customer pictures on Instagram I must say I'm pretty excited for next month to come. 

As a sensible student, I reached out to the Sensei of coffee - Otsuki san, to ask what his favourite method of making coffee is;

"My favourite method is the filter / pour over method which is related to most of the equipment we sell at Kurasu. Filter coffee has had a long and unique history in Japan and brewing pour-over coffee in ones home is very common, as my mom would do this for me and my family growing up"  

Image is property of Kurasu.me and reproduced from their website with permission.

Image is property of Kurasu.me and reproduced from their website with permission.

I am glad I found KURASU and I appreciate the philosophy they have in bringing these unique products out into the world for all coffee lovers to enjoy. 

Perfect drip coffee
From roaster to my filter
Kurasu thank you

Was that another Haiku?..


KURASU - Japanese Coffee Equipment

Ships from Japan - Worldwide

www.kurasu.me

KRIMPER CAFE - MELB

Last week head office called for my attendance, which wasn't too bad as I get to spend a little time wandering my old turf in the CBD.

After the business had been completed I decided to visit a cafe I read about in one of my little coffee books on the shelf at home. In true Melbourne style I went for the laneway, warehouse, hipster type of haunt that is written about on multiple blogs by folks that know their coffee intimately.

KRIMPER cafe, you didn't disappoint.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 10.00.36 PM.jpg

Tucked on the backstreet of Guilford Lane in Melbourne's CBD, this little gem was my stop for the afternoon. I sat away in the corner and ordered a house blend long black. The decor inside features all the industrial warehouse classics with mismatched furniture and exposed beams to complete the rustic magazine like look. The service was very attentive and prompt, and I had my coffee in no time.

The coffee? Delicious... A rich roast by Proud Mary, with a perfectly layered espresso crema on top of the long black. They also have a range of filtered coffees and cold brew.

Whilst ordering my second coffee it was interesting to people watch, with a steady stream of city dwellers, office workers, and everyday people wandering the street, coming in and knocking back a few short blacks and a cake. Unfortunately I didn't order food this time as I was two coffees deep and didn't want to lose the buzz. 

I recommend dropping in and trying their goods, take the afternoon off though.


KRIMPER

20 Guilford Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000

www.krimper.com.au

TOKYO THROUGH THE EYES OF A SMARTPHONE

A family member convinced me to download another app for my iPhone before my last journey to Japan. He mentioned its one of the best photography programs he has used.

The app is called VSCO and is free to download on the Australian Apple Store. Possibly free on other world stores as well. The app looks like your everyday smartphone camera, but the horsepower comes from VSCO's intimate knowledge of photography. They have very expensive programs and plugins for computers & mac. 

Image by   Nariaki Matsuura

When I was searching for inspiration before taking my own camera into the Japanese streets, I made sure to visit the Tokyo section of VSCO. This is where users of the VSCO app upload their photos, mostly all taken on iPhones which is truely amazing.

The VSCO website also has a large range of other subjects, so a simple search can lead you to a gallery of stunning images from around the world.

Image by  Gus Lacson

Image by Gus Lacson

Quite a few photos I have uploaded in my latest round of travel were taken with an iPhone and tweaked using VSCO, see if you can spot them. 

I also recommend taking a look at the Tokyo gallery link posted below.


*Images on this blog entry are those of the listed owners.