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Historical Nagasaki

When many Westerners think of Nagasaki, they think only of the second A-Bomb.  Although that’s an important part of Nagasaki’s history, its earlier history of contact with the outside world is far more interesting and engaging.  For around two and a half centuries (roughly 1600s to 1850s), Nagasaki was the only place in all of Japan where foreigners were allowed to visit, and even then it was extremely limited.  The Dutch were allotted a postage stamp sized artificial island in the harbour called Dejima. (more…)

Hakodate

Hakodate is a city on the southern coast of Hokkaido, which used to be a 19th century trading port.  There remain foreign influences throughout the city, most visibly in the way of of colonial era buildings.   When Commodore Perry succeeded in opening up some trading ports in Japan, Hakodate was one of them.  It’s also a very scenic city, so the setting of old western-style buildings overlooking the harbour is a key city feature.

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Ada Tree & the timber tramways

When I was back in Australia for the Christmas/New Year break, my Dad and I had a day up in the tall timber mountain ash forest east of Melbourne, at one of our favourite locations – the Ada Tree and the surrounding forest that was once home to sawmills and timber tramway lines in the 1930s.  The remnants of the sawmilling days are rusting and rotting away in the forest, accompanied by some lyrebirds and trillions of little leeches.  We heard the lyrebirds while the leeches ate us. (more…)

Last night in Hong Kong

Nuri’s gone, the weather is clear again, and I’ve just had a nice dinner out with Kana and Jimmy. I caught the second last Star Ferry for the night across from Kowloon to Central, then the tram back to Wan Chai. If the ferry is the best AUD0.70 ride in the world, surely trundling through Wan Chai on the upper deck of a wooden tram for AUD0.65 is not far behind. (more…)

Old Tokyo tram

Even Tokyo takes pride in its old tramways. This is a museum piece marking the site of an old line in Bunkyo-ku, near Ueno. (more…)