Category Archives: Japan

End of Summer

The last days of summer 2018 in Shiga Prefecture have been mostly cloudy, with quite a bit of rain and very little sunshine. Whenever it was not raining too hard, I went out with a camera most days September 11-19, 2018.

September 11 – insects in a garden, Yasugawa, nearby fields

Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ) in a neighbor’s garden attract many butterflies, moths, bees, and other insects.

Yasugawa has been running high but not at flood levels.

Late in the afternoon local farmers were hurrying to harvest their rice before rain the following day.

September 14 – Takano

As soon as the rain stopped in mid afternoon, I walked to Takano Park, just a few minutes from my house. Along the way neighbors’ flowers caught my attention.

In Takano Park a few small creatures appeared after the rain.

September 15 – Yasugawa riverbank, fields in Deba

Scilla scilloides flowers(Barnardia japonica, ツルボ) have begun to bloom along the Yasugawa riverbank. Other flowers grow nearby.

Great egrets and grey herons hunt for fish nearby in the river. Most days a few of these large birds can be seen in nearby fields.

September 16 – Yasugawa riverbank

In late afternoon I was able to take only a few photos along the river before I got rained out.

September 17 – Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden

Kusatsu City Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森) is one of my favorite places. It’s a short drive from my home and usually not too crowded.

On September 17th a large display of Canna flowers stood near the entrance in front of the fountain.

A large number of water lilies are in ponds,

an outdoor tank,

and the Atrium.

Quite a few flowers were blooming in various outdoor locations.

Giant Hibiscus ‘titanbicus’ were blooming near the entrance.

September 18 – Yasu City

The sun appeared now and then as I rode my mountain bike across the river to Yasu City and up Oyamakawa to Sakura Ryokuchi Park. Along the way I stopped to photograph red spider lilies along rice paddies.

September 19 – Rokujizo and Misono

Sunshine! I rode my mountain bike south from my home in Ritto City, first nearby to Rokujizo, where we can see several varieties of flowers in the neighborhood and along Hayamagawa.

Up the valley in Misono red spider lilies bloom along the terraced fields.

In Kamitoyama I saw some globe amaranth flowers in a small garden. As I was admiring the flowers, a painted lady butterfly appeared.

I often see a grey heron at Konzegawa in Misono on my way home. The bird ignores me when I pass along the bike path. If I stop nearby, it flies.

In late summer and early fall rural Japan changes dramatically. Various flowers bloom, colorful butterflies and moths become very active when the weather permits, and fields become empty as farmers harvest their rice. Sometimes it seems gloomy, but even when the sky is dark, there is always something to see if we take time to look closely.

Rain Lilies

In our garden several varieties of rain lilies (Zephyranthes, ゼフィランサス) bloom from early June through September. I enjoy looking at them each morning, but I had not fully appreciated their beauty until I watched them in the rain.

In addition to the sound of rain hitting my umbrella, I used the most appropriate rain music I could find, “Rains Will Fall” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com).

White rain lily (Zephyranthes candida, タマスダレ)

Rosy rain lily (Zephyranthes rosea, ゼフィランサス・ロゼア)

Yellow rain lily (Zephyranthes flavissima,
ゼフィランサス・フラビッシマ)

Pink rain lily (Zephyranthes carinata, サフランモドキ)

Notes

The video clip and most photos were shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and two Olympus M. Zuiko lenses: 60mm f/2.8 macro and 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. The video includes music from “Rains Will Fall” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (license: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-By) 3.0).

All postprocessing was done on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. I edited the video clips and added titles with with Kdenlive, but I did not modify the colors or add any enhancements. Photos were organized and edited with digiKam.

Butterflies

Shiga Prefecture in Japan is blessed with quite a few species of butterflies. A few species are shown here in photographs taken between April and September 5, 2018, when I also made a short video clip (music from “Redwood Highway” by Jason Shaw at AudionautiX.com.)

Asian swallowtails (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ)

Old World swallowtail (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ)

Common copper (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow (Colias erate poliographys, モンキチョウ

Common sailor (Neptis hylas, リュウキュウミスジ)

Common bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon nipponum, アオスジアゲハ)

Common straight swift (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ)

Indian fritillary (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン)

Great Mormon (Papilio memnon thunbergii, ナガサキアゲハ)

Notes

The video clip and most photos were shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and an Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm 2/2.8 PRO lens. A few photos were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX9 camera (Japanese monolingual version of LX10/LX15).

All postprocessing was done on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. I edited the video clips and added titles with with Kdenlive, but I did not modify the colors or add any enhancements other than slow motion (1/4 speed) from the middle of the clip. Photos were organized and edited with digiKam.

Little Egrets at Yasugawa

Little egrets (コサギ) are very active at Yasugawa (野洲川) in early August.

When conditions are just right, many little egrets and a few great egrets (ダイサギ) and grey herons (アオサギ) feed on small aquatic creatures at the weir between Moriyama City on the left bank and Yasu City on the right. I recorded some of the action with video and still photos just after sunrise on August 6, 2018, and again in late afternoon on August 8, 2018.

Video

Photos – August 6

On August 6, 2018, some little egrets and a few great egrets were catching fish in shallow water above the weir in Moriyama City. Others were standing on the weir and feeding on small aquatic creatures.

Often one bird would chase away an interloper. They did not chase other species of birds, but when confronted by an aggressive crow the egrets did not back down.

Photos – August 8

On August 8, 2018, I went to the river late in the afternoon. The sun was behind my back, and there was a strong wind from the northwest (downstream).

As usual, some little egrets bullied others over territory

A few little egrets crowded up close to much larger great egrets (ダイサギ). Sometimes the larger birds snapped at the little ones when they got too close, but real conflict erupted only between birds of the same species. Once a great egret stopped feeding and marched off to confront another great egret.

Sometimes other birds appeared at or below the weir.

Some of the little egrets were feeding very actively.

As we can see in the video above, sometimes they would slip and fall before taking flight. It seemed that they had temporarily forgotten that they could fly. Of course, little egrets fly very well!

Notes

All photos and video clips were shot handheld with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and M. Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens. Some closeup scenes were shot with the camera’s 2X digital teleconverter.

Music: “Kawai Kitsune” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

All postprocessing was done on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. I edited the video clips and added titles with with Kdenlive, but I did not modify the colors or add any enhancements. Photos were organized and edited with digiKam.

Other photos can be seen on my Flickr photostream. Videos are on my YouTube video channel.

Kubon Falls (九品の滝)

One of my favorite places in Ritto City is Kubon Falls (九品の滝), also called Inoue Falls (井上の滝). Here I have been practicing long-exposure photography.

When I began to use a tripod, I was using exposure times of 5-8 seconds with an ND64 filter.

Recently I’ve been trying an ND1000 filter and longer times of 20-60 seconds.

Minerals in the water turn the rocks brown, and moss adds green here and there.

Sometimes we can see wildlife near the falls or down in the valley.

Not many people visit each day, but access by car is easy. A sign, a bus stop, and a small parking lot mark the entrance to the falls from the road up the valley in Inoue.

Usually I go by bicycle, so I can ride up the path along Anakuchigawa (穴口川) all the way to the falls.

I always enjoy the scenic ride back down the valley in Inoue and Misono.

With a bicycle it’s easy to stop and appreciate whatever we see along the road.

Rudbeckia hirta flowers (black-eyed susan, キヌガサギク, 衣笠菊) in Inoue

Rudbeckia hirta flowers (black-eyed susan, キヌガサギク, 衣笠菊) along a rice paddy in Inoue, Ritto City