Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Smoking in Japan is funny. In a country where close to 47% of the men smoke, and where you can buy personal, portable ashtrays for your purse at the ¥100 ($1) Store, the smoking culture is completely different from back in the States. If you ask high schoolers why they don't smoke, they won't give you a health-class schpeal about cancer or tooth decay, but usually state it's because they aren't of age yet. Most restaurants don't have a non-smoking section...if they do, you usually have to walk through a thick, carcinogenic haze before reaching the tiny non-smoking area in the back (which often is equipped with ashtrays anyway).

The biggest campaign against smoking here in Japan is against the littering of cigarette butts, and the smoke that could potentially get in other people's faces while walking down the street. Because of this, there has appeared a Smoking Manners Movement through some fabulous signs with strange statements written in the first-person. Vying for humor with the statements are the accompanying illustrations themselves. I LOVE them. As a tribute to the Japanese haiku of textbooks galore, I have named them Tobac-ku. Enjoy:

The cool cowboy flicks his cigarette butt into the street. But he lives in an old movie.
(Tobacco...Hero...A long time ago...Villain)

I threw my cigarette butt into the drain. That is to say, I hid it in the drain.
(Toss away.)

Soaking in the rain, a cigarette butt grows and grows.

Where does the smoke go? Only the person producing it is unconcerned.
(Smoker...Neglect...Route of smoke)

Check out the helicopter placement for scale:

A cigarette is carried at the height of a child's face.

I carry a 700 degree C fire in my hand with people walking all around me.

The cigarette butts are always more noticeable when I'm walking my dog.

Smoke is billowing from a stand ashtray. If it were my home, I wouldn't be so calm.
(My home...Stand ashtray)

And perhaps my most favorite of them all (definitely t-shirt quality):

Inhaled. Burned. Thrown away. If it were anything but a cigarette, it would surely be crying.
(Meet...Love...The end)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rob and Minami's Japanaustralian Wedding

I was once again lucky to be one of the photographers for yet another intercultural wedding here in Sapporo (you can read about my first one, along with some Japanese wedding traditions, here).  Our Aussie friend and fellow JET, Rob, married the lovely (and quite beautiful) Minami at the Hotel Okura here in town.  It was an incredible celebration of friends, family, and true love!

(Photo by Mr. Ross Cole-Hunter)

The cask of sake that was smashed opened together by the new family members:

I love this photo:  Rob working through some tough Japanese in his speech!  Despite the troubles, his words, no doubt, were very sweet and touching!

The second party, or nijikai, is a more relaxed and casual atmosphere (usually held in a bar or restaurant) after the reception, as you can see:

Sam, Me, Minami, and Callie...pretty hot if I do say so myself (Photo by Ross Cole-Hunter):

Party guest montage, as seen through my punched out BINGO card:

I wish Rob and Minami the happiest of times together and I'm so glad to have been a part of their fabulous day!  You can view more of Rob and Minami's wedding pics over on my photo blog.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summertime in Sapporo...

...means beautiful yukuta (lightweight, summer kimono) everywhere you turn,

Sad goodbye parties galore for those leaving back to their countries (this one was for the other assistant English teacher at my school, Dawn, from Singapore, and the assistant Chinese teacher, Katsu, from China),

A plethora of summer festivals (such as this Susukino Festival downtown),

(Pants are almost ALWAY optional when it comes to the men and shrine carrying!)

The massive beer gardens that overtake all of Odori Park (which I lovingly wrote about a year ago here),

(Nothing says Germany like sparkly Japanese go-go dancers singing hits from the 80s!)

And, of course amazing summer nights and perfect weather, bringing everyone out and about to savor this short season while it lasts!