Unzen – Where foreigners go to hell to cool off

From a tiny speck on the horizon, the volcano slow grew as I crossed first the mud flats of Kumamoto and then the shallow waters of the Ariake Sea. Now, at the foot of the volcano, looming over the small city of Shimabara, there was only one way to go: up! Unzen, the central volcanoContinue reading “Unzen – Where foreigners go to hell to cool off”

Living “with volcano” — a trip to Shimabara

The Shimabara Peninsula, a peninsula of a peninsula in Nagasaki prefecture, is just one of the fascinating places I travelled to in Kyushu, looking for “Kyushu Firsts.” This is where the “black samurai” Yasuke first landed in Japan in 1579 and is the location of Japan’s first printing press. The peninsula hosted many Portuguese JesuitsContinue reading “Living “with volcano” — a trip to Shimabara”

Continuing a Japanese porcelain legacy — Review of The Art of Emptiness

In the mid-seventeenth century the nobles of Europe were thrown into an addiction crisis. With the fall of the Ming Dynasty, and the chaos that ensued, where were they to get fine porcelain to decorate their palaces? As luck would have it, a new source of kaolinite — the key mineral in the manufacture ofContinue reading “Continuing a Japanese porcelain legacy — Review of The Art of Emptiness”

Creating the image of peace — Kitamura Seibo

Just north of the hypocenter where the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki is a commemorative park honouring victims of mass destruction. Walkways wend through trimmed lawns dotted with sculptures gifted from nations around the world in a mournful solidarity. The piece that caps the display is of a powerful man, one hand pointing up atContinue reading “Creating the image of peace — Kitamura Seibo”