This Is How Japan’s Train-Cleaning Crews Clean The Bullet Train In Only Seven Minutes

I’ve witnessed this in person so many times that I had stopped noticing, but now that I think about it… it is pretty impressive.

Though I will add that I’ve taken many Shinkansen[1] and witnessed many cleaning crews and never once seen them line up to bow like in the video[2]. Usually they slip out quickly and quietly.

  1. Bullet train.  ↩

  2. Almost always from Nagoya to Tokyo or the reverse, so perhaps it is just that this line is the no-​​bow line.  ↩

Chance Double Exposures Shot With A Kodak Reflex II

Adam Allegro, on his double exposure photo project, titled “Fortuitous Layers”:

I began shooting a roll of film, re-​​spooling it, and then shooting it again, sometimes weeks later, without knowledge of what I photographed initially. The resulting images showcase this dynamic, incorporating a disciplined, stylistic approach and a complex, time-​​consuming method into an experiment of chance.

Some wonderful images here.

Want To Learn Japanese?

Jasmine at ZoomingJapan goes into some detail on how she learned Japanese.

You gotta put a lot of effort and time into this. There’s no way around it. If you thought I’m going to show you some magic trick how to become fluent in Japanese quickly, then you might as well stop reading now.

I can’t tell you what you should do in order to be successful in your studies. I won’t sit down next to you and hold your hand while you study. I wouldn’t be a good Japanese teacher anyway. All I can do is share how I learned Japanese by telling you what worked for me and what didn’t.

Some great tips included in her piece.

This Is How Giraffes Sleep

Take a good look at these giraffe nap pics, because you won’t often catch a giraffe sleeping. In fact, despite being the tallest animal, giraffes have the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal, sleeping an average of just 30 minutes per day. And when they do sleep, usually it’s just for a few minutes; until the 1950s, researchers believed that giraffes don’t sleep at all.

Some nice photos of something most of us have never seen.


Ben Proudfoot’s latest video is a wonderful look at woodturning with woodturning master Steven Kennard.

TURNS is a portrait of master woodturner Steven Kennard.

It may be about woodturning specifically, but it’s also about artistry in general1.

  1. I know there are many of you who will argue photography is not artistry. I disagree. 

14 of My Favorite Things to See in Japan

These are a few of my favorite things…

I am often asked why I like Japan. Why…? Let me count the ways. For today’s post, let’s look at 14 of the rea­sons I love Japan. No way is this list inclu­sive, but it does show a few of the things I really enjoy about in this country.

14 of My Favorite Things to See in Japan

  1. Torii Gates

    Torii Gates are probably one of the first things people think of when they think of Japan. They are elegant and beautiful. Despite how often I see them, I never get tired of seeing them.

    I wrote a brief post a few years back looking at some info about torii gates, and to this day it is still the most popular page/​post on this site. Read Here

  2. Buddha Statues

    There are of course the big ones in Kamakura[1] and Nara, but you will find smaller buddha statues at many temples and many other places as well.

  3. Japanese Castles

    Japanese castles are grand and imposing in a way that European castles aren’t. It’s not surprising that so many foreigners completely fall in love with them, traveling all over the country to see them all.

    A number of those castle-​​loving foreigners have even started websites documenting all of the country’s castles. Here and here are the best I know.

  4. Cherry Blossoms

    The sakura are the biggest event of the year for most Japanese people. They are everywhere and when they bloom, every city turns white and pink!

  5. Cherry Blossom Blizzard (sakura fubuki)

    What — again with the cherry blossoms? As nice as the cherry blossoms are themselves, the best part is when they start to fall. When the wind blows, blossoms come down like snow; with especially strong gusts, like a blizzard.

  6. Mejiro

    If the bright red cardinal is the most beloved bird of America[2], the tiny greenish-​​yellow mejiro might fulfill that role in Japan. While the cry of the uguisu is more iconic to the Japanese, few people have actually seen an uguisu, and the mejiro is that one bird everyone knows and looks forward to seeing. They are attracted to sweet flowers, so are very common to see with the plum blossoms and the kawazu cherry blossoms[3].

  7. House Gates

    Unlike America where front yards are typically completely unhidden and open to the public gaze, in Japan the entire yard is usually enclosed by a high wall or hedge. Many of these homes have a small, normal gate that lets us in to this private sanctuary, but the richer homes will have these very impressive gates.

  8. Autumn Leaves

    There are many kinds of leaves in Japan, of course, but the two most popular to see in autumn are the Japanese maple which turns a deep red, and the ginkgo which turns a brilliant yellow.

  9. Plum Blossoms

    More blossoms! The plum blossoms are less popular than the cherry, but they are still very much loved. They come earlier, around February, and they have a sweet fragrance.[4]

  10. Ema

    Ema are wooden plaques you find at shrines. Usually one side has a drawing related to the shrine or area and the other side has wishes or hopes someone wants granted.

  11. Komainu

    Also called shi shi or fu dogs, you find these guys guarding shrines. There is a lot of variation in these statues and it’s always interesting to see them.

  12. Inari fox statues

    I don’t know the name for these actually. I typically simply refer to them as kitsune or inari kitsune to specify[5]. You see them at Inari shrines instead of komainu. Depending on your source of reading, they are either suppose to be messengers for Inari or Inari him/​herself[6].

  13. Shrine Gates

    The shrines themselves often have very impressive gates to the inner shrines.

  14. Festivals

    Everyone, foreigners and Japanese alike, enjoys watching traditionally dressed people, and the best places to find traditionally dressed people are at festivals!

    In addition to the people themselves, you find all kind of fun things at festivals, like taiko.

    and samurai parades

Only 14 Things?

These are just a few of the awesome things I love about Japan. I could go on with more, but let’s stop at 14.

Have any to add? Add them in the comments.

  1. The daibutsu or Great Buddha  ↩

  2. This is debatable, I’m sure, but bear with me.  ↩

  3. The pink kind that start to bloom around the end of February.  ↩

  4. Hint: If they are attached to stems, that’s a cherry blossom. If they are attached directly to the branch, it’s a plum blossom.  ↩

  5. Kitsune is Japanese for fox  ↩

  6. Inari Ōkami is the Shinto god for good fortune or a good harvest and is in fact the most popular Shinto deity. Sometimes he’s represented as a he, other times a she, and sometimes both.  ↩