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Photographer's Note

I expect this will not be the most popular of my photos on TE (“Why, oh why did you not choose one of the WS images as the main upload?” I can hear people ask). Grainy, dark, monochrome landscape with not much in it, the actual seascape relegated somewhere far, to the distant background at the top of the frame...

I wrote about my 2006 trip to the Izu archipelago in my last post. While the many onsen are a big attraction of that region of Japan, the account of my stay in Niijima would not be complete without a mention of a particular type of stone called “koga” which is a kind of a volcanic rock. Niijima is one of the only two places in the world (the other being distant Sicily) where that mineral resource can be found.

Two obvious uses of stone are as building material and the stuff to create the works of sculpture. I have already posted an example of koga-based architecture. As for the latter, Niijima is sometimes referred to as the “Easter Island of Japan” and for a good reason. There are stone statues everywhere and one of the biggest tourist attractions is the so called “Stone Zoo”.

But that’s not all. When stone gives in to erosion, sand is formed. There are two first class beaches in Niijima – 4 km long Maehama and the 6 km stretch of Habushiura, popular with surfers in the summer.
Fortunately, it being early April, my visit did not coincide with the influx of water sports lovers and I had the beaches virtually to myself. I spent 4 many hours wondering Habushiura, enjoying the softness of the distinctive greyish-white “koga sand” under my feet. I found it somehow uninspiring for “big view” landscape photography but full of detail suitable for almost abstract shots like this one.

That’s not all still. The sand is used to produce glass. And not just any glass but the vivid-green glass of Niijima. Another big tourist attraction is the Glass Art Centre where you can admire art made of glass, watch glassblowers in action and purchase a souvenir or two.

I did visit the Glass Centre and bought a glass necklace which, unfortunately, broke to pieces two years later having been dropped on the floor. But I still own another piece of Niijima glass – a small green plate – a present from the owner of the minshuku where I stayed. I have already mentioned the hospitality I encountered in the traditional Japanese guesthousesbut I would like to add – there are several places in Japan where I happened to be the only visitor from the west and I immediately became the favourite guest showered with little presents and favours. It was very nice. More about it in a later post.

I also promise I’m going to write a little bit more about Japanese onsen at some point.

Two more photos in WS. You have already seen them if you clicked on the links while reading the above note.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1298 W: 3 N: 2322] (13505)
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