Shikoku: Kaiyu

April 13, 2017

This looked to be an unusual day.

For a change, the sky is clear as we make our way out of Nakamura. The Henro-michi takes us along the banks of the ever-broadening Shimanto River to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. From here, the path heads inland, following Highway 321 as it cuts through forest hills, through a long, dark tunnel and finally deposits us along the shoreline of the Pacific.

The sunny, scenic 25-kilometre walk warrants any number of gushing words. But, this day, it is our destination that ultimately captivates Gail and me.

The tall white mass of Kaiyu Inn rises high above the coastal highway, sharply cutting into a deep blue sky. The building’s mid-century modern architectural lineage becomes apparent as we approach.  (more…)

Shikoku: Off the Trail in Nakamura

April 12, 2017

We call them rest days and today is one of those days. Here in the quiet, small city of Nakamura, we plan to do nothing more than see a few sights and, of course, eat.

Nakamura is the perfect place to take a holiday from our daily walking ritual. It’s a small community, just shy of 35,000 souls. So small, I assume, that in 2005 it was merged with another small community, Nishitosa, becoming Shimanto City.

The old town of Nakamura lies sandwiched between two branches of the mighty Shimanto River, Japan’s last free-flowing river. It takes about ten minutes to walk the width of downtown from one river bank to the other and 30 minutes to walk its length. (more…)

Camera Tales: The Konica Autoreflex T (second exposure)

Konica introduced the Autoreflex T in 1968, the company’s first fully automatic 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera with through-the-lens (TTL) metering. The camera is built like a tank and, when the shutter-release button is pushed, it sounds like one. Its heft might suggest it was carved out of a solid block of steel.

The camera came with a 52mm f/1.8 Hexanon lens, those days considered a not-too-wide, not-too-telephoto good standard  focal length. Its all-metal barrel gave it a weight and sense of durability to match the camera body. The bayonet mount, introduced with the Autoreflex T, allowed for quick lens changes. Indeed, my kit soon filled out with 135mm telephoto and 28mm wide angle lenses.

Around 1973, I acquired the just-introduced Konica Autoreflex T3, an updated version of my first camera. The Autoreflex T was relegated to use as a back-up body or loaded with a different film. With two camera bodies, either switching film speeds or film type during a shoot simply required a quick change of lens from one body to the other.

This photography kit would be by my side through the bulk of the 1970s. My understanding of photography would evolve over that period, alongside my design education at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture.  (more…)

Postcards from Ireland: A Day in County Down

It is hard to miss the strong connections between Ireland and Canada. We have heard so many stories over the past weeks, so many stories of emigration to our frigid shores. That includes our friend in Canada, born and bred in Northern Ireland and now living just across the Assiniboine River from us in Winnipeg. As it turns out, her sister still lives in Belfast and, after a few email exchanges, we have arranged to meet up with her.

So begins our road trip through the Irish countryside. Emma, our host, is at the wheel. Alfie, the affable border collie, is comfortably sprawled over the backseat and Gail’s lap. I am riding side-saddle in the front, trying to guess where we are.

Emma takes us south of Belfast and into rural County Down, along impossibly narrow roads tightly lined with stone fences. Roads not too dissimilar from the ones we walked throughout our cross-Ireland trek, pressing ourselves into the curbside walls as cars passed.  (more…)

A Camino Postscript: The City of Culture

A message to all pilgrims approaching Santiago de Compostela: as you make your way through the modern suburbs, take time to look left, over the modern buildings to the hill beyond and the odd structure perched on its crest. It was Gail who first noticed it and pointed it out to me. And it was me, afflicted with an incurable architectural disease that allows me to identify the work of famous architects five kilometres away, that recognized this as the work of contemporary architect, Peter Eisenman.

We filed our discovery for future reference. There was the cathedral and five more days walking to Finisterre and Muxia still beckoned. But we have returned to Santiago for one last day. A day reserved for Eisenman. (more…)