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A week at the Ogasawara Islands(Part 1 of 2)

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    A week at the Ogasawara Islands(Part 1 of 2)



    Since I have a bit of time waiting for my 4.16pm train from Kushiro, Hokkaido (all my morning trains were canceled on account of Typhoon No. 10), I thought I'd share a few photos from my work trip last week to the Ogasawara Islands, carrying my camera gear in my S19 and my clothes and MacBook in my A30.



    I am spending 14 days in total in Japan this time. The second leg is in Hokkaido (that's another story). My packing list was designed to go for trips between a week and beyond. As it is summer in Japan, I did not need to pack my winter clothes but I did need to pack swimming/snorkeling clothing, extra shoes for the beach, and an Icebreaker cardigan for the cold, air-conditioned berth, and a Montbell shell for hikes in windy and rainy weather.



    It was important to keep the packing light and compact, as we were traveling by ferry where space was limited (and later on, for my second leg, Shinkansen and local trains).





    The journey to Ogasawara (also known as the Bonin Islands) would take 24 hours by ferry from Tokyo. It was a 1,000km journey. There is no airport, no flight, no train, to this group of islands. Just one long 24-hour voyage.



    You quickly learn to find things to do, to pass the time. Sometimes you would check out the views and gorgeous sunsets. Or read. Or sleep. Or eat.



    After 24 hours at sea, with next to no internet, you finally reach this island paradise. The islands are home to many rare and endangered plants and animals, many of which are endemic to the islands.

    If you love to surf, snorkel or dive, this is heaven. Hiking too, is a joy here.





    Last edited by mrbrown; 08-30-2016, 11:08 PM.
    @mrbrown on Twitter, happy owner of a Black Original Halcyon A45, Navy and Burnt Orange A30s, Navy Tristar, Navy WF, Navy NFTD, Navy DLBC, Navy Pilot, Navy and Burnt Orange Co-Pilots, Navy, Burnt Orange, Nordic and Black Halcyon Side Effects, Burnt Orange, French Blue and Nordic Halcyon DLBPs, Linen SCB, Nordic Halycon S25, Nordic Halycon HsJ, Burnt Orange Maker's Bag, and Burnt Orange, Navy and Original Halcyon S19s (yes three, because they are THAT awesome).

    #2
    A week at the Ogasawara Islands (Part 2 of 3)

    A week at the Ogasawara Islands (Part 2 of 3)

    The two main islands are Chichijima (Father Island) and the quieter Hahajima (Mother Island). There are protected areas in the forests here to ensure the rare endemic plant and flora and birds can survive and thrive.



    You need to go through a process of cleaning your shoes with vinegar and sticky-brushing your clothing and bags, before entering the protected forests so that you don't accidentally bring unwanted non-native seeds and plants into the sanctuaries that may harm the wildlife in there.



    This red-headed wood pigeon is one of the almost extinct creatures endemic to these islands. We were very very lucky to encounter one and photograph it. My local guides tell me they see it only a handful of times in a year and they live and work here.





    There is also time to enjoy the island life, chilling at absolutely laid back places like USK Coffee, whose owner, Yusuke-san, grows his own Bonin coffee in the farm that the converted Airstream coffee shop sits on.





    Hahajima (Mother Island) used to have about 2,000 inhabitants. It is about 500 now. Chichijima (Father Island) has about 2,000 people now, when it used to have a few times more than that.

    After the war, and after America took the islands, the residents were evacuated to the mainland. When Japan got the islands back, not everyone returned.



    So you can see parts of Hahajima, especially in the north, where a settlement used to be. That once thriving village is gone now, covered in jungle, an unused port hinting at its former significance.



    Last edited by mrbrown; 08-30-2016, 11:08 PM.
    @mrbrown on Twitter, happy owner of a Black Original Halcyon A45, Navy and Burnt Orange A30s, Navy Tristar, Navy WF, Navy NFTD, Navy DLBC, Navy Pilot, Navy and Burnt Orange Co-Pilots, Navy, Burnt Orange, Nordic and Black Halcyon Side Effects, Burnt Orange, French Blue and Nordic Halcyon DLBPs, Linen SCB, Nordic Halycon S25, Nordic Halycon HsJ, Burnt Orange Maker's Bag, and Burnt Orange, Navy and Original Halcyon S19s (yes three, because they are THAT awesome).

    Comment


      #3
      A week at the Ogasawara Islands(Part 1 of 2)

      A week at the Ogasawara Islands (Part 3 of 3)

      When it is time to leave the islands, you get a rousing send off by the residents. It is a custom here to never say "goodbye". It's never "Sayonara" but "Itterasshai" (See you later) in Ogasawara.













      Update: Link to a little Facebook video tour of my berth, feat. a cameo by the A30:

      Last edited by mrbrown; 08-31-2016, 03:56 PM.
      @mrbrown on Twitter, happy owner of a Black Original Halcyon A45, Navy and Burnt Orange A30s, Navy Tristar, Navy WF, Navy NFTD, Navy DLBC, Navy Pilot, Navy and Burnt Orange Co-Pilots, Navy, Burnt Orange, Nordic and Black Halcyon Side Effects, Burnt Orange, French Blue and Nordic Halcyon DLBPs, Linen SCB, Nordic Halycon S25, Nordic Halycon HsJ, Burnt Orange Maker's Bag, and Burnt Orange, Navy and Original Halcyon S19s (yes three, because they are THAT awesome).

      Comment


        #4
        Awesome! looks fantastic, i have to admit i read you commentary with a david attenborough voice in my head.

        Comment


          #5
          Love, love, love the wonderful pictures and commentary. Makes me want to visit and explore. Thank you for taking us on your trip.
          Seeking Solar shop bags and Solar packing cube shoulder bag Also coveting an Iberian Synapse or Copilot

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            #6
            Mr Brown, you do the best travel posts! Makes me feel like I am there.

            Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk
            Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful. — Shaker Philosophy

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              #7
              Your "work trip to the Ogasawara Islands"? How do you manage a work trip to such a wonderful looking place? I'm lucky if I get a trip to the suburbs in my work.
              A30 in original halcyon/wasabi. Side Kick in verde/northwest sky and cloud/viridian, Pop Tote in Mars Red and Nebulous Grey, Travel Cubelet in Mars Red, Viridian and Grass, A30 packing cube backpack in northwest sky, large travel tray in sitka, packing cubes, pouches and cubelets

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                #8
                Wow, your photos are amazing. Thank you.

                Like Mathew, I also read you commentary with a david attenborough voice in my head.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Great travel post, mrbrown! Love the photos and your description of the places and experience you had. Thanks for sharing.


                  Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

                  Comment


                    #10
                    That sunset is mind-blowing. Your photos are always the greatest treat.

                    If you have time I would be stoked to see any Hokkaido photos you'd care to show us—I'm not from there but I've always had a Hokkaido thing. Thanks for sharing as always.


                    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by Badger View Post
                      That sunset is mind-blowing. Your photos are always the greatest treat.

                      If you have time I would be stoked to see any Hokkaido photos you'd care to show us—I'm not from there but I've always had a Hokkaido thing. Thanks for sharing as always.
                      Thank you. I aim to please. Let's do a little Hokkaido:

                      Hokkaido by Train, 28th August to 3rd Sept 2016

                      After my 24-hour voyage from Ogasawara back to Tokyo, I immediately hoped on a train and then a Shinkansen to Hakodate, the southern tip of Hokkaido.

                      The newly opened bullet train line only reaches that southern city of Hokkaido and doesn't progress any further inland to, say Sapporo. That line will take some more years of building. You can still explore the rest Hokkaido by regular train.





                      By the time I reached Hakodate, it was pretty late already. I checked into my hotel near the station and tried to sleep early, because I had more trains to catch the next morning. I already saw the Hakodate sights before so I wanted to check out the rest of Hokkaido. Then next morning, I caught the first train towards Obihiro.



                      The reason I love trains so much is the view I get to see on a train ride. Hokkaido train rides never disappoint. This ride took me along the coast and I get to eat a special edition bento box lunch that can only be ordered at one of the stations here. Like this crab meat bento.



                      I decided to check out the famous Banei Race Track at Obihiro. It was slowest horse race I've ever seen but a real slice of local life.





                      I also tried the sweets treasure hunt. You get a bunch of coupons for only ¥500 and you can exchange a coupon at a participating store for one sweet or dessert there. Pretty fun but bad for the teeth.



                      My next stop was the eastern city of Kushiro. It's a really quiet port city. In winter this place is like a cold and harsh place. In summer/autumn, it's a slow-moving city.



                      I came here to try the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train that takes you via a scenic route to the Kushiro marsh. But it was not to be.

                      Japan was hit by three typhoons in a row and many train lines were damaged and many routes were canceled. The Norokko wasn't going to run for a while until the track damage was repaired.

                      In fact, I ended up stuck in Kushiro longer than I expected because all my trains going to my next destination, Asahikawa, were canceled.

                      Still, I got to visit the Kushiro observatory which was a bus ride away.



                      Totally worth the visit.



                      After two nights in Kushiro, my train to Asahikawa still wasn't going to happen. I was getting desperate and I had to find an alternate way to move across Hokkaido or I would be stuck in these eastern parts.
                      @mrbrown on Twitter, happy owner of a Black Original Halcyon A45, Navy and Burnt Orange A30s, Navy Tristar, Navy WF, Navy NFTD, Navy DLBC, Navy Pilot, Navy and Burnt Orange Co-Pilots, Navy, Burnt Orange, Nordic and Black Halcyon Side Effects, Burnt Orange, French Blue and Nordic Halcyon DLBPs, Linen SCB, Nordic Halycon S25, Nordic Halycon HsJ, Burnt Orange Maker's Bag, and Burnt Orange, Navy and Original Halcyon S19s (yes three, because they are THAT awesome).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thank you! Sorry to hear that Mother Nature threw a wrench into your train travel plans, but I'm assuming you made it out of eastern Hokkaido alive [emoji4]

                        It's cool you got to see banei horse racing—I don't think there are too many people left who know how to do it. Your ekiben looks like it was pretty righteous, too!


                        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Badger View Post
                          Thank you! Sorry to hear that Mother Nature threw a wrench into your train travel plans, but I'm assuming you made it out of eastern Hokkaido alive [emoji4]

                          It's cool you got to see banei horse racing—I don't think there are too many people left who know how to do it. Your ekiben looks like it was pretty righteous, too!
                          It was quite an experience to watch that race haha!

                          The weather messed with my travel plans more than once in my last two Japan trips, the one in July and the one in August. It was very challenging to dance around the train closures but I was pretty zen about it. Consider it an adventure in Going with the Flow. Haha!

                          In this case, I gave up trying to take a train from
                          Kushiro to Asahikawa, and just booked a ¥5500 bus ride that took me from Kushiro to Kitami and then Asahikawa.









                          The ride took six and a half hours. Three hours to get to Kitami then a 30-minute break to go to the toilet at the 7-Eleven and buy some drinks and food. Then another three hours from Kitami to Asahikawa, with a different driver.

                          Apparently there is a rule that states that Japanese bus drivers cannot drive more than 3 hours for safety reasons.





                          I got myself some onigiri for lunch. Very tasty. The bus ride was actually very enjoyable. Great views.



                          Then another local bus from Asahikawa station later, I was finally in Higashikawa, where I wanted to be.



                          @mrbrown on Twitter, happy owner of a Black Original Halcyon A45, Navy and Burnt Orange A30s, Navy Tristar, Navy WF, Navy NFTD, Navy DLBC, Navy Pilot, Navy and Burnt Orange Co-Pilots, Navy, Burnt Orange, Nordic and Black Halcyon Side Effects, Burnt Orange, French Blue and Nordic Halcyon DLBPs, Linen SCB, Nordic Halycon S25, Nordic Halycon HsJ, Burnt Orange Maker's Bag, and Burnt Orange, Navy and Original Halcyon S19s (yes three, because they are THAT awesome).

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