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Letter of Thanks from PhilI really enjoyed my first trip to Finland during September 4-18, 2005 (Sept. 8-17 in Kuusamo) and savored every hour. The people in Kuusamo were all so nice and it was a great pleasure to meet and see the work of many talented and dedicated photographers from Europe.

They have definitely piqued my interest and opened my eyes to the nature and wildlife in northern Europe and the Arctic region. I've also become much more keenly aware of the seriousness of global warming. People in Finland have told me how the climate has become noticeably warmer over the decades. Such countries near the polar regions are the first to feel and see the detrimental effects of global warming. I really hope we can someday reverse the trend.

I want to thank the people who made my sponsored trip and participation in Kuusamo Nature Photo 2005 possible and very enjoyable. After months of email correspondence with the festival staff, it was great to finally meet all of them face to face. It makes a big difference when you know the face and person behind the name.

I know they worked very hard to pull off a very successful nature photo festival. For all the email correspondence, coordination, and making all the arrangements, I especially want to thank the following:

Lassi Rautiainen, Kuusamo Nature Photo Director
Pekka Pirhonen, Kuusamo Culture Department Manager
Seija Väisänen
Hannele Pappila
Town of Kuusamo
Corporate sponsors

I also want to personally thank the following people:

Pirkko Väätäinen, my interpreter who interpreted my three slide shows into Finnish.
Hannu Hautala and wife Irma, for having us over at his home/office. Despite his fame, Hannu is a very down-to-earth and warm-hearted man. It was a great pleasure to meet him, to see his collection of Japanese photo books, and hearing about his two trips to Japan.
Barbara, for videotaping my slide shows with my video camera and taking some great snapshots of me enjoying myself in Kuusamo. And also for providing transportation to/from the airport.
Tõnu Ling, for taking snapshots of me in Kuusamo and being my first friend in Kuusamo (we met on the plane to Kuusamo).
Koillis sanomat newspaper and reporter Tuomo Pirttimaa for interviewing me in an article they published.

Again, I have to thank Lassi for everything. He was the one who took care of all the details even during our nature trips. Lending sleeping bags, carrying hot drinks in heavy thermos bottles, driving us all over the place, answering all our questions, taking pictures of us, and making sure everyone had an enjoyable time. He turned out to be quite humorous. I can highly recommend him to anyone who needs a very knowledgeable local guide to watch or photograph wildlife in Finland.
See his Web site: Articmedia

Finally, I want to thank all the people and photographers I met at Kuusamo for their pleasant company and friendship. Remember that you have a friend in Japan. If you ever come and visit, let me know.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this permanent online gallery of Finland photos explained in both English and Japanese.

Philbert Ono
Tokyo, Japan

P.S. In case you don't know, "kiitos" means thank you in Finnish.
30-min. delay from Helsinki to Kuusamo... 出発30分の遅れKuusamo, the site of the annual Kuusamo Nature Photo festival I was invited to, is in northeastern Finland near the Russian border (see map). After spending a few days in Helsinki, I took this plane to Kuusamo taking about 70 min. Finnair flies from Helsinki to Kuusamo usually once a day. By car, it's about 800 km.

This day (Sept. 8, 2005), we stood in line at the gate, gave our boarding passes, and boarded a bus that would take us to the plane, a Boeing MD-82.

After standing and waiting for some minutes in the bus, they announced that they had to change one of the tires of the plane, so the flight would be delayed by 30 min. We all went back into the terminal building and waited. Of course, no one complained. We would rather fly in a safe plane. I wonder why they waited until the last minute to inspect the tires? Shouldn't they have inspected the tires the day before??

It's hard to see in this photo, but the left-most rear tire was indeed replaced. It looked new (shiny black) compared to the tire next to it.

Otsu Exhibition, Nov. 21 - Dec. 4, 2005 at Shiga Kaikan, Otsu, Shiga. Right across from the Shiga Prefectural Office. 滋賀会館For this exhibition, I created my own photographic rendition of the places and scenes mentioned in the song and also photographed all the stone monuments dedicated to the song. I used Photoshop to composite images and to alter the colors into a dreamy condition as the song suggests. I also translated the lyrics into English.

The exhibition was held at Shiga Kaikan, right across from the Shiga Prefectural Office. Shiga Kaikan has two spaces for exhibitions, and I used the smaller space called Bunka Salon Gallery.

Address: Kyomachi 3-4-22, Otsu, Shiga Pref.
Phone: 077-525-9995
〒520-0044 大津市京町三丁目 4-22
Web site:
Title: Lake Biwa Rowing Song - In Pictures and in English Bunka Salon Gallery (also a coffee shop) inside Shiga Kaikan. 「琵琶湖周航の歌」〜写真と英語に〜The title was "Lake Biwa Boating Song - In Pictures and in English." I later changed the song title to "Lake Biwa Rowing Song."

Shiga Kaikan has two spaces for exhibitions, and I used the smaller space called Bunka Salon Gallery.

One entire wall and half of another wall were available for exhibitions free of charge.
My first and very small exhibition to introduce "Lake Biwa Rowing Song" in English. The English lyrics were still unfinished, so only an English translation was presented.I showed three images per verse (6 verses total), plus caption sheets and artist's message, boating map, and composer's biography on the other wall.

All the pictures were printed on A4 inkjet paper. Very low budget exhibition, but it caught the interest of one newspaper reporter. I later changed the song title to "Lake Biwa Rowing Song."

Exhibition Date & Time: Nov. 21 to Dec. 4, 2005, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, closed Mon.

Address: Kyomachi 3-4-22, Otsu, Shiga Pref.
Phone: 077-525-9995
〒520-0044 大津市京町三丁目 4-22
Web site:
For each verse (total 6 verses), I showed three photos and a caption sheet with my non-singable English translation of the verse.「琵琶湖周航の歌」をイメージ写真付きで英訳された作詞と英文説明で紹介する写真展です。歌に登場する各地の写真や6番まですべての歌碑も英語で紹介。外国人も知って欲しい名曲です。英語の勉強にも!

2005年11月21日(月)〜12月4日(日) 9:30〜17:00
滋賀県大津市 滋賀会館 文化サロンギャラリー  入場無料
〒520-0044 大津市京町三丁目 4-22
Tel: 077-525-9995




Verse 1 photos (Otsu)
Verse 2 photos (Omi-Maiko)
Verse 3 photos (Imazu)
Verse 4 photos (Chikubushima)
Verse 5 photos (Hikone)
No Photography撮影禁止 - The sign reads "Satsuei kinshi." "Satsuei" means to take photos, and "kinshi" means "prohibited." The "No photo" symbol also makes it clear.

On Japanese warning signs, the three most common words you will see are "kinshi" (禁止), "kiken" (危険), and "chui" (or "go-chui") (注意). They respectively mean "prohibited," "danger," and "beware of."

Place: World PC Expo in Makuhari Messe in Chiba.
Statue of Ueno Hikoma
Landing in Kuusamo in northeast Finland slightly below the Arctic Circle. I was invited to their 10th Kuusamo Nature Photo festival in September 9-17, 2005 to give slide shows of Japanese photographers. クーサモの上空Lakes everywhere. In fact, about 14% of Kuusamo's land area is covered by lakes (about 166 of them), and 60% is covered by forests. Lakes and forests breed a lot of nature and wildlife. Hence, Kuusamo is one of Finland's prime areas for bird-watching and wildlife safaris. The population is over 18,000, but they receive about 1 million visitors a year for the nature and skiing.

With so much water and trees all around, I think Finland is a very pacifying country. Most people feel at peace whenever they see water or trees. Finland will probably become a popular tourist destination when more people discover it. A great place to kick back and relax.
See Kuusamo on map: Virtual Finland map
Web site:

Verse 6 photos (Chomeiji)
On the adjacent wall, I showed a map of the rowing route, artist's message in English and Japanese, and an English biography of Taro Oguchi, the songwriter.
No Photography撮影禁止 - Another sign that reads (top to bottom) "Satsuei kinshi." "Satsuei" means to take photos, and "kinshi" means prohibited. At this Shinto shrine, you are not allowed to photograph inside the main shrine building housing the altar.

Place: A shrine in Kyoto.
Statue of Ueno Hikoma
Kuusamo Airport クーサモ空港. クーサモはヘルシンキから飛行機で70分で行ける北東の自然いっぱいの町。2005年9月にクーサモのネィチャーフォトの祭りへ招待されてスライドショーをあげた。The airport is close to town, taking about 10 min. by car.

Imazu Exhibition, May 16 - June 25, 2006 at Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan, Takashima, Shiga. Photo exhibition poster.
Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan song museum, in Imazu, Shiga 琵琶湖周航の歌資料館
Title: Lake Biwa Rowing Song - In Pictures and in English 「琵琶湖周航の歌」写真と英語に. Entrance to exhibition room in the song museum, Imazu.
Exhibition room on the 2nd floor of the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan song museum.
Crowd gathers
Exhibition introduction
Verse 6 song monument photos (Chomeiji)
Verse 6 photos (Chomeiji)
Verse 5 song monument photos (Hikone)
No Tripods三脚使用禁止 - The bold characters read, "Sankyaku shiyō kinshi" meaning tripod use is prohibited. The sign further explains that since tripods hinder the view of other spectators, they are not allowed except in the press photographers' box.

The kanji characters for tripod consists of "san" for three (the 3 horizontal lines make it obvious), and "kyaku" which means legs.

Place: Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine (during the Yabusame Festival), Kamakura, Kanagawa Pref.
Statue of Ueno Hikoma
Kuusamo Hall 写真まつりのメイン会場、クーサモ・ホールKuusamo has been holding a nature photo festival annually in September since 1996 at this beautiful hall. They invite a good number of nature photographers (mostly from Europe) to give slide shows and exhibitions. The main venue is Kuusamo Hall, pictured here. They also use other venues in Kuusamo town for photo exhibitions.

Normally, the festival is held for four days centering on one weekend. But for their 10th year in 2005, the festival was held during two consecutive weekends during September 9-18. For this special year, they decided to invite people from as many countries as possible (like ten), including Japan for the first time.

In spring 2005, they contacted me for recommendations on Japanese photographers to be invited to the festival. We tried to invite a well-known Japanese photographer (with me as his guide and interpreter), but he had to pull out at the last minute so I ended up being the only person from Japan to participate in Kuusamo. I gave three slide shows held in this hall on Sept. 9, 10, and 11. Fortunately, it worked out very well.

As you can see, they raised the flags of all the countries represented at the photo festival. I was proud to see the Japanese flag and to be representing Japan even though I'm American.

Kuusamo Nature Photo Web site:
Kuusamo Hall Web site:

クーサモ ネイチャーフォトまつりのメイン会場であるクーサモ・ホール。この写真まつりに初めて日の丸も上がった。私はアメリカ人なのに、日本も代表できることで嬉しかった。星条旗も上げて欲しかった。クーサモ・ホールの他にも市街にある展示スペースに写真展が開催された。

今年の春にまつりの実行委員長 (Lassi Rautiainen) からメールが来て、「今年は10年目で、日本人の写真家も招待したいので推薦できる写真家がいないか」と聞かれました。私が一人の有名写真家を推薦したけど、彼が急に都合が悪くなって結局、僕一人で日本の代表として行くことになりました。これも上手くいった。
Verse 5 photos (Hikone)
Verse 4 song monument photos (Chikubushima)
Verse 4 photos (Chikubushima)
Verse 3 song monument photos (Imazu)
Verse 3 photos (Imazu)
Verse 2 song monument photos (Omi-Maiko)
Verse 2 photos (Omi-Maiko)
Verse 1 song monument photos (Otsu)
Verse 1 photos (Otsu)
Photos of the song monument and Taro Oguchi statue in Okaya, Nagano, his hometown.
No Tripods and Monopods, unless...三脚 一脚 - This sign says "Sankyaku, ikkyaku go-shiyō no kata wa, kyokasho (2,000 yen) ga hitsuyō desu." Since you learned the characters for "tripod" in the preceding image, you should also know the characters for monopod, called "ikkyaku," literally "one leg."

This sign is a warning and a money-making scheme. It says that you cannot use a tripod or monopod in this garden unless you pay 2,000 yen to obtain a permission slip.

Place: Heian Shrine Garden, Kyoto.
Statue description
Inside Kuusamo Hall ホールの中(休憩中)The hall, called Kuusamotalo in Finnish, has a very nice auditorium with comfortable, deluxe chairs equipped with tables. As if symbolizing Finland's vast number of forests, lots of wood is also used in the hall's interior.

Opened in 1996, the hall seats over 500. It is geared for all kinds of events like conferences, concerts, stage performances, and slide shows. This is where all the slide shows were held during the Kuusamo Nature Photo festival.

We could easily project our images either with a slide projector (with remote control) or from our own laptop computer which we could control directly from the podium. The screen is very large and well-suited for slide shows. The hall's sound system is also excellent. Picture taken during a slide show break.

Danger, Keep Out危険 立入禁止 - The kanji characters on the right say "kiken" meaning danger. The big characters on the left say "tachi-iri kinshi" meaning "entry prohibited." Remember the word "kiken" (危険). It is one of the three most common words on warning signs in Japan. Another one is "kinshi" (禁止). If you see it, be aware that something is prohibited.

Place: Ohara beach, Chiba.
Ueno Hikoma birthplace
Kuusamo Hall exhibition space ホール内の展示スペースBesides the big auditorium, Kuusamo Hall has multiple facilities including exhibition spaces and a restaurant. It functions as a performing arts and culture center.

Nagahama Exhibition, July 1 - Aug. 10, 2006 at Biwa Library, Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture. Exhibition poster.
Lute Plaza, which includes Biwa Library in Nagahama, Shiga. 20-min. bus ride from Nagahama Station.
Biwa Library びわ図書館
Title: Lake Biwa Rowing Song - Sing in English! 「琵琶湖周航の歌」英語で歌おう! Entrance to Biwa Library.
Photo exhibition in Biwa Library, Nagahama, Shiga Pref.
Photo exhibition in Biwa Library
Photo exhibition panels at Biwa Library
Photo exhibition panels
Photo exhibition panels at Biwa Library
Do not Enter立入禁止 - Another "entry prohibited" sign or "tachi-iri kinshi" in red kanji characters. On the right, the characters read, "kankei-sha igai" meaning "unauthorized persons."

Place: Lake Biwa at Otsu, Shiga Pref.
Ueno Hikoma birthplace
Kuusamo Hall exhibition space ホール内の写真展This nice dedicated space held the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

The photos displayed were almost the same as the Imazu exhibition.
Do Not EnterThis sign is similar to the preceding one. The middle column of characters has the word "kōji" (工事) which means construction. So the sign means, "Danger: No entry except for authorized construction workers."

Place: Mikuni-cho, Fukui Pref.
Ueno Hikoma birthplace
Kuusamo Hall exhibition space フォトコンの展示Photo contest winners displayed in the hall's lobby.

Omi-Hachiman One-Day Exhibition, Oct. 29, 2006 at Shima Kominkan Public Hall, Omi-Hachiman, Shiga. 島公民館文化祭
Opening ceremony for the Culture Festival (Bunka-sai) at this public hall near Chomeiji temple in Omi-Hachiman.
Entrance to my photo exhibition in Shima Kominkan Public Hall during their day-long Bunka-sai Culture Festival.
Title: Lake Biwa Rowing Song in English 「琵琶湖周航の歌」英語版
Center exhibition panel with song location images
Two panels on left wall
Two panels on right wall
Introduction to the song and newspaper articles
Explanation of English lyrics for the six verses.
Photos of song monuments.
Under Construction - Do Not Enter工事中 - Another variation of "Do not Enter." The red characters read "Kōji-chū shinnyū kinshi" meaning no entry during construction operations. The "No entry" traffic symbol is also a tell-tale sign. You usually see this symbol at the entrance of a one-way road (if you face the wrong direction).
Site of Ueno Hikoma residence and studioHikoma opened Japan's first portrait studio here in 1862. The site is now occupied by a parking structure.
Kuusamo Hall 2nd floor lobby 2階のロビーThe balcony on the 2nd floor also served as an exhibition space and booth space for sponsors and the sale of photo books.
Photos of Kyoto University Rowing Club's Lake Biwa rowing trip, including a picture of them posing with the Chomeiji song monument.
Under Construction工事中 - The sign reads "Kōji-chū" meaning "under construction." You see this often at Japanese Web sites as well.

Place: Near Mt. Fugendake, Nagasaki Pref. (Note that the year stated in the image indicates the year the photo was first published, not the year when the picture was taken.)
Site of Ueno Hikoma residence and studio
Opening ceremony 写真まつりの開会式An opening ceremony was held on September 9, 2005, the first day of the Kuusamo Nature Photo festival. Speaking is Lassi Rautiainen who headed the festival committee. Since the beginning 10 years ago, he has been the main man behind this annual nature photo festival.

実行委員長であるラッシー・ラウティアイネン氏(Lassi Rautiainen)の挨拶。この写真祭りの創業者でもある。今年で10年目。
Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography. Beautiful museum in the middle of nowhere, dedicated to the late Ueda Shoji, one of Japan's most famous fine-art photographers.
Okaya One-Day Exhibition, Mar. 4, 2007 at Canora Hall, Okaya, Nagano.
Title: Lake Biwa Rowing Song in English 「琵琶湖周航の歌」英語版
Exhibition during the Okaya International Exchange Association's 15th anniversary festival.
My photo exhibition with two panels showing photos of places mentioned in the song and song monuments.
Left panel.
Front view. On the left, there is a small lens in the wall for a camera obscura.
Right panel.
Below the photos were explanation of the song and English lyrics.
Inside one of the galleries.
Some English explanations also provided.
View of Mt. Daisen.
Yokaichi Exhibition, May 9-27, 2007 at Yokaichi Public Library, HigashiOmi, Shiga. Photo exhibition poster.
View of Mt. Daisen.
Yokaichi Public Library, near Yokaichi Station. 東近江市 八日市図書館
2nd floor gallery in Yokaichi Public Library. This floor is also like a coffee shop.
Go Slow徐行 - The sign on the right says "Jokō" meaning go slow (when boarding or disembarking from the ferry). You may see this at construction sites as well.

Place: Onomichi, Hiroshima Pref.
Description of Ueno Hikoma residence and studioIt says that Hikoma opened Japan's first photo studio here in 1862.
First panel explaining Verses 1 and 2, Yokaichi Public Library 2nd floor gallery
Second panel explaining Verses 3 and 4.
Third panel explaining Verses 5 and 6.
Fourth panel showing all the song monuments in Shiga and Okaya, Nagano.
Fifth and final panel showing photos of our song-related activities.
2nd Imazu Exhibition, May 30 - July 1, 2007 at Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan, Takashima, Shiga. This was the second time to have an exhibition here. Photo exhibition poster.
One half of the exhibition. It is similar to the exhibition held here a year before, but many new photos have been added. They include photos of the Kyoto Univ. Rowing Club and our activities in the past year.
1st panel explaining about the exhibition and English song. This exhibition coincides with the June 16, 2007 release of our Lake Biwa Rowing Song CD.
2nd panel showing Verse 1 (Otsu)
3rd panel showing Verse 2 (Omatsu or Omi-Maiko)
Danger! Do not Jump in River危険!川へ飛び込まないでください。- The red characters read "Kiken!" (Danger!), and the black characters say "Kawa e tobi komanaide kudasai." "Kawa" is river, "tobi komi" is to jump or dive in.

This at the famous Dotonbori canal in central Osaka where it is a popular place for fanatical baseball fans to jump in whenever the local baseball team (Hanshin Tigers) wins big. The river is quite polluted and littered with trash (though recently cleaned up by the city). During the Soccer World Cup in 2002, several hundred people jumped in the water when the Japan team won a crucial game.

Place: Dotonbori, Osaka.
Site of Ueno Hikoma residence and studio
4th panel showing Verse 3 (Imazu)
5th panel showing Verse 4 (Chikubushima)
6th panel showing Verse 5 (Hikone)
7th panel showing Verse 6 (Chomeiji)
8th panel showing song monuments for Verses 1-3
9th panel showing song monuments for Verses 4-6
10th panel showing Oguchi Taro song monument and his grave and house in Okaya, Nagano.
11th panel showing photos of our song-related activities. Our first public performance, appearance on NHK Nodo Jiman, CD recording, etc.
12th panel showing photos of our song-related activities.
13th panel showing photos of Kyoto University Rowing Club rowing around Lake Biwa in Aug. 2006.
No Swimming遊泳禁止 - By now you must be getting sick of seeing this word "kinshi." Well, it's certainly not a pleasant word since it limits your freedom. But it also serves to keep you safe. The kanji in red reads "yūei kinshi" meaning "swimming (and playing in the water) prohibited." Below in black reads, "Koko wa suieijō dewa arimasen." This is not a place for swimming.

Place: Lake Biwa at Otsu, Shiga Pref.
Grave of Ueno Hikoma
Last panel showing news articles and Web pages and people singing the song.
Sumo Photo Museum 相撲写真資料館
Next to a portrait studio is a small garage with sumo photos on the walls.
Maibara Exhibition, July 19 - Aug. 3, 2007 at Lucci Plaza, Maibara, Shiga. Near Omi-Nagaoka Station. Photo exhibition poster.
Inside Sumo Photo Museum
Sumo Photo Museum
Eight exhibition panels in the spacious lobby.
1st panel for Verse 1 and explanation about the exhibition and English song.
2nd panel showing Verse 2 (Omatsu or Omi-Maiko)
3rd panel showing Verse 3 (Imazu)
5th panel showing Verse 4 (Chikubushima)
5th panel showing Verse 5 (Hikone)
6th panel showing Verse 6 (Chomeiji)
Do not Go Beyond the Buoysブイの外 危険 - It reads "Bui no soto kiken" which means "Dangerous to go beyond the buoy." The buoys in this case are the brightly-colored floating balls that mark the outer boundary of the safe swimming area. The water is usually too deep or the waves are too dangerous beyond this boundary. Almost all swimming beaches in Japan have some kind of outer boundary.

Place: Northern Lake Biwa, Shiga Pref.
Grave of Ueno Hikoma
7th panel showing photos of our song-related activities. Our first public performance, appearance on NHK Nodo Jiman, CD recording, etc. Also newspaper articles.
8th panel showing more newspaper articles, and guest book messages.
Exhibition title even on the rear side of the exhibition panels.
Shiga JET Art Show, March 20-23, 2008 at Biwako Bunkakan, Otsu, Shiga. Shiga's JET teachers held an art show and I provided photos for Jamie Thompson, a Shiga JET.
Biwako Bunkakan is the lakeside building that looks like a castle. Used to be an aquarium before it was converted into an art museum. Now closed.
Imazu Jr. High Lake Biwa Rowing Exhibition, July 1-30, 2008 at Imazu Public Library, Takashima, Shiga. I showed mainly photos of Imazu Jr. High's rowing club rowing across Lake Biwa from Nagahama to Imazu.
The exhibition was at the library entrance with a wall and three showcases.
On the wall, I had ten frames containing two A4-size photos each.
No BBQバーベキューは禁止です - The characters in red say, "barbecue wa kinshi desu." Having a barbecue is prohibited.

Place: Ohara beach, Chiba Pref.
Grave of Ueno Hikoma
Also see my photos of the Imazu Jr. High School Rowing Club rowing across Lake Biwa.
Center showcase
The center showcase introduced the Lake Biwa Rowing Song.
Center showcase (right part).
Left showcase
Right showcase
The left showcase introduced the traditional-style, wooden fixed-seat boat used to row across the lake.
Take Off Your Shoes土足厳禁 - It says "Dosoku genkin" or footware prohibited. "Dosoku" literally means dirty feet, and "genkin" is like "kinshi," meaning prohibited. So we have to take off our footwear before going up the stairs to see the second floor of this museum.

In most places, it will be obvious that you have to take off your shoes before entering the castle, museum, temple, etc. At the entrance hall, you will see a shelf to store shoes and indoor slippers lined up on the floor.

Place: Azuchi, Shiga Pref.
Grave of Ueno Hikoma
The right showcase showed photos of our activities.
Beware of Habu Snakesハブに注意 - "Habu ni chūi." Finally we see the third most common word on warning signs: Chui, meaning "beware of" or "watch out for." Habu is a species of poisonous snake common in Okinawa where this picture was taken.

Place: Okinawa
Photo museum
Announcement of photo contest winners フォトコンの授賞式The Kuusamo Nature Photo festival opened with the awards ceremony for the winners of the nature photo contest. Pictured here is one of the winning photos.

Beware of Jellyfishハブクラゲに注意しよう! - "Habu kurage ni chūi shiyō." Beware of jellyfish. In Okinawa, "habu kurage" (Chiropsalmus quadrigatus) is a type of poisonous jellyfish whose venomous sting can cause death.

Place: Taketomi island, Okinawa.
Photo museum
Kuusamo Nature Photo contest winners フォトコンの授賞式Lassi speaks with the winners of the nature photo contest. It's good to see both men and women photographers.

Beware of Wild Monkeys野生の猿にご注意 - "Yasei no saru ni go-chūi." "Yasei" means wild, and "saru" is monkey. Japan has a substantial population of wild monkeys which can be very aggressive in foraging for food, especially at tourist spots. They often steal food (sweets, etc.) from tourist shops and commonly grab any paper or plastic bag that you are carrying. If you see wild monkeys, you should not feed them nor carry any bags with your hands.

The sign also says "We cannot be responsible for any accidents caused by wild monkeys."

Place: Mt. Hiei Driveway, Kyoto.
Sept. 9, 2005: My first slide show. For my first slide show, titled "Nature in Japan," I gave a basic introduction to Japan (first with a map shown here), and showed my pictures of mountains (Mt. Fuji, Kamikochi, Mt. Fugendake), Lake Biwa... For my first slide show, titled "Nature in Japan," I gave a basic introduction to Japan (first with a map shown here), and showed my pictures of mountains (Mt. Fuji, Kamikochi, Mt. Fugendake), Lake Biwa, coastlines, popular nature spots, wildlife such as snow monkeys, and the four seasons, especially flowers.

Sept. 10, 2005: My second slide show was titled, "Nature Photography in Japan." It was a mixed bag of slides introducing a very basic history of landscape photography in Japan, photo galleries in Japan, and nature photo books and magazines... My second slide show was titled, "Nature Photography in Japan." It was a mixed bag of slides introducing a very basic history of landscape photography in Japan, photo galleries in Japan, and nature photo books and magazines in Japan (with a closeup on a book called Invisible Power by blind photographers in Japan).

With the slide pictured here (of Kameido Tenjin Shrine's wisterias in Tokyo), I was giving an example of how early Japanese landscape photographers were influenced by woodblock prints. They tried to photograph the scenes and compositions made famous by woodblock artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige.

Beware of Flashers!エッチマン注意! - Besides watching out for poisonous snakes, jellyfish, and wild monkeys as you saw in the previous images, there's one last wild animal to watch out for: the flasher. Apparently, this country neighborhood has had a flasher (a person who shows his genitals) so often that they put up this sign to warn female passers by.

The sign reads "H man chūi!" "H" is for "hentai" meaning pervert. "Man" is man, and you know what "chūi" means.

Place: Country road, northern Shiga Pref.
Sept. 10, 2005: My second slide show 僕のスライドショーその2I also mentioned a few important names in Japanese photography history such as Hikoma Ueno in Nagasaki who was one of Japan's first professional photographers.

Watch Out for Pickpockets!スリに御用心 - Another human animal to watch out for. "Suri ni go-yōjin!" means watch out for pickpockets! "Suri" means pickpocket, and "go-yōjin" is like "chūi."

Place: Takayama Festival, Gifu Pref.
Sept. 11, 2005: My third slide show introduced the works of three famous Japanese nature photographers. I devoted about 20 min. to each photographer. 僕のスライドショーその3My third slide show introduced the works of three famous Japanese nature photographers. I devoted about 20 min. to each photographer.

The first one was Mitsuhiko Imamori who takes pictures of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture where he lives. Since Finland has so many lakes, I wanted to show pictures of Japan's largest lake called Lake Biwa. I showed pictures from his photo book titled "Water's Edge."

I explained about how the lake was not just a container of water. It was actually very dynamic with the warm and cold water constantly circulating inside the lake. Many rivers and streams also are connected to the lake, which in turn supports much nature and wildlife in and around the lake nicknamed "Mother Lake." Imamori also focuses on how people co-exist with nature and respect it.
Web site:

3回目のスライドショーは、いよいよ3人の有名日本人写真家(今森光彦、中村郁夫、栗林慧)の作品を紹介しました。最初は今森先生で、「水辺」という写真集から二十数点の写真を上映しながら琵琶湖を紹介して 「生きている湖」、「里山」などの話をしました。フィンランドは、湖がとても多い国で日本の代表的な湖も紹介したかったのです。
The first one was Mitsuhiko Imamori who takes pictures of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture where he lives. Since Finland has so many lakes, I wanted to show pictures of Japan's largest lake called Lake Biwa.(寄贈図The pictures by Mitsuhiko Imamori which I showed in the slide show came from this book titled "Mizube" (Water's Edge). See book review here.

This book has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Mitsuhiko Imamori as recommended by Philbert Ono.
ISBN: 4418049118

No Bicycle/Motorcycle Parking駐輪禁止 - "Chūrin kinshi" in red characters mean two-wheeled vehicles cannot park here. In blue characters, it says "jitensha" (bicycles) and "ōtobai" (motorcycles and motor scooters).

Place: Street corner near a train station in Tokyo.
Sept. 11, 2005: The second photographer I introduced was Ikuo Nakamura, one of Japan's most well-known underwater photographers. I explained about how soil erosion and runoff killed a lot of coral in Okinawa together with the starfish... 僕のスThe second photographer I introduced was Ikuo Nakamura, one of Japan's most well-known underwater photographers. I explained about how soil erosion and runoff killed a lot of coral in Okinawa together with the starfish, a natural enemy of coral. Then I showed 20 of his pictures of coral and marine life in Okinawa.

It was an automatic slide show with Hawaiian music in the background. (A lot of people liked the Hawaiian music which was by Kealii Reichel, a very famous singer in Hawaii.) This was the only slide show of underwater photos at the Kuusamo Nature Photo festival.
Web site:

Book by Ikuo Nakamura (寄贈図書)The pictures by Ikuo Nakamura which I showed in the slide show came from this book titled "The Coral way Around Okinawa Islands." See book review here.

This book has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Ikuo Nakamura as recommended by Philbert Ono.
ISBN: 4757207824

No Smoking on Street路上喫煙はやめましょう - This is "Rojō kitsuen wa yamemashō." It means please don't smoke while walking on the street.

Place: Street corner near a train station in Tokyo.
Sept. 11, 2005: The third photographer I introduced was insect photographer Satoshi Kuribayashi who lives in Nagasaki Prefecture. He is an award-winning photographer who has published numerous photo books in Japan. 僕のスライドショーその3The third photographer I introduced was insect photographer Satoshi Kuribayashi who lives in Nagasaki Prefecture. He is an award-winning photographer who has published numerous photo books for the public and children in Japan.

I knew that insect photography was not so popular in Finland, but I believed that this photographer's work and technique would be very interesting to people in Finland, so I asked him to send some pictures and books to me. He happily obliged.

As I expected, his pictures (and DVD movie) were very well received by the audience in Kuusamo. First I showed some of his extreme closeup pictures of insects, then a few pictures of his custom-made cameras and him at work (as you see here). For the remaining 9 minutes of the slide show, I showed his fantastic DVD movie of insects.

Sample photos:
Migratory locust
Melon fly
Camponotus japonicus ant
Tiger beetle
Beetle in flight

His Web site:

最後に、栗林 慧先生の昆虫写真作品と興味深い手作りのカメラやその仕事ぶりを紹介してDVDの動画も一部上映しました。これもとても好評でした。北欧では昆虫写真はあまり人気ではないが、栗林先生の作品を見たら皆さんの関心が集めました。予想とおりでした。やはり昆虫も面白い。
Book by Satoshi Kuribayashi (寄贈図書)Some of the pictures by Satoshi Kuribayashi which I showed in the slide show came from this award-winning book titled "The World of Kuribayashi Satoshi." See book review here.

This book has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Satoshi Kuribayashi as recommended by Philbert Ono.
ISBN: 4054012507

Book by Satoshi KuribayashiThis book explains some of his shooting techniques and custom-made cameras. Notice his self-portrait with a real praying mantis. The book's title is, "The Cameraman Who Became an Ant."

DVD by Satoshi Kuribayashi (寄贈図書)During the slide show, I showed about 9 min. of this 18-min. DVD movie showing super closeups of various insects eating, fighting, or killing (another insect). Everyone thought it was quite amazing. See DVD review here.

This DVD has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Satoshi Kuribayashi as recommended by Philbert Ono.

Sample clips (Quicktime):
Locust eating
Praying mantis

Slide show さまざまなスライドショーOver 30 nature photographers, both men and women, from eight countries gave slide shows during two consecutive weekends in September 2005. It was a great pleasure meeting the photographers and making new friends. Photos of birds were very popular, but there were also photos of the aurora borealis, Arctic landscapes, bats, and even live music.

Northern lights slide show by Jorma Luhta オーロラの写真What would a nature photo festival in Finland be without photos of the aurora borealis? Wisely, they included some northern lights pictures. This Finnish photographer showed spectacular images of northern lights. Looks really surreal or like in a dream. Wish there was an English translation of his Finnish narration.
Web site: Jorma Luhta

Venue for exhibition by Estonian photographers エストニア人の写真展Besides Kuusamo Hall, other venues in Kuusamo were used for exhibitions like this one called Porkkatörmä. It has exhibition rooms on the first floor where Estonian photographers exhibited their works. The 2nd floor had a small museum introducing Kuusamo's local history.

Exhibition by Estonian photographers エストニア人の写真展In this room at Porkkatörmä gallery, pictures by Tõnu Ling and Tan Silliskaar.
Slide show by Estonian photographers エストニア人のスライドショーThe evening of September 12 was devoted to works by six Estonian photographers. Pictured is woman photographer Kaari Saarma.

The Estonian night climaxed with Tõnu Ling's live harmonica performance during an automated slide show of his beautiful pictures of his native Saaremaa and Muhumaa islands in Estonia.

Film of Hannu Hautala ハンヌ・ハウタラ氏On Friday September 16, it was Hannu Hautala night. It started with a film of Hannu at work in the wilderness. The film was beautifully accompanied by Heikki Sarmanto whose piano-playing reacted spontaneously to the film as he watched it.

Hannu Hautala ハンヌ・ハウタラ氏Hannu Hautala speaks.

Slide show by Hannu Hautala ハンヌ・ハウタラ氏He showed pictures from his upcoming photo book, "Onnen maa" (Land of Fortune) to be published in Oct. 2005 (see next image).

New book by Hannu Hautala, "Onnen maa" (Land of Fortune) ハンヌ・ハウタラの新写真集Cover of his new book published in Oct. 2005. The text is in Finnish, English, and German.

Sample photos and order at Articmedia.
Bird with firey eyes, by Rob Jordan ロブ・ジョーダン氏Yes, that's firey, not fiery. This bird has bright red eyes and also bright feather strands emanating from the eyes, making it look like fire. Rob's photo was also used on the program booklet (see next image). He is from the UK.
Web site:

Kuusamo Nature Photo 2005 Program プログラムCover of the program distributed free. It has the schedule of all the slide shows and introduces the photographers. Cover photo (bird with firey eyes) by Rob Jordan from the UK.

Below is the complete program schedule taken from this program (in Finnish only):

Friday, September 9
Musiikkiesitys klo 18 8 €
Muu ohjelma 19.15 alkaen 6 €
Alle 12 v. vapaa pääsy
Viikonloppukortti 9.-11.9. 35 €
Viikkokortti 9.-18.9. 70 €
Juontaja: Markku Heikkilä

17.00 Näyttelyjen avaus (vapaa pääsy)
Kuusamon kaupunginvaltuuston pj Matti Heikkilä
18.00 Ankaruusindeksi
musaa ja luontokuvia, DVD + live
Työryhmä: Käsmä-Harju-Salmirinne
Luontokuvat: Lassi Rautiainen
18.30 TAUKO (Intermission)
19.10 Nature Photo valokuvakisan tulokset 30’
Metsähallituksen puheenvuoro
Japanin luonnon esittelyä
Introduction to Nature in Japan Philbert "Phil" Ono, Japan 45’,
20.30 Tauko
21.00 Terra Borealis 50’, slides
Andy Horner, Ahvenanmaa
Yellowstone 20’ slides 6x4,5
Mara Fuhrmann, Saksa
22.15 Tauko
22.30 Päin seiniä
Jorma Luhta (ulkona, sateella sisällä)

Sat., September 10
Juontaja: Hannele Pappila
10.00 Avaus Hannele Pappila
10.15 Maisemakuvan traditioita
Ismo Luukkonen
11.00 Myyttinen maisema - kuvia saamelaisten
pyhistä paikoista
Arvid Sveen, Norja
11.45 Tunturi ja Meri – maisemakuvia Finnmarkista
Sonja Siltala, Norja
12.30 TAUKO
13.30 Luontomuseo
Ilkka Halso
14.15 Lost in between - pakolaisena pohjoisessa
Minna Kurjenluoma
15.30 Fields Studies
Martina Motzbächel
16.15 TAUKO
16.45 Maan ja taivaan välillä
Tauno Kohonen
17.30 Maisemakuvaajan ylä- ja alamäkiä
Kalervo Ojutkangas
18.00 TAUKO
18.15 - Japanilaisen luontokuvan traditioita
19.15 Nature Photography in Japan Philbert "Phil" Ono, Japan

Sun., September 11
Juontaja: Markku Heikkilä
10.00 Japanilaisten luontokuvaajien esittelyä 50’
Three Japanese Nature Photographers Philbert "Phil" Ono, Japan
Luontokuvii Turust - ei virallissi mut torellissi 20’
Markku Heikkilä
11.15 Tauko
11.30 Pohjoisen luontokuvaajat ry 50’
Luontoa läheltä - Erkki Toppinen
Mullan tuoksua ja purojen solinaa -
Markku Välitalo
Evoluutiota vai sattumaa? - Jari Wilenius
Digiuutisia, Canon 10’
12.30 Tauko
13.30 Saamenmaa, DVD-esitys Lapista 28’
Pekka Antikainen
Iceland, slides 6x4,5 35’
Mara Fuhrmann, Saksa
14.40 Tauko
15.00 Den extrema naturbilden 20’
Andy Horner, Ahvenanmaa, slides
Siipiveikot - tilannekuvia linnuista 30’, flap top
Tomi Muukkonen, Jari Peltomäki,
Markus Varesvuo
16.00 Päätös

Mon., September 12
Juontaja ja tulkki: Kaari Saarma
18.00-21.30 VIRON LUONTOA
Viron vuoden luontokuvat 10’
Eestimaa energiad: retk läbi aasta / Viron
energiat: retki läpi vuoden, 30’ Arne Ader
Precious moments with Estonian birds and
landscapes / Lintuja ja maisemia, 30’
Mati Kose
Tauko 15’
Mielikuvia ja mielitekoja – abstrakteja kuvia
luonnosta, 20’ Kaari Saarma
Luonto kaupunkilaisen silmissä, 20’
Heiko Kruusi
Tauko 15’
Tiny diversity / Hyönteisten maailmasta, 30’
Urmas Tartes
Maalaispojan maisemat 15’, Tõnu Ling

(September 13-14, optional photo safari trips)

Thu., September 15
Juontaja: Jaakko Heikkinen
Lepakot, Dietmar Nill 60’
Tauko 15’
Revontulet 30’ ja Kaakkuri 30’,
Hinrich Basemann
Tauko 15’
Paradise in Packice / Huippuvuorilla 50’
Karl-Heinz Georgi

Fri., September 16
Juontaja: Jaakko Heikkinen
18.00 Sävystä sävyyn - erämaan hengessä
Kuvanauhalle leikattu valokuvaesitys luonnon
väreistä livenä soitetun pianon säestyksellä
Kuvat: Hannu Hautala
Piano: Heikki Sarmanto
Kuvanauhan leikkaus: Lauri Kettunen
18.45 Tauko
19.00 Onnen Maa 40’
Hannu Hautala
Kaksi taivasta 20’
Fabrizio Carbone, Italia
20.00 Tauko
20.30 Safareilla
Annelie Utter, Ruotsi
21.30 Tauko
21.45 Kotkia ja muita lintuja
Der wilde Osten – von Schreiadler, Seeadler und
vielen andere fliegende Vögel
Dietmar Nill, Saksa

Sat., September 17
Juontaja: Juha Säkkinen
10.00 Digimaailma
Sakari Nenye
11.15 Tauko
11.30 Digimaailma jatkuu
12.45 Safareilla 20’
Annelie Utter
13.10 Tauko
14.00 Namibian Farytale / Namibiassa 35’
Karl-Heinz Georgi, Saksa
Arktis 30’
Hinrich Basemann, Saksa
15.10 Tauko
15.20 The secret lake of the firey eyes / Palavien
silmien salaperäinen järvi
Rob Jordan, Englanti
16.30 Tauko
17.00 Luontolyriikkaa
Heikki Sarmannon sävellyksiä suomalaiseen
lyriikkaan (mm. Leino ja Hellaakoski)
Piano: Heikki Sarmanto
Solisti: Maija Hapuoja
Kuvitus: Kaamoskamera:
Paavo Hamunen, Mika Jaakkola, Matti Jääskö, Heikki Ketola, Ritva Larikka, Janne Moilanen, Verner Nivala, Marketta Tornberg ja Petteri Törmänen

Sun., September 18
Juontaja: Juha Säkkinen
Teema: luontofilmit
10.00 Paimen ja kitara, musavideo 4’
Johannes Lehmuskallio
Paimen-filmi 60’
Markku ja Johannes Lehmuskallio
11.15 Tauko
11.30 Digivideo, Lauri Kettunen
12.30 Tauko
13.00 Nenetsien kulttuuria 10’
Seitsemän laulun matkassa, filmi 25’
(Pekka Martevo)
Uhri, filmi 52’
Anastasia Lapsui, Johannes ja Markku Lehmuskallio
14.40 Tauko
15.00 Korpi – legenda Ludvig Löppösestä
video 30’
Pekka Koskinen ja työryhmä
15.40 Päätös
Canon booth スポンサーのブースCanon was one of the festival sponsors and had a booth in Kuusamo Hall where they proudly displayed the new EOS 5D full-frame digital SLR camera. It was here where I held this new camera for the first time and salivated. First thing you notice is the huge viewfinder picture. And it's only slightly larger than the EOS 20D.

キヤノンが一つのスポンサーであった。出たばかりのEOS 5Dも展示された。
Photo books for sale フィンランドの写真集の即売Nature photo books published in Finland and by some of the photographers featured at the festival were also displayed for sale. The next few images show a few of the books that were available (and which I bought).

Kuusamo Luontokaupunki, by Paavo Hamunen, Hannu Hautala, and Lassi Rautiainen クーサモの写真集I first saw this book at the Finnish Tourist Board's office in Tokyo (Imperial Hotel) which I visited before going to Finland. I think it is the only nature photo book about Kuusamo with Japanese text. It also has text in Finnish, Russian, and Italian (but no English!).

It shows pictures of the best nature spots in and around Kuusamo such as Julma Ölkky, Kitkajoki River, and Näränkä, the three places I visited (or experienced) while in Kuusamo (click on links to see my pictures). Published by Articmedia in 2000.
ISBN: 951-98612-0-3

To Everything a Season, by Hannu Hautala and Markku Lappalainen 写真家ハンヌ・ハウタラHannu Hautala is Finland's most well-known nature photographer. Even in Helsinki's biggest bookstore, you can find a "Hannu Hautala" postcard rack.

I also had the pleasure of meeting him and visiting his home/office. He has been to Japan twice where he photographed Japanese cranes in Hokkaido and snow monkeys in Nagano. He also has a substantial collection of Japanese nature photo books. He is very warm-hearted and well-liked by everyone.

This book is in English (that's why I bought it), and it shows pictures of Finland's nature, wildlife, and landscapes for each month of the year from January to December. The text is also interesting as it explains the daily and seasonal lives of the wildlife. Published by Otava in Finland. ISBN: 951-1-14888-5

フィンランドの一番有名なネイチャー写真家であるハンヌ・ハウタラ氏(Hannu Hautala)の写真集。英語版で1月から12月のフィンランドの自然を紹介している。野鳥や風景が多い。クーサモ在住のハウタラ氏は、とても優しい人。
My Bears, by Lassi Rautiainen フィンランドのヒグマの写真集Lassi is the main man behind the Kuusamo Nature Photo festival. He is also a well-known nature photographer in Europe and his special passion is bears ("karhu" in Finnish).

This is his photo book of "his" bears in the Finnish (and maybe Russian) wilderness photographed from his bear hides (wildlife observation huts). The text is in four languages including English. One of the first things he says in the book is that bears are not dangerous. They do not attack people. Well, that's not true in Japan. Bears do attack and kill people in Japan. People picking mushrooms in the mountains or even in their backyard near a mountain can be vulnerable.

Bear attacks are often widely reported in Japan's news media. So I was surprised to hear that bears in Finland are afraid of people and run away when they see humans. Finland has about 1,000 brown bears. Happily, I saw two of them during a bear-watching trip conducted by Lassi.

The book is quite interesting. Lassi gives colorful names to all the bears he has seen. There's Flathead, Ruffled-head, Little Boy, Beefcake, and Split-ear, Finland's most photographed bear. Split-ear's right ear has a little V-notch on the tip. He got it by tearing off the tag that a bear researcher had tacked on.

Lassi also tells interesting stories about the mating practices of the bears (occurring in May-June), and about his own encounters with the bears. The book also shows pictures of wolverines which look like badgers. I was lucky to observe and film a wolverine at a bear hide. There are only a few hundred of them in the Nordic region.

Lassi is a great nature storyteller and often humorous. And I read this book from cover to cover with great interest. Published by his company, Articmedia. ISBN: 951-95376-6-X

「僕のヒグマ」という写真集で、フィンランドで撮ったヒグマの写真。写真家のラッシー・ラウティアイネン氏(Lassi Rautiainen)は長年のヒグマのオタク。クーサモのネィチャーフォト祭りの実行委員長でもある。面白い方です。
Kuusamo Hall lobby ホールのロビーHanging on the 2nd floor balconey on the right is a teepee made of reindeer skin. Reindeer skin is very strong and can last many years. It also keeps the teepee warm.

This teepee exhibit was presented by Markku and Johannes Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui. They brought a whole load of other things (see following images) and photos to display at Kuusamo Hall.

Native clothing of Nenets tribe ネネッツ族の衣類The Nenets tribe live in the polar region of northwestern Siberia in Russia. They are Arctic reindeer pastoralists with huge herds of reindeer. Their faces look Asian or Mongoloid.

This exhibit of Nenets clothing (made of reindeer skin/fur) was presented by Markku and Johannes Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui who studied and filmed the Nenets and other tribes.

They brought a whole load of other exhibits (see next image) to Kuusamo Hall.

Instruments and implements of the Nenets tribe ネネッツ族の展示Drum and other implements.

This exhibit was presented by Markku and Johannes Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui who studied and filmed the Nenets and other tribes.
Pipe made of mammoth bone ネネッツ族の展示This exhibit was presented by Markku and Johannes Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui who studied and filmed the Nenets and other tribes.
Kuusamo newspaper "Koillis sanomat" 地元の新聞Since it was one of the sponsors, the local newspaper wrote about the nature photo festival daily. I even got interviewed for a story. They asked me questions like how they can attract more Japanese tourists to Kuusamo. I replied that we need more direct flights from Tokyo to Helsinki. (There are only two a week via Finnair as of this writing.)

Lunch (reindeer meat) 肉はトナカイKuusamo Hall also has a restaurant serving good food.

Finnish sauna tent サウナOn September 10, they took us all to dinner to a place near a lake. After dinner (reindeer meat), we went to this sauna in a large tent.

Inside Finnish sauna サウナの中This is what it looked like (before we all entered stark naked).
Inside Finnish sauna サウナの中It got very foggy inside as they kept splashing water on the hot rocks. It didn't get very hot, but it was interesting. Lots of steam and only a single light illuminated inside the sauna.

Path to lake サウナの後は冷たい湖へA Finnish sauna is always near a lake. After the sauna, you supposed to take a dip in the freezing lake. I went to the lake but declined to go in.

Aurora! オーロラ!We were very lucky to see the northern lights that evening too. September is usually still too early for the northern lights to appear, but there it was.

It was a greenish veil of light floating in the black sky and ever-changing in shape. It doesn't make any sound. It was my first time to see northern lights. In Finnish, they call it "fox tail."

The orange stream on the lower left is actually steam (or smoke) coming out of the sauna tent. It's not part of the aurora. I don't think I could've taken this picture with a film camera. It was too dark.

Aurora over the lake オーロラと湖Seeing the aurora in the sky and reflected on the lake was simply awesome.

Photo books from Japan donated to Kuusamo Public Library. 日本からの写真集を現地の図書館へ寄贈。This was our backstage lounge at Kuusamo Hall. Before donating a bunch of Japanese nature photo books to the Kuusamo public library, I left them in this lounge where the other participating photographers could look at them during slide show breaks. Three of the books (and one DVD) were donated by the three photographers I introduced in my third slide show. The rest were bought and donated by me. The images following show what books I donated.

Invisible Power, by blind photographers (クーサモ図書館への寄贈図書)I showed some pages in this book during my 2nd slide show in Kuusamo. The pictures in the book were taken by blind photographers. It includes a few pictures which are embossed so that the blind can touch and feel the pictures. This book has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Philbert Ono.

この写真集もPhotoGuide Japanがクーサモ町の図書館へ寄贈しました。

Here is my book review:

For most of us, going blind is one of our worst fears. Especially for a photographer. After all, how can you take pictures and look at pictures if you're blind?

Ask a blind photographer to answer such questions. Yes, there are blind photographers. How do they do it? Well, imagine how you would take pictures if you were blind. First, your ears would serve as a guide. By listening carefully, you can tell where the subject is and how far away. If you want to photograph a person, take the picture when you hear laughter. Your ears can serve well as a guide to when to take the shot.

For still-life subjects, you can touch the object (flowers, etc.) and decide which angle to photograph it from. If you're waiting for a sunrise, feel the heat of the sun on your skin before taking the picture. You can also discern which direction the sun is in. Besides using your other four senses, a major boon is having a seeing person tell you what's going on and when to take the picture.

And that's how they do it. It's truly amazing how adaptive and strong humans can be to overcome any kind of handicap. The same applies to the blind. In Tokyo, sometimes I see a blind person taking a subway or train. You know how difficult it is even for seeing people to navigate through all those crowds in the train/subway stations? There are pimpled tiles on the ground to guide the blind, but still, the blind are truly awesome to venture out by themselves. It is the "unseen or invisible power." Of course, we all have it, but most of us don't really know how to tap into it.

As for the question of how a blind person can "see" photographs, this book gives the answer. Besides regular color photographs, it includes nine pictures that you can touch and feel. They are embossed images (that smell like rubber), and each one is captioned in Braille. The book claims to be the first photo book in Japan to include such images for the blind. All the pictures are of typical subjects that most amateurs in Japan pursue: Mt. Fuji, cherry blossoms, festivals, flowers, family and friends, children, and even fireworks. You can't help but be impressed by the quality of the photos while knowing that they were all taken by a blind person.

The book says that photography by blind people started with the invention of fully automatic cameras and embossed printing technology. There is a special copying machine (rittai kopii-ki) that can produce an embossed image of the copied photograph.

The photographs in the book come from the best ones that have been shown at the annual blind photographers exhibition held annually in the past 15 years in Tokyo. The common reaction of most visitors to these exhibitions is, "Blind people taking pictures? I don't believe it!" Their disbelief soon turns into admiration, and the common notion that blind people cannot take pictures is totally dispelled. Such is the power of the blind, not only in being able to take pictures, but in also affecting normal seeing people in positive ways.

The National Blind Photographers Exhibition (Zenkoku Mojin Shashin-ten) was first held in 1985 in Tokyo. Over 200 pictures by blind people all over Japan are submitted and a panel of judges select about 60 pictures for the exhibition held every Dec. in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The exhibition displays each photograph in two ways. There's the normal photograph, and then there's an embossed version (made by the special copying machine) of the same picture that the blind can touch and feel with their fingers.

The exhibition is not only about the photographs themselves, but also about the determination and effort by the blind and the loving support of family members. It's about the people behind the camera and about tapping that "power" that lies within (usually dormant for most of us). The exhibition is supported by corporations (like Minolta which developed the special copying machine), organizations, and prominent pro photographers. The honorary chairman of the panel of judges is Prince Mikasa, a relative of the Emperor. Personally, I think it's just fantastic that blind people are able to take pictures and look at them. Having a means of self-expression is so important to all humans. (Reviewed by Philbert Ono)
Birds of Hokkaido, by Tadashi Shimada (クーサモ図書館への寄贈図書)Great collection of various birds photographed in Hokkaido, Japan's northern-most island. See book review here.

This book has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Philbert Ono.

この写真集もPhotoGuide Japanがクーサモ町の図書館へ寄贈しました。
Northland Japanese Cranes, by Masahiro Wada (クーサモ図書館への寄贈図書)Beautiful pictures of this favorite bird of Japan in very scenic locations, mainly Hokkaido. In Japanese, this bird is called "tancho." See book review here.

This book has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Philbert Ono.

この写真集もPhotoGuide Japanがクーサモ町の図書館へ寄贈しました。
All Scenic Spots of Mt. Fuji, by T. Watanabe (クーサモ図書館への寄贈図書)Mt. Fuji is of course Japan's symbol and most beautiful mountain. It is a favorite subject among many photographers because it affords an infinite variety of angles and views from which you can photograph it. Not to mention the different times of day and the different seasons when you can capture the mountain. Of course, you can also climb it.

This little book contains an excellent variety of beautiful Mt. Fuji photos.

This book has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Philbert Ono.

この写真集もPhotoGuide Japanがクーサモ町の図書館へ寄贈しました。
Shiki no Shashin (Four Seasons Photo) magazine (クーサモ図書館への寄贈図書)This is a magazine dedicated to nature photography in Japan. It is published every two months.

This Aug./Sept. 2005 issue has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Philbert Ono.

この雑誌もPhotoGuide Japanがクーサモ町の図書館へ寄贈しました。
Fukei Shashin (Landscape Photo) magazine (クーサモ図書館への寄贈図書)This is a magazine dedicated to landscape and nature photography in Japan. It is published every two months.

This July/Aug. 2005 issue has been donated to the Kuusamo public library by Philbert Ono.

この雑誌もPhotoGuide Japanがクーサモ町の図書館へ寄贈しました。
Kuusamo Library クーサモ図書館This is the public library in Kuusamo to which I donated a bunch of Japanese nature photo books, magazines, and a DVD (see the previous images).

Before leaving for Finland, I requested and received a photo book from the three Japanese photographers I featured in my third slide show. I also went to a large bookstore in Tokyo and scoured all the Japanese nature photo books. I bought some books I thought would be of interest in Finland. I packed all the books in my suitcase, and when I checked in at Finnair at Narita Airport (Tokyo), they told me that my suitcase was overweight by 6 kg or so and I would have to pay extra. I asked how much, and she said 40,000 yen (about $300).

I couldn't believe it. I almost went ballistic. First I made sure that I heard correctly: "You mean 4,000 yen ($30) right?" No, it was 40,000 yen. I panicked inside, but tried to remain calm. Then I dropped down and opened my suitcase on the spot and took out 6 kg worth of books and stuffed them in a large plastic bag which they kindly provided.

Now I had two pieces of carry-on luggage and one lighter suitcase weighing right below the 25kg limit. "Fine" she said, and I was happy even though I was slightly weighed down.

It was worth the trouble because I later found out that the Kuusamo library had no photo books from Japan. But now they do.
Library Web site:


Kuusamon Kansanopisto 宿泊先This is where most of us stayed in Kuusamo during the nature photo festival. It was almost right across the street from Kuusamo Hall, making it very convenient and economical. It's near a supermarket and restaurants. It's like a hostel with communal showers, toilets, and kitchen. Breakfast was good too. Normally open during summer.
Web site:

Shower, toilet, and rubber broom シャワーとトイレThe floor of the shower area is the same as the toilet's. After taking a shower, we have to use a rubber broom (upper right corner) to sweep the water to the drain. I still don't understand why we have to do this and why the shower does not have a separate floor. Apparently this is common in Finland especially in older buildings.

Manga display in Kuusamo bookstore クーサモにもマンガApparently, manga (comics from Japan) is popular even in Kuusamo. In English, we call this character Astro Boy. In Japanese, "Tetsuwan Atom."

The 2nd CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging Show was held during a cold winter of Feb. 9-13, 2011.
Canon booth
Canon booth in a central location.
The Canon booth employed a few pretty girls to introduce their latest D-SLRs (EOS Kiss X5 and X50) and Ivis video camera.
Canon girl
Canon girl showing off the latest consumer camcorder.
Canon girl poses for camera-toting gawkers.
Canon also held a talk show featuring actress Takeshita Keiko.
Canon booth's talk show featuring actress Takeshita Keiko. The talk show had two young photographers whom Takeshita interviewed. The show was later televised on NTV on Feb. 11.
Panasonic Lumix girl at CP+ 2011 Camera Show.
Lumix girl
FujiFilm used this girl and set to demo their 3D camera.
Pentax girl at CP+ 2011 Camera Show.
Pentax girl at CP+ 2011 Camera Show.
Sony booth had cyclists and models.
Hakuba girl at CP+ 2011 Camera Show.
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