To plant a garden...

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

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There is this curious thing happening when you stay fews days in a row at the same place when you travel. You start to know every streets and shops around, you got news habits, peoples recognize you at the cafe and some restaurants you already been.

This morning I went to the Ferry office to buy a ticket for my trip to zamami island. A fair walk under the sun made me discover an other part of the city. The less touristic Okinawa. Like many cities in Japan, concrete imposed his style but I'm always surprise to cross a garden here and there which break the concrete monotony. I won't call that the perfect balance but the contrast is very surprising. It's like finding some small glimpses of a forgotten past.

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I've localized one of these garden on the map and decided to have a look to it. After all I don't have much to do, I'm waiting the day I'll take the ferry for my next adventure. By the way, im receiving some "big waves weather notification" from japan weather center, i hope they won't cancel it. 

First I found what I thought was the garden and I have to admit that I was quite disappointed as it was looking like a normal garden square to me. After walking a bit through it I've noticed a beautiful wall and a gate! Ha! That's the garden I was looking for!

I've crossed the gate and wah... That was like stepping in a other world, in an other time! A peaceful place where you could stay forever.

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What is the most remarkable is that even surrounded by the city the garden is keeping is authenticity. From the garden watching through the window is like beiing able to see from the other side. It's a strange feeling to watch the busy city from their.

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I've stayed quite a while walking around and chilling, watching the fishes in the pond, the turtles. This garden is like a beating heart for the city but you need to find it. It's not that far from the city center but it's almost like it need to find you more than you will find it. For a long time I was by myself walking around, some gardeners working.

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I was hungry and thirsty, time to eat something, walking back to the entrance gate I've noticed a other path I didnt follow. Ok 5 minutes just to make sure I saw everything, and I didn't. There was a garden hidden in the garden with 2 big pagodes dedicated to Budha.

The 5 minutes became an hour. Time to jump back to reality, really need to eat something, i went for a burger... But a Japenese burger, not very typical Japenese food, but that was good.

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I had to change capsule style, that was a very comfy one, I really enjoyed it! Thihs one was big as a king size, just close by a curtain.

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later that night before going for diner I heard sone noise in the streets some people were singing. Let's have a look!

I honestly have no idea of what it was, if you have any hints, please let me know!

Stop doing, start being.

So where is the Ocean, where are all these fabulous beaches I saw on googles pictures ? 

The Ocean is definitely surrounding the beautiful city of Naha but after checking yesterday at the tourism center it seem that the closest beach is 40min away by bus. The tourist officer recommended me a trip to the kerama island which I'm planning to do next week! Scuba diving Ya!!!

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I've heard that a typhoon was coming in the next days. Let see how it goes!

Today, I've decided to take a day off! Haha Yeah..

I mean not visiting much, walking randomly in the city as I like to do. Behind the market I found few typicals streets with a lot of pottery shops, workshops.

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The sun was high and no one was in the street, my guess : everyone is taking a nap!!! The cats were taking a naps.

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It's been almost a week that I arrived in Okinawa. The weather is good as the people always smiling and welcoming. Chilling around when you are in holiday is the best. No stress of what you should or shouldn't visit. By trying making the most of our time we sometime miss the most important, the now. 

 Stop doing, start being...

 When I red this sentence few days ago it seems so simple and obvious. We are all busy doing things, working, acting socially, chating, walking, always trying to find something to be busy with. When I say "we" I should say "I".

Since I've start working years ago, focusing on my career, I stopped being. I got busy over the years and I missed something essential "Being". I forgot what I really like to do. I was always aiming for better, more and better. When you think about it there is alway better somewhere and we can always get more. But that's like chasing something you will never aim.

Recently I was writing about how I've discovered meditation, in a way that make me realize that I should stop doing and start being.

That's not an easy one to recenter oneself. This might be why I choosed to travel alone, to feel and to be again in the present moment.

Being by myself force me to think silently, to look around and to be more aware of my surrounding,  to notice small things in my daily life. Travelling a new country is a way for me to shake up my cue, my habits. It's a way to meet me again, a way to be.

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On my way back, I've walked by a square garden with a giant rope.

Walking around I found few workshops, that was the Naha craft center with craft shop and workshops. I could stay hours to watch them worked. A glass-blower(not sure if its the right name in English) and a craft potter... You can book some time with them and learn how to...

If you are wondering what are these small/big statues half lion/dog you can find in front of all houses In Okinawa, they are called Shi-sa.

A protection against some evils.

You can learn to make one with the craft potter. 

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Would you try one of these workshops?

 

 

The high Castle ...

Wake up early... No not yet, still feeling the jetlag but this is way better...

God thanks to my new earplugs I could rest last night! After saying hello to the cleaning team and a good shower it's time to visit! I've heard that there is a nice castle to visit, not far.

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First, I thought that I could do the 55min walk there. After 20 minutes under the sun and 10 liters of myself evaporated somewhere, I crossed the path of the monorail! Thanks god of the monorail!!! Cheap and efficient!

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Still 15min of walk to the high Castle, going up, going up! I'm calling it like that because is up a hill. You can actually see it from the monorail when you get off.

A castle is a castle beautiful piece of history, big wall!!! Nice garden. 

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Unfortunately the castle was under renovation, but I could visit inside.  As a good French who used to live in Fontainebleau, I'm used to castle stuff, yes we got one there and it's a beautiful one, fully furnished. I think it might be the most furnish in France. No kidding.

Anyway I highly recommend!

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This is the second castle I'm visiting in Japan (I've visited one in Kyoto last year) and I've noticed that they are not really what we can call furnished. Instead you walk on the path of the king and queen in beautiful rooms withs Tatamis(for who knows me, you know that I truly love tatami and futon bed), most of them open windows to a very nice garden and some bonsai, some funny old dready tree. Beautiful and peaceful.  On your way some rooms are exhibiting old kimonos and furnitures, the tea set used to celebrate new year eve. 

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While walking outside the castle a guard called me. He wanted to make sure that I won't miss the dragon fountain where the king used to drink and explain me that I could visit as well this beautiful garden, on the left other there, few staircases... 

After thanking him, I went to the left, few staircases and discover a beautiful garden with a point of view of the city. 

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Did i mention that it was damn hot!!! Yes? It was damn hot! like my hat was melting with my hair. 

Anyway, walking in this garden, alone, meeting only some (a lot indeed) dragonflys was so relaxing and peaceful.

Oh of course, I never found the dragon king fountain...haha... Classic! 

Some Archaeological excavations ☝️☝️☝️ (when someone lost his wallet in Japan this is serious stuff 😀)

Back in town center with my favorite Okinawa transportation (yes the monorail), I'm enjoying a nice moka writing this article.

 But wait I was about to forgot my "interaction of the day" : while coming back a blind man was waiting at the crossway where a car was waiting to let him pass. The 2 girls in the car point to me and to the guy apparently asking me to tell him that the way was safe! Luckily he was speaking English haha! I think I scared him with my big voice... But he crossed the road safely! The two girls wave at me with a big smile to say thank you! 

Time to speak about food.

So far I've been lucky finding random restaurants. I'm snacking at lunch time, which is breakfast for me (you know the jetlag).

Tonight That was really good! I loved it! Good peoples, good food!!! Sometimes walking randomly give you a very nice meal! ;) The place is called 'Mahobora'. I highly recommend it if you like noodles!

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Later this night, I was at the onsen while my dirty clothes were in the washing machine. There is two baths, one is a 41°c and the other one is about 15°c. I usually only go in the 41°c which is quite relaxing. But this time I tried the 15°c, oh my god!!! So cold, slowly but surely I made it and immerse me a long five minutes in it! Victory!!! 

 Did you ever tried Japenese Onsen?

Let sea ...Okinawa ...

This time I've set my alarm clock to 8am...

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And ... I woke up at 12am, hearing the cleaning team working outside my capsule. "Housekeeping, housekeeping ...."  A cleaner is singing.

It's seem that here in Okinawa everything is related to music.

Every morning there is a very organise team cleaning and changing the sheets of every cabins/capsules. We are suppose to be out by 10am to let them work peacefully... Well, I'll try again tomorrow...

The jetlag is there and it was really difficult to sleep last night. I've forgot that sometime it can be noisy, people going in and out all night despite the tiny thin curtain you can hear everything...it remembered me to buy some earplugs...   

Today, I went to see the Ocean ... That's what I thought... 

On my way to the Ocean I cross a fabulous small garden with some really nice intricate trees... Some old peoples were playing tennis, some cats were taking a break... A cat break ... 

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Then I arrived to what I thought was the Ocean, the blue part on google map I was aiming for! You know... Well that was more a highway to the Ocean... A lot of highways indeed...

But from far I could see a rock, a big rock and on this big rock, something looking like a shrine! 

When I arrived there I found a small beach, under the highway bridge, few peoples having fun swimming in the water and playing volleyball.

I finally made it to the shrine after taking few staircases. When I enter it, not much tourists.

A couple was waiting on the side. After few minutes a priest came with some encens and start to pray with them. 

He's holding a bell and sometime he's ringing it. 

And again, and again, faster and faster, like a crescendo.

He started to sing and pray and ring the bell again...

Time is suspended, I'm thinking for whom is this prayer ? A son, a daughter ? A father, a mother...

After maybe 10 minutes the bell is not ringing anymore, the priest is quiet... 

Time is back to normal. 

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A day like that, under the sun, walking around, there is always something to look at. I really enjoy looking at people daily life and taking pictures.

It's been almost a year that I'm not taking that much pictures of peoples. I did some nice polaroid experiments but my Fuji XE-2 was on the shelf lonely. 

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Today I took few shots, slowly trying to tame my 35mm and my eyes again. I really like this focale because you need to be in the action and you need to be close to your subject, to interact and take some risk in a way. Taming the wild animal. This year was a year of reading and I red some interviews about photography with Cartier-Bresson, he was saying something like :

"It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera... they are made with the eye, heart and head."

 Yes that is true, for me there is always a story I can remember behind a photography I take. This is the moment and the now. Im not saying it's always a good story. But this moment is one shot, one clic, one story.

I ended up my day walking around in the center of the town, this is alway a special time when the sun start to go to sleep, the sky is becoming pink, the road is crowded of people looking for a place to eat.

You're wondering what this man is doing on this video.... No kidding, me too! I'll find out soon by testing these yummy cookies.

On my way back to my hotel, I found this nice and friendly restaurant. I have to say indeed that they found me haha! Most of the restaurant have a Japenese menu so it's always hard to know what will be serve, but walking by this one a friendly waiter invite me to have a look to an English menu version. A beer, some chicken and this very nice rice/eggs/pork/tofu, that was a delicious diner, eating in front of the cook at the bar doing giants flames while grilling some chicken!

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 Tell me what's your favorite Japenese food?

And yes I bought some professionals earplugs! 

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Good morning Okinawa ...

Good morning Okinawa! It's 2pm.

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After a comfortable long night in my capsule and postponing ten time my alarm clock initially set to 8am, time to wake up and explore Naha Okinawa. 

Shower, put some adequate clothes and go! 

Wait ... 

It's raining!

Damned!  Hopefully everything is ready in Japan and I could buy an umbrella at the hotel lobby. A nice transparent umbrella! 

 Ok where to go? I'm right in the middle of the city. Maybe let's have a look to the Ocean. 

A step outside... Wooow that's hot and humide, it remember Hong-kong in a way... it's around 3pm and there is no one in the city, where are the people... Certainly inside enjoying the aircon, ha wait... Working maybe !

While walking under the rain in small streets, I always choose to walk the smalls streets and I always got lost...haha... So I got lost... But while walking in the street I realize that a lot of cars were behind waiting patiently walking at my pace, so I put myself to the side to let them keep going. That's might sound nothing but for me that what I like in Japan, call that as you like, I call that Japenese courtesy. No horn, no sad face... Just wait... There is so many countries where even one car would have used his horn to warn me that I was on his way. Not here! 

That make me smile. Welcome to Japan I thought.

 After few minutes chasing for a coffee place I found a Starbucks. I know, not really typic Japenese but they have coffee and I needed my daily americano !

Originally while planning my time in Okinawa, no I'm kidding, I didn't plan a thing! Haha ...

I've finally choosed to stay around and to have a long walk in the city center. I've discover a very nice cover market which remember be a lot one I visited in kyoto, but this one seem to be way bigger with more small corner and dead ends, you can find a lot of variety of food and a lot of shop for everything. I've crossed the road of an old lady who was selling some complex origamis Tupi.

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I really like the mix of colors of the building under a shiny sun on a rainy day . From every shop you cross on the main street and under the market you can here some music wich are quite different along the walk, that give you this really funny feeling.

From afar, I see a man, salary man dancing in front of a small LCD Tv, trying to mimic the dance of a Japenese Boys band. Thay look to be a quite serious business and he's doing well haha!!!

back in the Starbucks to write this articles while looking at thr windows, the main street is crowded now, it's around 6pm and the sun is on his way to go to sleep. Through few clouds i can see the end of the light day.

This is time to find a place to eat diner. Along the street waiters are waiting to show you some menu but today I've choose to go back to eat at the hotel and enjoy a nice onsen bath.  

 Good night Okinawa...

  

The day I left ...

Time to put the hat back on.

 Good bye London !!!

Good bye London !!!

After a year living in this beautiful flat in London, I'm waking up in the couch. The flat is empty, next to the fire place my 38L backpack and my scuba gear... Ready to go... 

The last few days were weird, I don't know how to explain that. I guess this is always like that when you live somewhere for a year. You want to go but you got this nostalgic feeling, maybe you don't want to stay, maybe you're only scare to go somewhere else. 

After handling the keys of my flat to the inventory clerck, last good by to Belsize park by having a nice breakfast at Gail and I jumped in the tube direction airport! I'm sitting now next to the duty free enjoying a glass of champagne to celebrate my first day of traveling :)

Not bad especially after I realize that by mistake my family name and name were inverted on my flight booking :) Finally it wasn't an issue.

After 11 hours sitting in between the airplane windows and a chatty grandma going for the first time in Korea to meet his grandson, I made it to Seoul airport. One hour after I was in a plane direction Okinawa and arrived there around 6pm, grabbed a pocket wifi(a bit expensive to hire but honestly worth it), asked for direction, jumped in the monorail while realizing that I didn't really know where I was going... finally made it to my capsule hotel, shower, something to eat ... Meditation .... Good night!  

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First night in my capsule.

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Let's grab some food.

Why I love sitting and reading in a cafe?

That might be a totally french thing but one of my favorite hobbies, passion, things I love to do is to sit in a cafe, grab a book and read.

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Anywhere I've been so far I always find a place I like to go for coffee and book reading.  I like to feel life around me, to look at people around, to smell tea, coffee. This is very relaxing, almost like you are becoming the only spectator of life and time moving around you while you stay still.

I'm usually staying an hour or so and often realize that I didn't read as much as I expected but watched life around ! 

There is always a lot of going on. That's remind me this poem from Charles Beaudelaire : 'La passante' describing a stranger he's watching passing by, I always been intrigues by the intimate connection he had with the woman he's describing, like he knew her since 20 years.

I find people fascinating when you watch closely, that's why I like to do photography, if you're lucky, the magics happen, the perfect timing, funny or intimate moments, "un regard", a look, a smile.

It's been a year now that I'm coming almost every weekend to the Hampstead Waterstone upstair cafe.  That's where I'm writing this at the moment. Being surrounded by books  and readers is very pleasant! I love the smell of the books stack up on there shelves waiting for someone to read them, annoted them, walk away with them. The mix color is a beautiful patchwork for the eyes!

Suddenly two kids are running around the tables laughing making this place their new Castle maybe.

I like to fold cranes when I'm here, it became a habit which was noticed by the waitress as I always leave the cranes where I'm folding it and often taking a pictures of it as a memory.

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And you what's your favorite place ?

Less is more ...

Over the last months and few reads, after 1 year of work in London. I've chosen to go on travel again for a long period.  Why? 

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Less is More ...

 

Minimalist traveller.

I'm 43 year old, single, working in the Visual effect industry and I'm sitting a fair amount of hours in front of the computer all day long. 

When basics questions came to you regularly as 'What should I do with my life ?', or 'Does this job is for me?' 'Should I go back to France to live there ?' 'What's next ?'. It's usually time to answers them but that's not that easy. My first thought was: I need to travel?, escape ? discover myself, I don't know. 

One day after lunch it hit me! My flat tenancy in London was ending in September, my contract jobs a month later, that seemed to be a perfect timing. So : Let's go! But where ?

Being in Japan last year during a month, I really enjoyed it and felt that I had more to discover there. I've started meditation (yes ... can you imagine a year ago..it changed my life by the way...), Origami and did a lot of read about Japan this year : Zen, Japanese arts, Japanese cultures.

So why not going back to Japan I thought!, but why not take the time to visit all. Starting by Okinawa to do some scuba diving and finishing at Hokkaido to do some skiing. (I know that sound already too expensive....but let see..). South to North.

Three months seemed to me the perfect amount of time to road trip Japan and most important to be back in France for Christmas! Yeah, let's do it :)

Ok, that's one thing to take the decision but that's an other to organize it so it become real. I'm usually a 'doing at the last time possible' person. But here how it worked for me. 

First I've started to think about my bag and my last travel back from New-Zealand, 2 suitcases, one backpack, 1 ukulele (you think you'll play some every night, well you won't haha !) and that was a pain to check-in/check-out, find a place to store it. One suitcase was full of my T-shit collection which I never wear since year... but you know : just in case ;)

Never Again! That's when I was thinking about it that I had a look on the internet, thanks to google : 'travel light' ... And I met minimalism .... I had no idea that some peoples could live with that small amount of objects, that sounded crazy to me, who don't need 100 books on his shelves and A collection of 50 T-shirts you never wear. OK, ok ... digging more into google, here I am, some guys are packing a bag with the essential ... That's what I need yeah ! OMG, 4 T-shirts (yes I know that's crazy) / 4 underwear /  1 pair of shoes / 1 Shirt /  4 pair of socks  and so on ... 

Well... that sound not much but maybe I could try! And I will.

Over the last month, I've started to unclutter my flat, my objective was to live my flat with my 38L backpack,my Scubadiving Gear and avoid to store anything somewhere. Considering the amount of objects I had in the flat, that seemed to me impossible in the first place, I just bought a piano 3 months ago, how funny! 

That's started by throwing away what I'm not using and what I cannot give to a charity or sell, basically things that you put on the side because 'I can use it later', well 10 years later it's still standing in your living room! Yes you know this old fashion computer that you were planning to repair one day...or this lovely collection of coffee maker that you will use one day ...

Then I put on the side what I wanted to give to a charity, starting by emptying my wardrobe and put all my cloths on my bed. HA my lovely collection of T-shirt. Ok lets do it! the one I give on this side (the ones I never wear or will wear) and the one I keep on the other one. that's was hard, and I have to do it few time to make my mind, but finally I've ended up with a fair amount of clothes to donate. Putted all in a bag... and boom... go to charity shop, clothes / books / DVDs ... I think that's the first time I entered a charity shop in London and in a way even if what you give is nothing, well it's something, and that gave me a nice feeling. 

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About the 4 Tshirts / 1 Shirt / 1 Pair of shoes etc.. i have to admit that I'm still not there haha ... but I'm getting there :)  I've sold most of what I had, using this money to buy flight and trains tickets. 

As my flat became less clutter, I've started to enjoy more and more the empty space. As I was having less and less objects, I felt more and more happy and had a kind of a freedom feeling, hard to describe, but yes.

So here I am, writing this first article for my blog in a beautiful cafe-library in Hampstead, heading to Okinawa in 2 weeks. I'm planning to write few articles along my trip to share my Minimalist experience, my photos and videos. 

Apologize for my English and pardon my french ;) But if you made it until the end of this article without burning your eyes ! All good!

Take care ...