Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

2015, the year of the sheep.

A happy new year from Janne and Ritsuko.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Netherlands

We went to the Netherlands this August(1). I went for work — the Neuroinformatics 2014 conference was held in Leiden — and Ritsuko came along to see the sights. No time for a real vacation this year so I took a weekend off at the end of the conference, and we spent that together in Amsterdam(2). Since we're leaving for our New Years trip tomorrow morning, it's well past time to post about this.

Japan is hot in summer. Europe, by and large, is not. I did vaguely remember this as we were packing, but we grossly underestimated just how miserable the weather can be. The moment we stepped off the plane to Schiphol, we realized we should have left t-shirts and sandals at home in favour of padded coats, scarves and umbrellas.

Leiden. Wet and cold when we arrived, but quite beautiful.

Leiden is a picturesque university town. It reminds me a lot of Lund and Uppsala in Sweden, with a lot more waterways. And frankly, like Lund, Leiden also seems to be the kind of place you love living in as a student for a few years but eventually outgrow.

Bicycles everywhere.

Boat Life
Apparently you can't live here and not have a boat. Puttering around on the canals certainly looks relaxing.

A few larger boats parked along one of the canals early in the morning as I was going to the conference site.

The conference was held at the faculty of law. As the name "neuroinformatics" can tell you, it dealt less with pure neuroscience and more with modelling, data analysis and management and things like that. The talks and posters tended toward the concrete and practical. As many of us come from the informatics side, there was also a refreshingly positive attitude towards Open Source and data sharing, something that's unfortunately largely missing within much of the neuroscience field.

INCF 2014 Poster session
The INCF poster session. The long, narrow hall worked better than I thought it would; people would drift up on one side, then down the other, without causing any jams.

Einstein Lectured Here
Apparently Einstein lectured in this room when he worked here. I know this because the organizers reminded us of that fact about twice a day for the entire conference. ^_^

Antoinette Christina
Antoinette Christina. Did I mention the boats? Lots of boats.


There are many places I like to visit. But there are only a few places I could imagine living permanently. Amsterdam may have become one of them. The city is a beautiful mix of old quarters and newer, and criss-crossed with canals. And the relaxed attitude among its inhabitants really grabs me. This is a place where "work-life balance" doesn't mean "the only balance is all work, no life".

There Are Canals
There are canals. Oh but are there canals. Very picturesque, very soothing. But I can't but wonder just how often the canal-side buildings get water damaged.

A creative door design at a row of townhouses. The buildings on either side had the same doors but with the numbers shifted.

We stayed at Bed and Breakfast Margot. It was the first time at a B&B for us, but we had nothing to worry about. A beautiful room with a view of the canal, and our host Margot served up a wonderful breakfast that could have kept us going all day had we only been able to eat it all. Highly recommended.

Bed and Breakfast Margot
Our room, facing the canal. Beautiful and relaxing, and the view is great.

The downstairs entry hall and kitchen. Beware those stairs; navigating them with a heavy suitcase is painful.

The Dutch language is sort-of, kind-of like Swedish. I feel I can almost understand it, and I probably could with just a few months practice. It was sometimes almost unnerving; I'd hear bits of a conversation, and without focusing on it I could pick out the overall meaning. But once I realized that and tried to listen in, I no longer understood. Margot, the bed and breakfast owner, said she sometimes watched Swedish television dramas, and had no problem following the story.

Amsterdam is famous for legal marijuana and legal prostitution — no, we didn't try either. I'm vaguely in favour of having it legal and controlled; it seems better than the alternative. The prostitution business seems to be fairly well controlled and run, and it's clearly a tourist draw not just for sad single guys. You can see entire families walking through the red light district, and couples shopping for toys and visiting the museums and exhibitions. No pictures, as that raises too many privacy issues.

The drug business, however, seems to be its own worst enemy. The shops look seedy, run-down and dirty. They're not charmingly disordered and hippie-like, just sad and depressing. The kind of places where you expect wet stains on the seat and cigarette butts in your coffee. Whatever the product, it would never cross my mind to enter a shop. When their legal status is already under attack, fulfilling every prejudice of catering only to the desperate and the addicted does not strike me as the wisest business approach.

Holland is not well known for its food. That's not because the food is bad - far from it - but simply because the traditional cuisine, like Swedish food, doesn't stand out as uniquely different from its neighbours. If you know German food you are not going to encounter any big surprises in Amsterdam. But the food we had was all good.

It's not just a kebab. It's a symbol of Europe. Seriously. This one in Leiden, Netherlands, was cheap, filling and delicious - and all but identical (right down to the selection of sauces) to one I would have received in a good kebab place in Stockholm, Madrid, Prague or in any small town across the continent.

I love Japanese food. But one thing I do miss in Japan is the European pita kebab. I take every chance to eat this whenever I return to Europe. It's origins is vaguely middle-Eastern-Turkish-Greek, but it has spread across the continent, soaking up influences along the way, and now it has a strong claim to be one of the few true pan-European foods.

If you're looking for the germs of a new pan-European identity then forget old paintings or dusty culture. Look at the new cheap, popular foods - the bastard children of a dozen culture clashes - that we create and enjoy.

When foodies, cultural gatekeepers and the far right all hate and fear it — when everyone with a stake in national rather than European identity feel deathly threatened — then you know you're looking at the future of European identity. And it looks bright. Also delicious and covered in garlic sauce.

Dutch herring. Similar flavour (and surely a shared origin) to Swedish pickled herring. We don't eat it on bread like this — at least I've never done it — but it's a quick, tasty meal. I actually had this for lunch twice, it's so good.

Sari Citra
A friend recommended Sari Citra toward the southern end of the city center. It's an Indonesian restaurant; as it was a Dutch colony, there is a lot of food influences from there. This is a café-style place where you can eat in or take-out. Everything is fresh and very good, and it is well worth the trip. There's an outdoor market just around the corner worth a visit as well.

Sari Citra
Set meal at Sari Citra.

Pub Arendsnest is another recommendation, and just a couple of blocks from the place we stayed. If I had no other reason to move here, this would almost be enough by itself. Good, relaxed atmosphere, and an amazing range of ales and stouts on tap. It would probably take months of occasional visits to really sample all the things on offer. If you like beer, this is the place to go.

Pub Arendsnest, along one of the many canals.

FEBO. I guess tosome this is scraping the bottom of the culinary barrel. Not just a hamburger joint, but a vending-machine style hamburger joint. But it is also fun, and it's also quick, and the food is more varied and tastes better than the usual big burger chains.

Mint tea
Everybody and I mean everybody was drinking mint tea. Pour hot water over a fistful of mint leaves, then add honey to taste. Simple but very warming on chilly days.

You can't throw a bottle of genever in this town without hitting an outdoor market. The narrow streets with small squares and open areas seem well-suited to stalls and carts, and they seem to happen everywhere. There's plenty of markets selling used goods, off-brand items, and cheap knockoffs. But there's also markets full of cheese-mongers, fruit and vegetable sellers, fish and meat.

Did we buy cheese? Yes, we bought cheese. Did we buy a lot of cheese? Why yes, we did buy lots of cheese. We still have some left now, four months after the trip. Good cheese.

We got corn! Yay!!
We got corn! A happy couple grocery shopping at an outdoor market.

Hats? Hats.
A hatmaker at one of the markets. I got one for myself; it's a good hat.

The Snake
Amsterdams local anarkists sport the usual creatively decorated building.

Schiphol Pod
Schipol has a completely automated luggage check-in system. When you shove your ticket into a slot it opens the pod bay doors a hatch where you put your bag for weighing, then attach the printed luggage tag before the close button sends the bag on its way. Pretty cool; I wish I could check in myself into my own pod in the same way.

I've flown into Kansai airport many times by now, and I've never seen a dog patrol of any kind. Except this time, flying in from Amsterdam, we had not one but two drug-sniffing dog patrols walking around in the baggage reclamation area. I couldn't imagine why.

Morning View
Amsterdam in the morning.

#1 Is this post late? Why yes, it is late. Deadlines is the hobgoblin of little minds(1.5).

#1.5 As are accurate quotations.

#2 Before anybody thinks we're living the high-life: My job pays for my coach ticket and my hotel room during the conference. All other costs, including any fare increase from not returning directly after the conference, is paid by ourselves. And no, I don't get any money back if the ticket ends up cheaper.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Osaka Festival of Lights

I've been a little too stressed for my own good lately. So I took the Sunday off this weekend, and didn't even log in at work all day. Instead we went to see Osaka Festival of Lights (大阪光の饗宴). Every winter, Midosuji avenue is decorated with lights all the way from Shinsaibashi up to Nakanoshima island. And around Christmas, there's a lighting festival in the park on the island itself. Lots of people, lighting displays and stalls selling food and drink.

The weather had finally turned after a week of miserable rain and dampness. We left home early and walked up Midosuji to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch. There were a lot of people around; some were waiting for the illumination, while others were just enjoying the break in the weather. After lunch we spent a couple of hours at a café studying Swedish and Japanese (no points for guessing who studied what).

Right-wing speaker vans were out in force, probably because of the recent election. A single van parked near Yodoyabashi was criticizing Christmas. In a desperate tone the speaker urged people to "remember that New Year is a Shinto holiday! Don't you even care Tuesday is the Emperors birthday!?"

Of course, Christmas isn't much of a holiday here. You don't get time off work, and it has no religious or cultural meaning; it's a dating day for young people and another excuse to add festive decorations and sell stuff to people. I can't imagine how oversensitive that right-winger must have been to burst a vein over this.

Hot wine is really popular right now, and most food stalls sell it. This stall also sold hot sake, and frankly I like it even better than hot wine when it's cold outside. It's less sweet and sticky, but just as warming.

As dusk approached we arrived at Nakanoshima. The crowd was large already, and the food stalls were doing a brisk trade. At many festivals you'd mostly have snacks and junk food — hot dogs, taiyaki, yakisoba and so on. Here, though, one of the two food areas is dedicated to Western-style foods, mostly catered by restaurants. We had borstj, pirog, and clam chowder in a hollowed-out bread. Later on we also had okomiyaki and beef kushiyaki. Healthy living.

The highlight of the festival was a projection event on the Osaka Public Hall. It was a fun little animation featuring Anooki, French animation characters. Here's a YouTube video of the animation: Anooki á Osaka.

You are feeling sleepy... Very, very sleepy...
You are feeling sleepy... Very, veeryyy sleeepyyy... This one was fun; the display is actually animated and set to music, so the picture doesn't really convey the full experience.

I haven't felt this refreshed in months. For the first time in a long while I managed to forget about work for a while and just enjoy taking pictures and watching people. I wish I could do this more often.

All the bridges around Yodogawa are illuminated as well (though I vaguely think they are all year round). This is Tenjinbashi bridge as we were leaving for home.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kobe Port

Part of the fun of using film is trying different film and developer combinations. Rodinal is the the oldest film developers still made, and one of the most popular. It's very cheap and easy to use — you dilute the inexpensive syrup 1:25 or more right before you use it, and it practically has no best-before date.

It does tend to increase the visible grain, so until now I've used it only with low-speed film. On 35mm you'd use it with fast film only if you're looking for a gritty, high-contrast look. But with larger negatives the grain becomes correspondingly smaller. So I recently tried using medium format Delta 400 with Rodinal. The results are really quite good:

Kobe Port Tower
Kobe Port Tower. Ilford Delta 400, Rodinal 1:50.

This looks great to me. Both the highlights and shadows retain detail even in a high-contrast scene like this. And at full resolution (about 25Mp in this case), where the scanner is already losing image detail, the grain is noticeable, but not at all intrusive:

Crop of Port Tower image
100% crop of the above image; the full image is about 25 megapixels. This is the limit of my scanner resolution, and the grain is no problem at all.

Here's another image from the same roll:

Meditating. Ilford Delta 400 in Rodinal 1:50.

I like this look a lot. Sharp and clear, without excessive contrast. I'm certainly going to use this combination more in the future. Might even try it in 35mm, just to see what it's like, though I suspect it gets a little grainy for my taste.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


It was time for my yearly attempt at the Japanese Language Proficiency Test this weekend. It's usually a nice autumn day off for me; take a walk with the camera; mill with other students at a university campus; breathe the crisp autumn evening air on the way home.

Many students are doing last-minute cramming right up until the doors openand the test starts. I'm not sure that really makes much sense for level 1. There's just too much material to cover.

But the past few months have been more than a little stressful at work. I've got too many things left unfinished, and not nearly enough time to finish them. When I left for the test Sunday morning I was unable to leave my work behind. Taking a day off didn't feel relaxing; it just felt annoying and wasteful.

At least the weather was good.

In the end, my heart just wasn't in it. I kept worrying about the issues at work and couldn't focus properly on the test. I probably did quite badly, and now I wish I had simply gone to the office or spent the day working from home instead.

Early December isn't the best time of year for this sort of thing, with all the deadlines piling up before the New Year. Next time I should probably take the test in summer instead.

Osaka Castle
Osaka castle on my way home from the test.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Colonscopy for Fun and Profit
    — or —
A Show Of Intestinal Fortitude
    — or —
Put it Where the Sun Don't Shine

Colonoscopy. A scary word for some, and embarrassing for most of us. "Yep, I'm going to go have a stranger poke me in the butt. Young women will stand around and watch. And I'll pay for the experience." doesn't quite evoke an image of wholesome family activity. It's not part of polite conversation. Not something to bring up over dinner.

I had mine at Sugiyasu Clinic in Amagasaki. They do colonoscopies and gastroscopies - and only colonoscopies and gastroscopies. That means the clinic owner and his staff is very, very experienced. They've seen it all and they're really good at what they do.

* * *

I'm 45 now, and it's time to worry about serious diseases. As someone once said: "Most of us live through our first fifty years. Very few live through our second fifty." The past ten years we've had several scares and a few losses among friends and family from heart disease, cancers, and infections so I don't take this lightly.

Here's a quick graph of mortality by age group for Japan and Sweden (courtesy of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and Statistics Sweden):

Mortality rate in Japan (blue) and Sweden (orange). it tells you the average risk to die during the year for any year of age. The increase is exponential, which means the risk increases by a constant proportion each year. Note that since definitions and methods may differ between the countries the numbers themselves might not be directly comparable. The trend is the same, though.

Notice what happens around age 45-50 or so? Mortality is exponential (think compound interest for disease risk) and really starts to take off in middle age. When you reach the 40's you need to start taking care of yourself in a way you never realized when you were younger.

Here's the same data on a logarithmic scale:

The same data as above, but on a logarithmic scale. The increase is pretty steady, except for people between 15 and 30. Had I plotted the data for 90-95 and 100+ years old as well you would have seen an extra increase there too. 
Overall, the rate of increase is mostly constant through much of our lives. But look at what happens between ages 15-30, for both Japan and Sweden? It's like a hump of recklessness, when we're old enough to strike out into the world on our own, but still not responsible and experienced enough to avoid some very big mistakes.

* * *

A colonoscopy is really very simple. You poke a flexible tube with a fiber-optic camera into the large intestine and look for signs of trouble. If you need to, you can stick in tools through the tube to remove polyps or take samples. A gastroscopy (which I've also had) where you look into the stomach, is much the same but through a different opening as it were.

The problem is that your intestines aren't empty. To actually see anything you need to empty out the bowels, and there's really no comfortable — no delicate — way to do that. That means laxatives and some quality one-on-one time with a toilet.

The preferred way to prepare is apparently different in western countries such as Sweden and the US on one hand, and in Japan on the other. In the west you apparently avoid seeds, tomatoes, fruits, berries and other foods that are colourful or hard to digest for up to a week beforehand. You fast and drink laxatives the entire day before. When you come to the clinic you're already empty (and probably quite hungry) and can go directly on to the examination.

Here in Japan you eat and drink normally until the day before, when you have to avoid fruit, vegetables, milk products or anything with red or purple colouring. I had toast with ham and coffee for breakfast; instant ramen with an egg for lunch; and rice with a fresh egg ("卵かけご飯") for dinner. A chaser of laxative sent me to the bathroom once around bedtime and again the next morning.

When you get to the clinic you sit in a waiting room with half a dozen other patients and drink a bottle-full of laxative over the course of an hour, until the only thing coming through you is water. You dress in a hospital gown, get an enema for that extra-fresh squeaky-clean feeling and are led into the examination room. You're finally ready for your closeup.

* * *

Screening groups of people without symptoms for diseases often only make sense if you're in a high risk group, only once tyou reach a certain age, or (as for prostate cancer) sometimes not at all. Overall, we are probably erring on the side of too much testing, not too little. It's a big issue, and needs a post of its own.

Screening for colorectal cancer starts to make sense once you reach 45-50 years or so. This is one of our most common cancers, and also one of the most treatable. If you find it early the cure rate is nearly 100%. But if you find it late it can often be lethal. And as it often gives you no early symptoms, it's a common cause of death for people in middle age.

The cancer usually appears on polyps that sometimes form in the large intestine. Polyps are quite common, and some people are more likely to get them than others. The best way to prevent cancer is to find and remove the polyps before they cause any trouble. And if one is already turning cancerous you want to find out early, before it spreads outside the polyp itself. In such cases simply removing the polyp during the exam is often all you need; no drugs or hospitalization is necessary.

The easiest test is a stool sample that looks for small traces of blood. You poke a sampling stick into your poo right at home, bring it to the clinic and get the results in a few days. It's not hugely accurate but it's quick, cheap and easy so you can repeat it every year. I've done that for a few years already.

A colonoscopy is much more accurate and will find other things as well, not just polyps, but it's also a lot more invasive. People that tend to get polyps may do it every year, while the stool sample test is sufficient for most other people.

* * *

The examination room is dominated by a steel-frame bed surrounded by piles of hospitalish devices; things with LCD monitors and tubes, things that go beep, that sort of stuff. A couple of nurses in protective garb guide me to the bed where I lie down on my left side, bum conveniently hanging free at the long edge of the bed. I get a saline drip (we've lost a fair amount of liquid with the laxatives after all) and a mild sedative.

The doctor is affable and friendly. I can see the monitor and the sedative has only made me relaxed, not sleepy, so I ask a tentative question about what I see on the screen. Turns out he is just as talkative as I am, and only too happy discussing a job that he clearly loves.

He runs the endoscope through my large intestine up to the ileum, where the appendix and the small intestine starts, then back again, explaining all along. At one point during the return we get into a digression about the appendix, so he runs the endoscope all the way in again to show me. The whole thing was way more informative and much more entertaining than I imagined.

Part of my upper (transverse) colon, I think. Not the most exciting part of this anatomy perhaps, but I really appreciate the composition of triangular forms in this frame.
By the end the tranquilizers were really kicking in (perhaps the nurses were adding more to make us stop talking already) and I was getting quite dizzy. A nurse led me to a reclining chair in the recovery room where I collapsed and promptly fell asleep for half an hour.

Once I woke up I got dressed again, then met the doctor in his office for the results. As I already knew there was not a hint of polyps or of any other problems. My colon is apparently in rude health.

As I had no problems, my plan is to do a stool sample test every year as usual, and redo the endoscopy in five years time. That should be a good balance for me between the risk of missing something bad on one hand, and the risks (it's not completely risk free) and inconveniences of the colonoscopy on the other.

If you are approaching my age or older, and if you don't test yourself for polyps already, then this is a very good time to start. The test can save your life of course, but also be the difference between a quick ten-minute procedure or major surgery and months and years of brutal anti-cancer treatment. The stool sample test is silly easy, and there's really no excuse not to do it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More on Vim Splits

I wrote a post recently on how you can resize split Vim windows automatically as you move between them. I've been playing around with it for a while and have found a better solution.

The small script I presented in that post works OK. But when you have more then 4-5 windows, you'll notice that the non-focused windows get resized very unevenly. Some will hardly change, others might shrink to a single horizontal or vertical line.

Vim already has a function that can almost do what we want: ctrl-w = makes all windows equal size. But, if you read the manual(1) you'll find that it will also try to make the size of the current window to winheight and winwidth if you set those variables. it will still try to set the other windows to be about equal size.

That means that instead of resizing our window explicitly, like the old script did, we can simply set winheight and winwidth to the size we want, call ctrl-w = and we're done.

One more tweak: With large screens and the old script, the vertical resize would sometimes actually resize the command line as well. A bit annoying. I've removed the maximum vertical size restriction below.

" Resize the current split to at least (90,25) but no more than 140
" characters wide, or 2/3 of the available space otherwise.

function Splitresize()
    let &winwidth = min([max([float2nr(&columns*0.66), 90]), 140])
    let &winheight = max([float2nr(&lines*0.66), 25])
    exe "normal! \<C-w>="

As in the previous post, you can remap ctrl-h, ctrl-j, ctrl-k, ctrl-l to quickly move between splits and trigger the resize each time:

" move between splits using ctrl-h, j, k and l

nnoremap <silent><C-J> <C-W><C-J>:call Splitresize()<CR>
nnoremap <silent><C-K> <C-W><C-K>:call Splitresize()<CR>
nnoremap <silent><C-L> <C-W><C-L>:call Splitresize()<CR>
nnoremap <silent><C-H> <C-W><C-H>:call Splitresize()<CR>

Try this, and let me know what you think.

#1 Yes, I know. I don't read manuals either. Nobody reads manuals. And yet, we spend huge amounts each year on books that describe exactly the same thing as the manuals we never read.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Summer Festival

Summer is winding down here in Osaka. The morning air is crisp and cool, and some trees are already turning yellow and red. A good time to recall the summer. That, and I'm way behind on posting pictures. ^_^

Every summer Kouzu Jinja, "our" neighbourhood shrine, holds a festival. It's fun, so we try to go when we can. I've been there five or six times now, and Ritsuko has of course come here since she was a child. You can go there during the day, but the place really gets going after dark, when people join the festival after work together with their families.


When you enter the shrine area you're supposed to purify yourself by washing your hands in a fount outside. Frankly, most people don't bother during the festival. This boy seemed to find it endlessly amusing, though.


Many young girls dress in summer yukata during festival, which adds to the festival atmosphere. Some men dress in yukata or samue, although it's much less common. I wore a samue this year, and it's really perfect in this climate. The loose, rough-woven cloth is cool and airy in the summer heat. More people should try it.


Summer festivals are for the children as much as for the adults. Kids run around in the shrine area, and the street outside is lined with carnival games, candy, drinks and snack food.

Crushed Ice

A summer festival is not complete without food and drink. Shaved ice with syrup is a favourite.

Candied Strawberries

Candied fruit is another great reason to come. Crunchy on the outside, sweet and juicy inside. Just be careful; the hard, sticky candy can easily ruin your teeth.


Festivals are usually sponsored by local companies. And those that become sponsors get a lantern with their name on it hanging along the walkways and stairs. Advertise in style.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Homemade Olives

Did you know there's olive groves in Osaka? Neither did I. A few weeks ago, Ritsuko found fresh olives at a local farmers market and bought a small bag on a whim.

Olives are pretty much inedible when fresh, so you have to pickle them in brine. There's lots of recipes on the net, and they all vary quite a lot. That's a good thing; it usually means that the details don't really matter too much.

Fresh olives are very bitter, so first you need to soak them to remove that flavour. We cut the olives in top and bottom and put them in a jar. We poured a brine of 1 part salt to 8 parts water (by weight) in the jar, then used a small glass lid as a weight to  keep the olives below the surface.

Our olives just after the second pickling.

It's been two weeks now, and the olives have turned a muted olive green and the brine has turned brown. We strained the olives and washed them in fresh water. The bitterness is gone and there's a faint but definite olive flavour. But they're still kind of raw and crunchy, so we put them back in a clean jar, mixed another batch of brine and added two halved cloves of garlic and one sliced dried chili. Top up with olive oil as a "lid" to avoid contact with air, then put the jar back in the closet again.

The major worry is that they will spoil. If they don't, they should be edible in about two months or so, just in time for the year-end holidays. I'm looking forward to trying them.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Okinawa II

I've finished the film pictures we took in Okinawa earlier this year. The black and white pictures are from my Fuji GF670, a fully modern medium-format rangefinder camera.

The Storm
A storm is approaching. Tancha, Okinawa.

The colour shots are with Ritsuko's Canon Demi. It's a half-frame 35mm camera — it takes two vertical pictures in the space of one horizontal 35mm shot — from the late 1960's. Yes, it's older than me, and I'm not exactly fresh out of the box any more. The half-frame format was popular when colour film was new and still very expensive, as you can get 72 pictures on a single roll.

The Demi has a light meter but no range finder. You simply dial in the lens to the distance you want, guided by small symbols ranging from a head (for close-ups), to a person, to a group of people, to a mountain. It's not very exact, but more than good enough for a semi-wide lens like this one. The high-end Rollei 35S works the same and manages to take excellent pictures. The Demi lens has plenty of distortion and is prone to glare, and the small-size images lack fine detail, but all that just adds to the retro appeal of the finished images. And with 72 shots to a roll you can shoot on a whim and not worry about wasting film.

There's two quirks to be aware of with this camera: First, the camera shoots in portrait orientation, so you'll end up holding the camera vertically a lot. Also, the light meter cells degrade over time. You really need some sort of cover or lid for the meter around the lens when you're not using it. There is no manual mode at all; if the meter stops working, then so does the camera.

As I wrote in an earlier post, we spent a couple of days at Rizzan, a nearby family resort hotel. We felt very touristy and relaxed, exactly what I needed after an intensive month of work.

Poolside at the Rizzan hotel. It's all very family-friendly, and that makes for a lively atmosphere without party crowds. As you can see if you check the larger size, there isn't all that much detail in this picture. But it's plenty enough for a blog post like this, and it looks really good in a small-sized print.

Beach Life
Beach Life. This is what happens if you set the wrong film speed and have to correct the image afterwards. I deliberately left the frame edges; it adds to the old-timey feel, I think.

We spent our last day in Naha. Our flight home did not leave until evening, so we deliberately left in early morning in order to get a full day walking around town. Naha is a pleasant, somewhat sleepy town with more than a little south-Asian vibe to it.

Back streets
A lot of Naha is like this, with quiet streets bathed in sunlight. It's probably a pretty good place to live in many ways. I wouldn't mind trying it for a few years.

Kokusai street is a popular area for sightseers, but it's honestly a pure tourist trap now; rows of near-identical souvenir shops and little else. Stay away from that street and try the side streets, the market or other nearby areas instead. It's much more fun.

Some people hang out in the shade of a local park just off the end of Kokusai street. It seems pleasant enough, although I'm happy I'm old enough not to have to do this any longer.

Wall Art
Many buildings are brightly painted or decorated. It fits the warm, sunny climate, and adds to the distinct Asian atmosphere.

Makishi market is right next to Kokusai street, an area of small covered alleyways centered around a fish market. Again, the atmosphere feels southeast Asian as much as Japanese. The rear side is not very crowded; it's a pleasant place to walk around in especially around midday when the heat and the sun is strongest.

Makishi Market
A fruit stall at Makishi market.

Umbrellas are used for protection against the sun as much as rain. Makishi market.

Coffee Break
We're having a coffee at "The Coffee Stand", a tiny, tiny coffee place at the rear of the market. This has to be the best coffee place I've found in Okinawa so far. The owner is a true enthusiast - you can select from any number of single-source beans from around the world, then pick the way you want it made, including drip, french press, aeropress and espresso. The magazine rack is full of coffee speciality magazines. It's a great place to enjoy a seriously good cup of coffee.

Todays Catch
Fish at the market. Tropical seas may not always give you the best-tasting seafood, but it does give you the most colourful.

Mysterious structure behind a school in Naha. A little Hayao Miyazaki-like. Or perhaps it's just the angle.

Up, up into the light
Balconies. Naha, Okinawa.