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...but something's lost and something's gained in living every day.
"Both Sides, Now" by Joni Mitchell

Memory: As I write this, it has been nearly 20 years since I set out on the pilgrim's path in Japan. Though I had visited a number of temples before formalizing my efforts, May of 1999--during the Golden Week holiday--started a mad dash which, in just two years' time, took me all over Japan: around Kanto (the region centered on Tokyo) and Kansai (around Kyoto), traveling 60 kilometers on foot in a mountainous area outside of Tokyo, walking over 300 miles down the 400-year-old Tokaido highway from Tokyo to Kyoto, and then walking a considerable portion (and taking public transportation for the rest) of the Shikoku 88-Temple Pilgrimage, which clocks out in all at over 700 miles.

These last two endeavors--the Tokaido and the Shikoku Route--were "blogged" (for lack of a better word; I actually made near-daily postings on an html-generated page). So there are at least some "notes" to help me remember what I did, and where, and when. But the earlier journeys and, alas, the short pilgrimages I did in August of 2004, were recorded only in photos--and for the ones I did from 1999 to 2001, relatively few photos, since I was still shooting film (digital has made us prodigal).

So, as Joni says, something--in fact a LOT--has been lost. (By the way, less has been lost of my China journeys, because [a] they're more recent; [b] I did some note-taking; and [c] since I was shooting digital, I have more shots of bus signs, roadside maps, etc.)

But something has also been gained. The internet has far more information on most of these sites than it used to. More temple geeks have produced more useful information, and frankly, there essentially was no Google or Wikipedia when I first set out. (Google had eleven employees in 1999; Wikipedia was founded in 2001.)

So what you will see in the earlier pages of the site is more background (via the internet) and less personal experience (via my mind). The proportion will shift as time goes by.

BUT--and this is a big caveat--I hope you will remember that everything here is as I understand it. Yes, there are plenty of boxes ticked on my resume; but in the end, without the ability to read or carry on a fluent conversation in either Japanese or Chinese, I am largely at the mercy of what has been translated, and what my sometimes-faulty perceptions may have acquired onsite.

For this I am truly sorry.

But let's consider these "notes" toward a more complete understanding to achieved by others who wish to stand on my shoulders and see farther.

Photos: You may notice that the photos taken in China (since 2004) are generally of higher quality than those taken in Japan and before. The reason is simple enough: the last things I did in Japan (the Tokaido and Shikoku) were shot with early digital technology. File sizes are well under 200KB (and many below 100!), and dimensions are generally 640 x 480 pixels. By contrast, files in China (starting in 2006) are closer to 500KB and 1600 x 1200. By 2015, they were around 3000KB and 2592 x 1944. (These increases reflect purchases of better and better cameras.)

But what about my pre-digital days, stretching back into the 1980s? Most of the pictures you'll see from those years were scanned from transparency film--"slides"--and the quality of the image depends on the quality of the scan. In a few cases I'm reshooting them with my most recent digital camera (a Canon EOS 600D), but for the most part--as these are meant for documentary purposes and not as "fine art"--I'm sticking with my old scans. (Items to be offered for sale in the future will definitely be upgraded!) So, I apologize for any dust, focus problems, pixelation, etc.; in most cases these reflect the quality of the scan, not the original shot.


Last updated Mar. 2, 2019

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