Happy 2018, the Year of the Dog

You might also want to check:
2013, the year of the Snake
2016, the year of the Monkey
2017, the year of the Rooster

In Japan, every year starts with a visit to the shrine, in order to get some blessings, buy some lucky charms, or ask what the future might have for you. As per my own little tradition, I headed as usual to the Hie Jinja not far from where I live and work, which hopefully will bring me good luck for the year to come.


Expect to see a lot of people queuing at the most popular shrines during the new year period.

After having prayed, write your wish for the year on a Ema (wooden tablet). As you can see on these Ema, 2018 is the year of the Dog.

Probably the part that Japanese people are looking forward the most is to get their fortune for the year to come be told by an omikuji (fortune-telling paper strip). There are various degrees of luck ranging from great blessing to great curse (although I feel like most of the time you can summarize the message by “work hard if you want to succeed”), but no panic if you had an unlucky pick: just attach it with the other bad fortunes on the shrine ground, and you will be protected from the bad omen.

You can also get a Hamaya (an arrow that will protect you from evil spirits) and get it blessed by a Miko (shrine maiden).

Before you leave, sip a cup of sake, and why not get something to eat from the various stalls around the shrine ground.

And as usual, eating some special new year’s food in the evening to finish the first day of the year:


I hope you all had a good time over the holiday period, and wish you all a happy 2018 🙂

2017, year of the rooster

A happy new year to all my readers. May 2017 bring you happiness and take you one step closer to your goals.

As per the tradition in Japan, I started the year with a visit to the shrine (Hatsumōde), in order to get blessed for the year of the rooster, and bring back my lucky charms from the year of the monkey 2016 so that they can be burnt by the shrine.

I will be in Kyoto on the 21st of January for Fujikina, with the opportunity to touch and try Fujifilm’s upcoming GFX 50s medium format mirrorless camera. But more importantly I’m just looking forward to the trip to Kyoto, even though unfortunately for me Kiyomizu Dera’s famous main hall will just have been covered for renovation works that are expected to take place until 2020.

Talk to you soon 😉

New Year in Japan

As has been the case every year since I moved to Tokyo, I started the year with the traditional visit to the shrine in my neighborhood (when in Rome, do as the Romans do…).

With so many people doing the same thing at the same time, the queue to pray can grow exponentially, so you really don’t want to arrive after 11:00AM (which does not sound so bad, but we are talking 1st of January here… 😉) or be ready to wait for hours if you chose a popular shrine.

2016 is the year of the monkey (according to the Chinese calendar), so more people than usual come the Hie jinja to pray at the monkey statues of the shrine, with some bringing bananas tob. Hopefully this is a good omen for this blog 😉

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Upcoming Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f2.8 WR

XF Lenses

According to FujiRumors, who is usually right about those things (and that I read daily religiously), Fujifilm is set to unveil their latest f2.8 constant aperture zoom, the XF 16-55mmF2.8 WR, in the next few hours.

For once, I am very curious to see if we get anything interesting from this press conference, and especially better samples than we usually get. When I say better, I am not talking about the quality of the picture (from an artistic point of view they are taken by some of the best photographers In the world, and from a technical point of view all the recent releases by any manufacturers, including third party, have shown that the quality standards are very high), what I am referring to is the variety within the samples, in order to see different interpretations of what this lens can be used for in various hands.

The reason why I am curious is not because I am interested in this lens. Actually, it is the opposite: i am not planning on buying this lens for myself. So I just want to let the door open, to see if Fujifilm can blow my mind and make me question my own judgement. It could be a matter of price point as well, but I would not expect this lens to come at a discount as it is part of the “premium” lineup.

So why am I not too excited by the imminent announcement of this lens?

One of the biggest reasons has to be the excellent XF 18-55mm f2.8-4, that I have used in many different situations and that never failed me. The f2.8 zoom will be slightly faster zoomed in at 55mm, but the “kit” zoom has OIS. But more importantly, if you are already invested in the Fuji X-System, you might have some of the fast primes on top of the “kit” lens, such as the 35mm f1.4. If in addition of this one you also have the 56mm f1.2, then the slight faster aperture at the end of the zoom range becomes less important.

The XF 16-55mmF2.8 WR is also most likely to be much bulkier and heavier than the “kit” zoom, while I tend to use this type of zoom range when I want to travel light.

I expect the XF 16-55mmF2.8 WR to be slightly sharper than the “kit” lens, but especially so where it does not matter to me (in the corners). I use my camera to create images, not to shave myself 🙂

Having said all of that, the XF 16-55mmF2.8 WR is weather-resistant, so if you need it, then there is no question about how important to you this lens will be.

Well, as I said, I don’t think this lens is for me, but I am open-minded… Let’s see 🙂

PS: while I am not planning to buy this lens, I will probably rent it when it becomes possible, in order to forge my own opinion on it, just like I did with the XF 18-135 f3.5-5.6