My photo essay on Kyoto's Old Gion, home to Geisha《古香古韵的京都街头寻找艺伎身影》is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 17 June 2017! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
(A dying art) Chinese Street Opera In Singapore, Lao Sai Tao Yuan Teochew Opera Troupe 新加坡有上百年历史的老赛桃源潮剧团
Ever since embarked on the photojournalism path, I have developed a deep interest in documenting changes in Singapore and other countries. I devote much effort in capturing other striking images of Singapore society, much of which has since vanished, like, from changing street scenes, vanishing trades, to traditional Chinese Opera and other cultural practices.
When it comes to evoking the mystery and charm of ancient China, few art forms can compare to Chinese opera, with its kaleidoscopic costumes, distinctive falsetto singing punctuated by gongs, and intricate gestures rich with symbolism. Despite serious competition from more modern forms of entertainment, traditional Chinese performance art in the form of Teochew opera continues to persevere in Singapore as a beautiful and timeless craft. One of the few remaining troupes in Singapore, the Lao Sai Tao Yuan (老赛桃源) Teochew Opera Troupe has been performing for more than 150 years, and continues to sustain the art form. Special thanks to Lao Sai Tao Yuan Teochew Opera Troupe, on this occasion — a god’s birthday, celebrated at Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery in Toa Payoh — I am backstage with their crew of opera actors and musicians.
Being a female, I don't have any personal experience with barbershops, however, I wonder how many modern men today visit one. Yes, I know that some shops cater to women, but for the purpose of this photo blog post I'm talking about the barbershop as a male-centric business. A barbershop, by contrast, is a testosterone filled establishment. Barbers are professionals who have accepted the responsibility of the caring for men’s hair and grooming.
In the past, the local neighborhood barber shop used to be the place where men went to discuss news, politics, sports, women and anything else on their minds. Secondly, barbers know men's hair and how to cut it properly and into any style. Thirdly, they can get a shave while they're at it, a close, comfortable shave. Getting a shave at a barber shop is an indulgent experience for any guy, because they know what they're doing. They have the right equipment (you won't find a single disposable plastic razors in sight), know how to moisten the face with a damp, hot towel first and use special moisturizers and lotions that prevent razor burn. After a barber shop shave, a man will somehow feel ready to take on the world.
If you think local barbers = your neighbourhood pakcik who gives you a buzz complete with a smattering of talcum powder, then you are in for an education. It's time to think of barbers as grooming traditionalists and that's what you'll get the moment you step into the Hounds of the Baskervilles (yes, it's actually the title of a crime book novel series authored by Sir Arthur Conan Dooyle, featuring the famous detective Sherlock Homes).
With a polished Victorian gentlemen’s aesthetic straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel, the aptly-named Hounds of the Baskervilles is Singapore’s first traditional Western barbershop. The decor and service immerses guys in a traditional barbershop experience with a measured attention to detail, from the immaculately coiffed barbers to the handsome vintage furniture the shop is kitted out in.
Tokyo teems with dozens of markets and shopping areas, and sometimes it actually feels like the entire city is a single mega shopping district. When I was in Tokyo, I spent quite a lot of time at Ameyayokocho market, a series of walking shopping streets. The name of the market actually translates to “candy shop alley,” and while you will find some sweets vendors, it’s now turned into an everything alley.
The market is more of an afternoon and night market, so if you go in the morning, most things will be closed and the streets empty. Go in the afternoon or evening, and it’s a completely different story.
The history of Ameyoko is equally fascinating. There used to be a lot of candy stores in the street all perfectly lined up in the early post-war era, thus the name “Ameya-Yokocho”, which literally means ‘candy store alley’. Alternatively, there’s another theory that “Ame” refers to America, thanks to the American army goods that used to be sold here post-World War II.
张园: 典型的老上海里弄风情 Old Shanghai, China: Historical Zhang Yuan (a.k.a Zhang's Garden) with vanishing architecture
你可以没有听说过 “张园”，但也无法改变这是个有历史，有故事的地方。张园虽然就位在上海最热闹的南京西路站旁，但却很少有人关注，相当可惜。这里浓缩了百余年的兴衰变迁。如今的张园，有 108 幢房屋，是上海种类最丰富、保存最完整的石库门建筑群。由于至今还有大量居民居住，充分的 “人气” 也让它的生命力至今流传。
Shikumen (which refers to an endangered form of architecture and city planning. Brick buildings within alley complexes fronted by a stone-framed kumen or gateway), is a style of housing unique to Shanghai, as it blends the Chinese and Western architectural styles. Shikumen, which are two or three-storey townhouses, have a front yard that is enclosed by a high brick wall. At one time, Shikumen-style neighborhoods accounted for more than 60 percent of the housing in the city.
Since the 1990s, many shikumen-style neighborhoods have been demolished to build new residential or commercial buildings. It wasn't until many of the houses were replaced by skyscrapers that residents began to realize such monuments of Shanghai's past deserved to be preserved. If you want to see what a typical shikumen is like, you'd better hurry.
Lets us now step inside a traditional shikumen-style house to discover the authentic Shanghainese way of life. I had the rare opportunity to actually walk through one of these Shikumen houses - Zhang Yuan (also known as Zhang's Garden), which was quite an interesting experience. This is an iconic place in Shanghai.
Tokyo is Japan's biggest and most modern city, but even here remain buildings where you can feel history. As Japanese architecture has traditionally envisioned buildings as temporary and expendable, in part due to the constant threat of fires and earthquakes, Tokyo has been left with fewer examples of historic architecture than places like Europe and the UK. Nevertheless, the neighbouring districts of Marunouchi and Ginza still contain a number of buildings that have, through a combination of luck and love, managed to stay standing, providing an ideal opportunity to enjoy a walk around town and see a blend of old and new architecture.
JR Tokyo Station's Marunouchi Station Building is a historical building that was constructed in 1910s. The distinct style of using red brick and white marble became an architectural style that combined British architecture will still reflecting the atmosphere of Japan in that era. The 3rd floor's domed roof was crushed during the fire bombings in World War II, but it has been reconstructed to look exactly as it did in 1914. This should definitely be a stop on your trip so you can experience the retro atmosphere of this beautiful building.
My photo essay on《香港大坑炳记茶档生活文化鲜活见证》 is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 29 April 2017! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
Few places in the world have such a wealth of cutting-edge architecture as Tokyo. Tokyo is doubtless one of the most incredible architecture cities on earth.
De Beers Ginza Building located along Marronnier Street in Ginza, the flagship store of the diamonds company, is one of the most interesting constructions from Tokyo. Ginza is one of the most famous commercial districts in Tokyo. With a cutting-edge architectural design, the sleek tower made of stainless steel cannot pass unnoticed. Its twisted frame gives it an almost Seussian appearance. The building was designed by the well-known Japanese architect Jun Mitsui.
In an area filled with remarkable architecture, the De Beers building manages to stop people in the street with its unreal design. The space between the tower and the surrounding buildings is quite small and the building can be admired only from close distance.
Welcome to Sapporo – a city home to picturesque summer days, Siberian-style winters and a treasure trove of hidden gems. There is arguably no better place to get a complete 360-degree view over this wonderful city than from the top of the Sapporo TV Tower.
It's not a particularly tall tower by any means, especially compared to its neighbour, the Tokyo Tower. However, it does have one thing that the others don't... It's located in Sapporo.
Since 1956 Sapporo TV Tower has been the most prominent landmark of Sapporo. The tower is visible from most areas of Sapporo. The tower was designed by the same architect that design the famous Tokyo Tower, with the intention of becoming a similar landmark. This landmark is a great indicator on where you are in Sapporo. From the observation deck, you can see all of Odori Park. One of the unique features is the digital clock that is on all 4 sides. It was donated by an electronic company who thought it would draw attention to the tower.
More-Than-Century-Old Nijo Market: A Mini “Tsukiji Fish Market” In The Heart of Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan 日本北海道历史悠久的二条市场, 札幌
Go anywhere in Japan, and one thing becomes clear. The Japanese really LOVE crab. Apart from being blessed with snow, one thing that the northern island of Japan could rely on is the abundance supply of different kind of crabs namely king, queen, hairy and snow.
Japan’s love for crab is legendary, its crab consumption being one of the highest in the world. Typically eaten in the colder months, it’s the quintessential winter dish in Japan and there’s no better place to have it than here in Hokkaido. Hokkaido is like a haven for those who travel for food, seafood to be exact.
I have a penchant for fish markets because that’s where the freshest is found. No visit to Sapporo, or any other prefecture in Japan, would be complete without stopping by a fish market in the morning. The Nijo Fish Market in Sapporo is what Tsujiki Fish Market is to Tokyo. Even though it is much smaller in size, it’s still a great place to get fresh seafood and local produce right in the heart of Sapporo. With other fish markets I have been to, Nijo Market is the smallest and the cleanest. Easy access and no tuna auction to watch unlike Tsukiji Market so the expedition to Nijo Fish Market was a lot less tedious.
Who doesn't know Sapporo Beer? Along with Kirin and Asahi, Sapporo is one of the top three most popular Japanese beers. It is also one of the oldest breweries in Japan. It is obviously in the city of Sapporo that it was first brewed, in 1877. If you have the chance to visit to the northern island of Hokkaido, do not miss the Sapporo Beer Museum!
Visiting the Sapporo Beer Museum also makes for an interesting journey through time! Indeed, the museum offers a high quality tour on the history of beer in Japan. The first introduction by Europeans, the start of industrial production and more. This is also an opportunity to look back on the beginnings of the opening of Japan to the world, and its swift leap into modernity. Imagine yourself in the Meiji era.
I know what you're thinking... and yes, at the end of the tour you will have the opportunity to taste a few different varieties of beer that the company produces!
My photo essay on《香港.新加坡 无法取代的淘宝情趣》featuring 讲述香港的“猫街”摩罗上街和本地的“贼市场“结霜桥市场 is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报缤纷版 dated 16 March 2017! 感谢、感恩! Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! :)
Hokkaido is known around the world for its natural beauty, delicious food, and their four seasons. If you are perhaps planning on visiting Sapporo during winter or snowboarding in the nearby mountains of Hokkaido, there is one town you don’t want to miss during your stay: Otaru. The second thing I wanted to do while in Sapporo was visiting Otaru.
Otaru is a port-town in western Hokkaido, about 30 minutes by train from Sapporo. Interestingly, most of the city’s architecture is designed with a Western-style in mind, which is unusual compared to other architecture throughout Japan. However, while visiting Otaru, you won’t feel like you are in just another Japanese tourist town. Otaru is a city of hidden treasures that will make memories to last a lifetime. And through the centre of it all, lay the beautiful Otaru Canal a quiet, gentle body of water, mirroring the façades of the low rise buildings standing alongside it, delicately covered with snow. I could just sit by the canal on a cold stone bench for a moment of rest and think about how perfect this town seemed to be.
Hello, Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a truly wonderful start of the year with your loved ones, a bottle of red wine and a heck load of sparkles and laughter. I thought my first post of the new year ought to be a little look over the past 12 months, but I realize I have so much to catch up on my travelogues and I can't waste anymore time but to keep travel writing whenever I can. I wanted this post to be a somewhat photo heavy blogpost, a post full of snow snaps that you may not have ever seen before.
Japan is probably one of my favorite places in the world, which is kind of remarkable considering I spent the past two years exploring many areas in Japan. In fact, I only spent one week in Sapporo, but it instantly stole my heart and continues to be at the top of my list of places in the world I want to return. It is just so cool, especially during winter.
I visited last month, which was heaps of fun, and honestly I think anytime in the winter would be magical there. I loved the food, I was fascinated by how different the culture up there was from the rest of Japan, and since Japan has such a wet climate, I think Sapporo had the most snow I’ve ever seen in my life. In fact I’d say if you want to enjoy a truly beautiful winter in Japan then head to Sapporo!
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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