Monday, February 28, 2011

some vintage cars at Missions Fest

 A 1930s(?) automobile and a 1940s Hudson shown at the exhibit hall at Missions Fest at the Shaw Conference Centre exhibit hall...

I'm not into cars, but I couldn't resist...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Missions Fest seminar

... some doodling while attending a great talk at Missions Fest Alberta 2011.

There were some amazing stories in this particular seminar, and the crowd was quite engaged...

Many thanks to those who spoke, those who organized, and those who volunteered!

Friday, February 25, 2011


... at the airport in good old rainy Vancouver.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Narita Airport, Terminal 1 South Wing departure lobby

I had a few hours to kill before the flight across the Pacific, and more shopping wasn't helping my baggage allowance or my credit card, so I hung out at the departure lobby to do this spread...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

three years five months...

it wouldn't be fair not to follow up on the last post with one of our daughter, who is almost three and a half...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eight Months...

Our son, sleeping, close to eight months... he's a big fella...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Temple gate, Yahatamachi, Nagasaki

A view up a side street towards the gate into one of the many temple compounds on the hillside...  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nagasaki Baptist Church, Katafuchi, Nagasaki

Nagasaki Baptist Church, in the vibrant Katafuchi neighbourhood... I am told that the old sanctuary was designed by famed architect and missionary, William Merrell Vories.This church community has been my spiritual home whenever I have been in Nagasaki over the past 12 years...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nagayo Station, Nagasaki

A view of Nagayo Station, 15 minutes from Nagasaki, with the bright red sculptural steelwork and footbridge of Nakao-jo Park spanning two hills in the background... The rocky outcrop of Kotono-o-dake (Kotono-o Peak), I think, is at the left. A strip mall that includes some restaurants, a bookstore, and convenience store, is in the foreground.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Waiting for the train, Nagasaki

Sipping a cup of coffee at Nagasaki Station while waiting for the train back to Nagayo...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Two cards I made with the help of my daughter, who did some painting and gluing...

to all you lovers out there,

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

a prayer: "Dondon-zaka", Minami-Yamate, Nagasaki

This steeply sloped pathway in Minami-Yamate, affectionately known as Dondon-zaka, has been a bit of a personal "pilgrimage" site throughout my adult life... one of the houses accessed from this old stone-paved laneway was my father's childhood home, and I still remember playing as a 3-year-old with my grandfather at the house.

This beautiful vista towards Nagasaki Bay and the Mitsubishi Shipyards in particular is a view that, in my mind, serves as an emblem in our family's collective memory, and I have sketched it almost every time I have come here (seen also in the lower right sketch from my last post on February 10, 2011.)

With the passing of my father on January 1st this year, this latest version 2 weeks after his death was like an act of prayer... and I missed not being able to show it to him as I always used to do.

This was the last place he wanted to visit (and did visit) before cancer took his life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Four views of Minami-Yamate, Nagasaki

The Minami-Yamate neighbourhood, where my father grew up, is now arguably the most popular tourist destination in all of Nagasaki. It developed as a hillside settlement for foreigners in the mid 19th century, and included distinctive western style buildings (built with Japanese carpentry) that housed consulates and western businessmen like Thomas Glover (of Madama Butterfly fame), whose residential compound lies at the heart of the tourist draw. I'm told that a Russian family lived next door to my father in his youth. Sadly, most of these western-style houses have been torn down through the decades.

Now designated a historic preservation area, the area's beauty is derived not just from the unique foreign influences, but also from the intimately framed views towards Nagasaki Bay towards the Mitsubishi shipyards, as well as the fact that this is still a quiet but vibrant residential neighbourhood.

The historic Oura Cathedral is also located close by in Minami-Yamate.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nagasaki Airport

... a little sketch while having coffee at (none other than) Starbucks in the departure concourse at Nagasaki Airport.

It's a quaint little airport with flights mostly to and from other major Japanese hubs and local cities (mostly on remote islands within the prefecture), but increasingly also to Korea and China.

The interior makes some kitschy, literal references to the wood ribbed vaulting and arch motifs found in the historic churches found throughout the region...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nishizaka Church, part 2, Nagasaki

 I've visited many church buildings in my lifetime, but the two most beautiful ones I can recall are San Carlino (San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane) in Rome, and Nishizaka Church in Nagasaki. Both are small churches, perhaps similar in size but from completely different time periods and, obviously, geographic areas and cultures. And that  probably says something about the intimacy of a space in relation to a certain emotional impact.

But the newer church still follows a tradition of "building as text", with a rich interpretation of spiritual/Biblical symbolism all over the building. Every time I have visited Nishizaka Church over the last year (4 or 5 times?), I have discovered something new that helps reveal the richness of the Gospel message...the broken vessels forming the spires penetrating the heavens, the open veil-like motif surrounding the altar, the distinctive Japanese plum-shaped figure repeated throughout the building, the "angelic" crosses that flutter throughout the upper reaches of the space, the ark-like roof... all seem to revolve around the notion of "worship", and all seem worthy of contemplation, leading the heart towards God, much like its Baroque counterpart.

More images here.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nishizaka (San Filippo) Church and 26 Martyrs Memorial, Nagasaki

A steep climb up some narrow steps leads unexpectedly to a clearing in Nishizaka -- the park setting for the Twenty-Six Martyrs Memorial and the associated church. It was on Nishizaka hill in 1597 that 26 Christians were publicly executed under a policy of persecution that lasted for centuries.

The memorial and museum (at the left) and the church building (at the right) were completed in 1962. Designed by Kenji Imai, an architect who studied Gaudi, it's Ronchamp meets the Sagrada Familia... The church spires are clad with colourful pieces of broken ceramic vessels, and are said to each symbolize the prayers of the people ascending heavenward and the Spirit of God descending to His people; other symbolic gestures and fragments abound. 

Despite the importance of the events surrounding the site and its role in shaping the cultural, historic, and spiritual identity of the region, the memorial doesn't seem to draw much of a crowd... a good thing, given its contemplative nature.

More on the church later...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nagasaki Station railyards, Nagasaki

I had been searching for a good view of the huge gas tanks and the railyards, as they seem to be an iconic combination at Nagasaki Station, especially as this is what greets the trains as they slide into the terminal. I found it at a fairly discreet exit stair on the other side of the vibrant plaza. Inasa-yama, which has a gondola to the top, is the mountain at the left, and commands incredible views of the city and Nagasaki Bay.