Moving on up!

This week will be a quick one, as I have been working my tail off making a few changes behind the scenes.  The good news is this should open up a lot of opportunities for both you and me, and I’m very excited to be finally rolling these out.  The bad news is you might experience a bit of digital dust as I get everything settled.

You might have noticed that my homepage has some fresh pictures!

What you might not have noticed is I have actually finally migrated my website to a self-hosted platform.  I understand this won’t mean much to most of you out there, but bottom line: it gives me a lot more flexibility with what I can offer on my site.

The one I’m most excited about is the introduction of an integrated store!  Check it out here.  As new pictures are added, you’ll notice links below, indicating images that are available for purchase.  I’m offering fine art prints and canvas, metal, and framed images.  There’s also the added bonus of free e-cards; have fun!  And for those who don’t know, I adopt monthly charities, and I donate 25% of all proceeds.  Read more about that here.

Now, aside from the exciting news, I also wanted to let you know that with a move like this, there will inevitably be a bit of growing pains.  I have done what I could to minimize the impact, and I do apologize if I’ve missed anything.

First, if you have visited my site before, you might notice a security alert upon returning with a cached URL.  Have no fear; this just means some certificates have changed on my site.  Hopefully you won’t encounter that, but if you do, clearing your browser history will fix it.  Also, make sure the URL is using “http” instead of “https.”

Secondly, you might find some images that no longer show.  I’m checking through all of my posts and fixing them as I find them, but feel free to let me know if I missed one.  I’ve been blogging for over two years now; that’s a lot of content to check!

Finally, if you follow from WordPress.com and if you aren’t already, I would encourage you to sign up for email alerts.  My posts will no longer appear in Reader to new readers, and this ensures you don’t miss out on anything.  You’re also welcome to sign up for my monthly newsletter, where I give sneak peeks at my upcoming adventures, provide special discounts on prints, and show you some behind-the-scenes on how I create my art.

This has been a long process, and it’s one I’ve been wanting to do for some time.  I truly appreciate all of you who follow my excursions, and thank you for your patience through this transition.  I’m excited to grow my site and provide better ways of sharing my adventures with you!

As one last carrot, I’m very happy to announce that I’ll be starting to host monthly photo challenges, and I’ll want your submissions!  Be sure to check in next week for all the details 🙂


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A Taste of Japan: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

A visit to Kyoto isn’t complete without a trip through the stunning bamboo grove of Arashiyama.  There is nothing more humbling than acres of majestic trees towering above your head, cutting thousands of completely vertical lines 115 feet into the sky.

Bamboo has been revered for its durability for centuries, and it grows incredibly fast, making it a popular renewable resource; the wood is used in thousands of applications.  It is particularly important to the Japanese, who view it as a symbol of prosperity and see its simplicity as representing purity.  Bamboo is unique in its elegance, which is why stalks frequent many zen-hopeful desks, but they are seldom seen in such magnificence.

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A Taste of Japan: Old Meets New

Japan is full of some of the most amazing culture and fascinating history.  With a civilization many centuries old, Japan has had a lot of time to evolve.  However, they staunchly retain the rich past that defines their architecture, shrines, attitudes, and traditions.  They respect each other and have an incredible work ethic.  They impress the world every year with their technology, yet they loyally maintain structures that have been in existence for over 1300 years.

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A Taste of Japan: Nighttime Shrines

I only have a few more of these highlights before I get into the real meat of our trip.  This week has understandably been busy catching up from our vacation and preparing for another over Thanksgiving.  I know you’re anxious for the full daily accounts, but I’m afraid I’ll have to tease you for just a short while longer…

When you visit Japan, unless you try explicitly not to, you’re bound to wind up at a few shrines.  Fortunately, that’s ok, as every one is unique in their own way.  If you really want to mix it up, try visiting them after dark.  Check to make sure they’re accessible after hours, but if they are, this can provide a great opportunity to beat a lot of the crowds at some of the more popular destinations. Continue reading

A Taste of Japan: Street Food

Some of the best meals we had in Japan came from small street vendors.  We’re no strangers to personal proprietors specializing in a single dish (or few) from a small booth on a street corner; Portland’s food cart culture is renowned.  While we feared these establishments would be less adept at English, they actually proved easier when it came to ordering.  With only a few items offered – most physically present behind a glass pane – it was a simple matter of pointing and holding up two fingers.  And very like the much-loved, tiny food vendors at home, their business only survives if they’re really good (as patrons frequently have plenty of alternate options).

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A Taste of Japan: The Philosopher’s Walk

If you find yourself in Kyoto, set aside a morning for the Philosopher’s Walk.  Best un- (or lowly-) populated, early morning will afford you a quiet path upon which to calmly take in the song of the water and contemplate life’s mysteries.  The entire path is a little over a mile and is lined with shops, street vendors, restaurants, and temples.  Decorated with hundreds of sakura trees, this area is popular during cherry blossom season and is a great spot for fall color.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015 Continue reading