Our Wedding Reception


Here continuing on from the wedding ceremony photos I posted yesterday are our reception photos. As I wrote previously, the venue was the Sodoh in Higashiyama, formerly an artist’s villa and about as Kyoto-rashi a place as you could ever hope for. As my family were traveling a long way for the wedding, I wanted them to experience a real Kyoto style wedding and this place really fit the bill! The photos were taken by a nimble chap from La-Vie Photography. And I must say he did an excellent job, because for much of the time I was hardly aware he was there. And you can see that he was running round getting every possible picture from every possible angle at a fair old pace, so the guy clearly has (dare I say it?) ninja skills.

akk04190202An intellectual discussion between big brother Patrick, and brother-in-law Peter.

akk04190235Sake barrel bashing. It’s a thing.

akk04190243My sister Bernadette’s toast: “Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain can we truly know what love means.


akk04190254A very happy Tadg.

akk04190258Our awesome band: Fujiya Mountain.

After our toast it was time to take pictures. Naturally everybody wanted to take pictures, so by the time this was over my cheekbones were hurting from constant smiling (no exaggeration).

akk04190276With Dylan & Asaki.

akk04190284With Nakano-kun.

akk04190286With Yoshida-kun and Tae.

akk04190290With Richard & Mika.

akk04190302With my family!

akk04190307With my big brother & Bernadette’s interminable tablet.

akk04190314With Yoshida-kun, Ayumi, Yutaka, & Tae.

akk04190321With Duncan & Izumi.

akk04190330A quiet moment.

akk04190344A happy selfie with Satoshi & Jeff (the two best dressed gents at the party).

akk04190349With Paul Carty, Christopher Fryman, Itsuyo Higashinaka, and Joseph Cronin (a fine body of men).

akk04190353With nice Mr. Fryman.

akk04190373My sister Christina’s speech/power point presentation.

akk04190382Can’t remember why we were laughing but it must have been a good one!

akk04190386The big picture.

akk04190389A video message from my old buddy Michael Potter.

akk04190393Coincidentally the day of our wedding was also the 27th wedding anniversary of my sister Sheila and her husband Peter. Here they are receiving some well-deserved applause.

akk04190391A video message from my mom.

akk04190426Miu’s speech.

akk04190430My speech.

akk04190444akk04190447Cake cutting (I never actually tasted it but I heard it was good).

akk04190449A wild horde of cameras.


akk04190515Our first dance.

akk04190519Some final words of thanks.

akk04190525Our sincere appreciation to all who joined us on the day.

akk04190530Congrats from Taisho.

akk04190569Saying goodbye to Max.

akk04190570With Robert & Chihiro.

akk04190571With Tadg & Mika McLoughlin and Brian Williams.

akk04190574A moment in the garden.

And that was our day! Next week I will start posting pictures from our honeymoon in Portugal. Till then…

akk04190589Ciao ciao!

Our Wedding Ceremony

Pagoda pose.

Pagoda pose.

Before I start sharing more honeymoon pictures I really ought to share our wedding photos. However, there are so many that I will have to break this up into a two parter with the reception pics coming next. The location is the Sodoh in Higashiyama, Kyoto. Formerly the private villa of early 20th century nihonga painter Takeuchi Seiho, it is now the site of a restaurant and wedding venue. To be honest when we went to see this location we assumed it would be too pricey for us, but we both fell in love with the beautiful buildings and gardens, and when I saw the chapel in particular, with the great glass window at the back looking out onto a waterfall… I knew that was where we would be married.

Here are the pictures from our wedding ceremony on the evening of Friday July 29th 2016.

akk04190048Feeling nervous…

akk04190067I don’t think I have ever felt prouder than the moment when Miu entered the chapel.

akk04190085The processional music was Appalachia Waltz and our celebrant was our good friend, John Dougill.

akk04190091My beautiful bride.

akk04190094My brother’s fine reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.

akk04190108Emi Uchigashima’s equally fine reading of Kaneko Misuzu‘s “Love: That is How you Behave” *


akk04190124Our vows.

akk04190134 akk04190137Exchanging the rings.

akk04190139And we are married!

akk04190144The bride & groom. Our recessional music was Seasons of Love from Miu’s favorite musical, Rent.

akk04190148akk04190160Thank you to our families!

akk04190159And thank you so much to everyone who joined us on the day!

* 愛それは行動です(金子 みすゞより)
愛 それは 言葉ではなく
愛 それは 言葉ではなく
愛 それは 言葉でなく
愛 それは 言葉ではなく

“Love: That is How You Behave” by Kaneko Misuzu

That is not a word
It is breaking a sweat

That is not a word
It is a mutual dedication

All of your joys
Sharing together
Through sadness and suffering
Walking together

That is not a word
It is something everlasting

That is not a word
It is believing in each other

Big Sis with her interminable tablet.

Reception photos will follow soon! Till then here’s Big Sis with her interminable tablet!

Honeymoon in Portugal

August 27, 2016
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First view of Lisbon from the plane." width="2448" height="2448" /> Our first view of the red rooftops of Lisbon seen from the plane.

Our first view of the red rooftops of Lisbon seen from the plane.

Mewby and I got back from two glorious weeks in Portugal last night and I thought I might resurrect this old scrapbook to share some pictures from our honeymoon trip. Portugal as it turns out is the ideal honeymoon destination. Its beautiful cityscapes, fine architecture, rich history, wonderful food and friendly people totally won us over and we would go back in a heartbeat. I did however take about 900 images so this will take multiple posts to cover. Here are just a few random images to give you a taste of what is to come.

Making friends in Viana do Castello

Mewby and some interesting graffitti in Porto.Mewby and some interesting graffitti in Porto.

Mewby and Michael reflecting on rail travel at Sao Bento Station, Porto. Mewby and Michael reflecting on rail travel at Sao Bento Station, Porto.

The world's biggest clay Barcelos Cock (it's a thing).The world’s biggest clay Barcelos Cock (it’s a thing).

IMG_1940Me & Papa Francisco at the Clérigos Church, Porto.

A view of Porto.

A view of Porto.

More to come!

A Birthday Trip to Hokuriku: Awara Onsen & Kanazawa

Saturday, October 31st, was Mewby’s birthday, so we took a birthday trip up to Hokuriku. As soon as I had finished my morning lessons, and pedalled back home, we made our way to Platform 0 at Kyoto Station (grabbing bento box lunches on the way) and jumped on the Thunderbird Limited Express bound for Awara Onsen!

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From the official Awara City website:

Awara Onsen opened in the 16th year of Meiji (1883).

The hot-spring spa’s birth goes back to 1883 when a farmer was digging an irrigation well in a reedy, swale swamp, and 80-degree hot spring with low salt content welled up. Next year in the 17th year of Meiji (1884), several onsen hotels opened and attracted visitors for toji (hot spring cure). LINK

We were staying at the Yuraku Hotel. Friendly service, lovely hot spring baths and great value for money. the meals were huge!

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I’m not sure why this hotel features a Roman soldier, but hey the local station features a dinosaur, so why not?

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The next day after a sumptuous breakfast…

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…we headed for Kanazawa. From the station we took the shuttle bus to Kenrokuen garden. We arrived at a little souvenir place, and stopping to use the conveniences, we found this odd little gallery. Everything on display here was made of candy:

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It seems Kanazawa is historically famous for its confectionary.

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Then onto Kenrokuen – one of the three great gardens of Japan. It might not look like much but this next picture is of Japan’s oldest fountain – all naturally powered too.

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Some more pictures from this beautiful private garden…








The statue of mythological figure, Yamato Takeru, above, was raised to commemorate soldiers from Ishikawa Prefecture who died in the Saga Rebellion of 1871.



The ropes being tied onto the trees, are called yukitsuru and are there to help protect the branches from Ishikawa’s heavy winter snows…

Then onto the castle!


This castle was first built in the 16th century, burned down several times and what we see now is largely a modern reconstruction.



After that we had a peak round Oyama Jinja Shrine. I liked this place.







We met a friendly crow here too.


After that we had a quick walk around some samurai houses…

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Before catching our train from Kanazawa Station….


Then back to Awara to jump on the Thunderbird, and homeward bound!

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The Best Horror of the Year – Seven

September 7, 2015
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I like to treat myself to a little horror every year…


He he he he he….

I love this series. And every year I tell myself I will have time to review this year’s anthology. But I never do. So I’ll just say that this series has reliably served up some cracking good stories from the darker side of literature for seven years now, and my anticipation for each year’s issue has never been disappointed. Judging by the first two stories in this issue, I won’t be disappointed this year either. All praise to the editor, Ellen Datlow, for her many good works!

Trip to the UK; July 2015

July 28, 2015
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Where many meals were eaten and walks were walked. I neglected to take any pictures of this part so am “borrowing” a couple.

Solihull by Mary M

This photo by Bernadette

Solihull by Miu

Walking with John in Solihull Park by Mewby


Mewby outside the house where Shakespeare was born.

Mewby outside the house where Shakespeare was born.

Mewby & my sister Christina waiting for their pub lunch.

Mewby & Christina waiting for their pub lunch.

Mewby outside the church where Shakespeare is buried.

Mewby outside the church where Shakespeare is buried.


A tour of impressively posh Stowe School with my sister Bernadette.

Mewby and Bernadette

Mewby and Bernadette

In the library

In the library

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Me & Bill Shakespeare at the Temple of Worthies...

Me & Bill Shakespeare at the Temple of Worthies…

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Two ladies in the Palladium

Two ladies in the Palladium



A whole lotta lamb

A whole lotta lamb


I spent a year in this town when I was 18. It felt a bit funny coming back here two decades after I last visited…

Me outside the Royal Oak pub in Oxford where I worked as a weekend bartender 1988-9. (This pic by Bernadette)

Me outside the Royal Oak pub in Oxford where I worked as a weekend bartender 1988-9 (this pic by Bernadette)

Lunch in the Royal Oak Oxford - I have to say it was very good!

Lunch in the Royal Oak Oxford – I have to say it was very good! (this pic by Bernadette)

The streets were packed!

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So it was a relief to get up in the clouds by climbing the tower of St. Michael at the North Gate.

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We did a bus tour as well, but I think we enjoyed it more than that grumpy looking lady behind us. This pic by Mewby.

We did a bus tour as well, but I think we enjoyed it more than that grumpy looking lady behind us. This pic by Mewby.


One day only we escaped to Cambridge. Apologies to my friends there who I didn’t have time to see. Next time!

The Backs...

The Backs…

Punting with Jasper…



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A picture postcard view of King’s College…

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Perfect light on Parker’s Piece…

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The wonderful Botanical Gardens…

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Up in the clouds again at Great St Mary’s Church tower…



The Senate House

The Senate House

That there in the distance is the University Library. Looks like a penis, eh?

That there in the distance is the University Library. Looks a bit phallic, eh?

A bunch of old buildings...

A bunch of old buildings…

Market Square

Market Square



Great St Mary's

Great St Mary’s


Walking on Mersea island with the Readers

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Hannah and Joe

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And then it was only a 30 hour journey to get back here! All well worth it though. Many thanks to all my family for putting us up, cooking great meals, showing us around and generally showing us a great time. I am missing you all already…

Spreading My Wings ~ My Writing in 2014

December 29, 2014
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2014 was the year I woke up to the fact that the best way to get yourself published, is simply to try. Oddly enough as soon as I had resolved to do that, writing opportunities (and some of them paid) seemed to start falling into my lap! Thus began a flurry of articles in the latter part of the year, most of which I am very pleased with, not least because of the wide variety of subject matter.

Earlier this year I had already written two pieces for Guide Advisor on Matcha Tea and Machiya Houses. Many thanks to Ted Taylor who got me the opportunity to write those.


In October, however, my writing career began in earnest when I was commissioned to write a piece on Kyoto for the British lifestyle magazine The Simple Things. To my surprise they wanted to use my pictures too! Read more here: My City: Kyoto.

inside kyotoThat month I also wrote a piece for Chris Rowthorn’s Inside Kyoto site on the new Heisei Chishinkan wing of the National Museum: A New Home for Ancient Treasures. All being well, I should be writing regularly for Inside Kyoto in the coming year.

In November my article on the Manga Faculty at Seika University appeared in Korean Airlines’ inflight magazine Morning Calm. It’s not a long piece but a lot of work went into it. Read more here: Cradle of Creativity.cradle

And Japan Today were kind enough to post my piece on marriage equality in Japan: New NPO brings same-sex marriage equality into Japanese public debate. I was very proud to add my name to this worthy cause.jtoday

kojikiIn December I wrote a guest post for John Dougill’s Green Shinto blog on the Kojiki exhibition in Nara. That was actually one of my favorite pieces to research and write, as I find all that ancient mythology fascinating…

And my review of Christine Flint Sato’s Sumi Workbook is in the latest issue of Kyoto Journal: The Unexpected Delights of Brushed Black Ink.kj

DeepKyoto-cover-0423-finalOf course in May, I also published an ebook: Deep Kyoto: Walks.

It’s been a good year, but it’s just a beginning. Next year I plan to spread my wings still further. I have one regular writing gig decided, and would obviously like more. I would also like to continue to diversify, by getting articles into more publications and on a wider variety of subject matter. And finally Ted Taylor and I will crowdfund an updated print version of Deep Kyoto:Walks next year with extra features, artwork and contributors. Here’s to 2015 and all the writing challenges and opportunities it may bring!


December 26, 2014
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I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage “to swim against the tide”. And also have the courage to be happy.
— Pope Francis (from his address to the volunteers of the 28th World Youth Day)

Of course this is somewhat taken out of context, but even so… There’s no denying, this current Pope, he’s a bit odd, isn’t he?

Star in the Night (1945)

December 24, 2014
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Riding through the night, three cowboys are led by a flashing star to Nick Catapoli’s Star Auto Court…

Don Siegel’s debut feature, this short film won an Academy Award in 1946 for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel). High on Christmas sentiment, it is a retelling of the nativity story with Mary and Joseph reimagined as Mexican migrants Maria and José Santos. On a cold Christmas Eve they take shelter at desert motel in the Southwestern US, run by Nick Catapoli, a man disillusioned by the selfish behaviour of the people he encounters day in and day out. For him the whole idea of Christmas spirit is a meaningless hypocrisy, with people only smiling because they want something… Well, the arrival of the two migrants and Maria’s sudden labour brings out the good in people as his guests rally round to help the young couple in any way they can and Nick’s belief in the goodness of human nature is restored. It’s a short but sweet retelling of the Christmas tale, with obvious influences from A Christmas Carol, and it works. It certainly jerked the tears out of me tonight. Merry Christmas everyone, and enjoy this one.

News from Ireland…

December 15, 2014
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news from Ireland:
this year from the apple trees
plentiful haiku

I wrote this haiku for David O Riordan, an artist and poet who posts on Twitter under the moniker: @Batuphonos. David writes haiku in English and Irish, using the traditional 5-7-5 syllable structure. I find his poems crisp and evocative and I always enjoy them.


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