Sumoto Castle

The Drone

Introducing the Anafi drone from the French company parrot. She’s compact and has a great camera, but lacks obstacle avoidance sensors… do I need those? Only time will tell.

As a proficient drone pilot with two hours of flight time under my belt 🙂 I felt it was time for a challenge because we all love a challenge, don’t we…

The Castle

Sumoto castle has been a favourite of mine since moving here all those many years ago. My Showa era apartment, with its Japanese style toilet Washiki Benjo 和式便所, cold water only bathroom and head-banging brain cell losing door frames was and still is located at the base of Mt.Mikuma the mountain, which is really a hill 🙂

After work on many occasion, I would make my way up the gruelling when drunk path to view the city light nights below, alas the view from the castle was mediocre, trees had taken root and were obscuring the city view…boo…

Fast forward twenty years. The city must have scored a ton of cash from somewhere, They had decided to clean up the castle. A new public toilet was built, and trees on the East side were cut down to make sweet as picnic area. Trees on the North side were also mowed down, thus exposing the amazing once hidden stone foundations.

Droning at the present time is allowed around the castle, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (国土地理院) has an online map to show you restricted places to drone. Any area not in red is fine as long as you follow the Japanese drone rules and laws.

Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (国土地理院)

Why aren’t I?

Droning and taking time lapses of the castle, Hell even just more photos? It’s only a stone’s throw away. Funny how we fail to see what is in front of us.

Dusk and the Castle

Akashi-kakyo bridge tour

At almost 4km long, surviving a 7.2 magnitude earthquake before the competition the Akashi Bridge is currently the longest suspension bridge in the world.

This tour runs between April and November, the trip is 2 hours long, Twenty minutes of those up top and costs 3000 yen for adults and 1500 yen for children. There are some conditions so please check their website.

Location and Information

You need to book in advancd and since the tour is weather reliant remember to have a backup plan.

Hebo Matsuri – The Edible Wasp Festival

Black hornet festival

Smoking the hornets to sleep

Japan’s most dangerous festival 

YOUは何しに日本へ?

Landlocked Gifu prefecture is well known for insect delicacies from soy sauce boiled locusts to the more evil hornet larvae.

Held every year on Culture day (文化の日 Bunka no Hi) the 3rd of November in the small mountain city of Ena this festival attracts over 100 hornet-keepers who bring their boxed hornet nests to be weighed and sold to the public. On TV it’s plugged as Japan’s Most Dangerous Festival(日本一危険祭り Nihon Ichi Kiken Matsuri),  The chances of getting stung are fairly high (as I did) , But in reality it’s not that dangerous unless you are allergic to bees.

The festival starts at 10:00 and runs for around three hours. Festival food like venison and wild boar sausages, sticky rice goheibo mochi on a flat stick and dipped in an adult black hornet sauce are available if you get hungry and can endure the forty minute wait.

sticky rice goheibo mochi

If you are a beekeeper or have no problem with little flying insects buzzing around your head, I highly recommend this festival. Just remember to bring your beekeeper’s suit if you want to go in the hornet tent. If you have asthma or hate smoke, don’t even think about the tent, the smoke bombs used are rather obnoxious.

Campgrounds and a hot spring (Onsen) are located nearby if you want to rough it. The Onsen was 600 yen and a refreshing break from the buzzing black hornets.

The night before I decided to stay on the outskirts of Toyota city at a reasonably priced hotel and take a sixty-minute drive to the festival in the morning.

Festival Information

  • Festival name: Hebo Matsuri ヘボ祭り
  • Date: November 3rd (Culture Day)
  • Location: 3146 Kushihara, Ena-shi, Gifu-ken 509-7831

Gear used

  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • DJI Osmo 2
  • Nikon D5000 with 50mm

Friends hives, Un-friendly have

Last year my friend’s beehives were ravaged by hornets, so whenever I have the chance I like to check on them for him during hornet season.

Now, This year’s weather has been pretty much disastrous (lucky us) for the hornets on Awaji Island, torrential rain in spring to hinder the nest building followed by a couple of huge typhoons in late summer which drove the final nail into the coffin for the underground dwelling species. As for the hornets who build up high and dry, well…. Even that practice was no match against the tree uprooting wind and the bucket loads of endless rain

  1. The Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) is called ōsuzumebachi 大雀蜂 which is literally “great sparrow bee”.
  2. The Japanese yellow hornet (Vespa simillima xanthoptera) kiiro suzumebacho (キイロスズメバチ) the English translation is the same as the Japanese name.

Equipment used

Hard

  1. iPhone 7 Plus
  2. Quad lock case
  3. iMac (Retina 5K, 27 inch late 2015)

Soft

  1. Adobe Premiere Pro
  2. Keynote

Giant Asian Hornets

For any bee keeper losing a hive is a sad time. I am lucky enough to keep the Japanese honeybee, a very sturdy honeybee. In fact the only time I really need to worry about my hives is during the autumn months when the giant asian hornet decides to turn it’s radar onto my hives.

It’s been well documented that Japanese honeybees can ward off attacks from these hornets, however I have found that if the hornets are persistent enough the bees really have no chance.

The beekeeper does have one weapon in their arsenal, using the Japanese Hornets attack pheromone against itself.

Using sticky paper I catch one Hornet, and then make it super angry (this is not hard to do 🙂 ) . Then lay the paper in the path of the oncoming hornets and one by one they die to there sticky deaths.

aftermath of hornet attack
Aftermath of hornet attack, bees gone, honey intact, larvae eaten.