All posts by Bryan Cole

Plymouth, CA – A throwback to the Gold Rush days

Did you know there is a town named Plymouth here in California ? Well, since I’m still rediscovering my roots here in NorCal, I just got in the car and drove the 1 hour from my place. The trip was very slow paced and leisure as I had no real time schedule. Since retiring, that is one of the perks which I now take for granted. Stopping along the way just to look around at the rolling green pastures and take in all the sounds and scents was great therapy. I continue to learn about the colorful history of the area and put all the pieces together. Plymouth is also part of the Gold Rush history. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:
“Plymouth (formerly, Puckerville, Pokerville, and Poker Camp) is a city in Amador County, California, United States. The population was 1,005 at the 2010 census. The town was originally named Pokerville, when it was settled during the time of the Gold Rush. Plymouth is commonly now known as a “Gateway to Shenandoah Valley”; a popular wine producing region in the Sierra foothills. The Ione Band of Miwok Indians, a federally recognized tribe of Miwok people, is also headquartered in Plymouth. ” Well, definitely on my next trip I want to drop in on a few wineries.

Let’s Stay In Touch – I’d love to share my journey !

Almond Blossoms in Northern California

Almond blossoms and bees buzzing around collecting pollen _ these were the only things I was aware of this afternoon. Very peaceful and a time for reflection. I would venture to say that most people, outside this area, wouldn’t know the difference between the almond blossom, plum blossom or cherry blossom. Growing up in the area it seems to be a seventh sense we have and the tree’s shape, type of leaf and clustering of the blossoms, help us to identify the blossoms. It is such a peaceful site to see these rows and rows of blooming trees – virtually no people and only the sounds of chirping birds and bees buzzing around gathering pollen.

Let’s Stay In Touch – I’d love to share my journey !

Farmer’s Markets In California’s Heartland

Farmer's Market Greens
Farmer’s Market Greens

Felt the need to deviate from “things Japan” for this post. The Farmer’s markets around Sacramento, CA here in California’s capital are many and so packed full of nearby farmers alongside early morning shoppers. So many of us have come by to meet friends, smell all the smells, have a cup of freshly brewed coffee and of course pay the best prices for local vegetables, fruit and much more. If you haven’t been to a Farmer’s market recently, make plans to get up early one day and feel the energy that is always present at one of these markets.

*Need a bell pepper, T-shirt or hooded sweatshirt to celebrate that Farm2Fork energy, click the following picture to check it out.

Original designs _ Redbubble store
Original designs _ Redbubble store

GION – Traditional Kyoto Now

Traditional architecture, Gion
Traditional architecture, Gion

Gion is a traditional district stretching from the Kamo-gawa River in the west, as far as Yasaka-jinja Shrine in the east. In the 17th year of Kyoho (1732), Kyoto received official permission from the goverment to begin construction of the teahouse quarters, which is the present day Gion area.

Later, as Kabuki drama became popular on the Gion district’s western edges, more sophisticated forms of entertainment were developed for the theater-goers, and so today Gion is known as Kyoto’s most famous Geisha/Maiko district. Packed with bars, restaurants and traditional teahouses, Gion is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice Geisha, known as Maiko in Kyoto, can be seen along the back streets on their way to dinner appointments.

Kyoto Geisha, Sunday Afternoon
Kyoto Geisha, Sunday Afternoon

Day or night, there is a lot to see here including shrines, numerous cafes, temples and historic sites which all add to the Gion’s picturesque streets.

Let’s Stay In Touch – I’d love to share my journey !

“Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes” by Bryan Cole

Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes
Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes

This particular shade of blue can be found throughout Japan and is one of my favorites. The traditional color is used for dyeing kimono material as well as Noren curtains used in entrance ways to traditional businesses/restaurants and a denim type of material used for everything from pants to festival wear and cloth shoes (tabi) worn by construction workers. “Ai” or indigo is a natural dye made of fermented leaves of indigo mixed with water. Dyeing thread or cloth with indigo is called “aizome” in Japanese. In the Edo period (1603-1868), just about everyone from common folk to samurai used indigo dyed clothes. Today we can also see it being used for the traditional HAPPI coat at many festivals in Japan.
There is an incredible BLOG about Indigo Blue The Ardent Thread, and the writer also fell in love with Kyoto and the culture that is so vibrant in the historical city.

Let’s Stay In Touch. I’d love to share my journey !

Continue reading “Kyoto Indigo Blue Bikes” by Bryan Cole

New Sake Trends in the USA


Sake Trends
Sake Trends


AAfter attending a recent Japan Sake and Food Show here in California, one thing appears very clear and that is the increasing knowledge of Sake including their profile descriptions and food pairings. The line-up of Sake at most Japanese restaurants in the US is improving, and this includes covering a variety of prefectural regions where Sake is brewed and various grades.  And while most guests may prefer traditional types of Sake, there is a growing population of those who have the taste for something a bit more sweet, more like a cocktail.

In the Sake world, there is a new category of the sweeter types, Flavored Nigori and Sparkling Sake, which are catching on even among those who usually don’t drink sweet tasting Sake. It’s quite refreshing and goes well with various foods.

And since the word O-SAKE can actually mean all types of beer/wine/Sake, the show was attended by Japan’s top beer breweries, Sapporo and Asahi. Sapporo sampled their dark beer, Sapporo Premium Black which is crafted with roasted dark malts and a refined hop bitterness that is “complemented by a sweet, round fullness and distinct coffee and chocolate flavors.”

Photography and AfternoonCoffee ?

Follow me @bryanAfternoon
Follow me @bryanAfternoon

I only recently started posting on Instagram. In the earlier days of this particular social media, it was used as an alternative portfolio or a way to keep your followers up to date on your day to day photo musings. But as Instagram has grown – recently announcing it had grown to 500 million users (June 2016) – it has become, for some, an opportunity to work on commercial shoots where posting on their own Instagram feeds is part of the deal. Take a closer look at Chris Ozer’s account – he is clearly one of the most popular professional photographers on Instagram with a following of 658,000 people. He has posted to his feed during campaigns for Swiss Army, Stella Artois and Land’s End.

Here are a few hashtags to help get your photography noticed:


Instagood is a popular Instagram account that shares inspiring photos from the community. All you have to do is to use the #instagoodmyphoto tag with all your creative pictures that are relevant for their feed. Each month they choose a team of curators from the community, that will be in charge for the month’s picks. They’re listed in the account’s description that is visible to an audience of about 700k Instagram users, so it’s a pretty big deal to be selected by one of the curators.


JustGoShoot is a community of photographers that share their best work by using the #justgoshoot hashtag. They share artworks from really talented photographers. So you really need to have quality content to be considered. But there’s a huge community around this hashtag, so you’ll get exposure from using it even if you’re not featured on the JustGoShoot account.


Visualsoflife is the hashtag used by an entire global community, where people inspire each other trough creative artwork. If you use this hashtag on your travel, landscape or lifestyle photography, the team behind this popular Instagram account could choose your works to regram in front of an audience of 124k people.
Even if you are not among the lucky ones, using the hashtag #visualsoflife can get you enough exposure to grow your account.

And YES, I’ll continue to have my afternoon coffee and photos too !


The Buddhist Monks’ Robes (and other stories)

There are 1,600 Buddhist temples scattered throughout the prefecture of Kyoto. Known as “the city of a thousand temples,” you’ll also find 400 Shinto shrines, a trio of palaces, and dozens of gardens and museums! According to Wikipedia, Kyoto boasts more World Heritage Sites per square inch than any other city.

For me while living in Japan, I viewed Kyoto as a special place I could escape to by SHINKANSEN/ Bullet Train from Tokyo for a magical weekend of impressive cuisine served in monasteries, gardens and alongside rivers as well as a chance to learn more about Japan’s history. Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the emperor from 794 to 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. Kyoto thus spent a millennium as the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion. During this time Kyoto accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, geishas and monks. And Kyoto was one of the very few Japanese cities to escape Allied bombings during World War II. Buddhist monks in Japan are quite friendly and have always been willing to stop and talk to me as well as pose for my camera. If you are a little adventurous, head over to a small bar ran by some Kyoto Monks, Bozu Bar 京都坊主BAR. But getting back to the Monks, there are many styles and colors of Buddhist monks’ robes you’ll notice in Japan, and they don’t all resemble the ensembles worn by the monks in these photos, however, the robes in the photograph do illustrate how the Chinese style seen in Photo 6 was adapted in Japan. These were taken in Kamakura and Kyoto recently.

The practice of wearing a shorter outer robe over a longer white or gray kimono is distinctively Japanese.

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It’s Boba Time !


Have you tried a boba milk tea yet ?

They seem to be everywhere in LA and if you head over to Koreatown or K-Town, these cafes are on every block, literally. I like the chewy boba pearls made from the root of a plant, which sit at the bottom of your cup. The special large size straw allows you to suck-it-up with ease. One of my favorite cafes is called, IT’S BOBA TIME and the staff there are cheerful, young guys that seem to know their craft pretty well. Many customers order drinks which use fresh fruits in the smoothies and slushes, and all of the drinks are made-to-order. You can customize each treat with real fruit and popular toppings—so you can add boba in whatever you choose. Be sure to stop by and say HI to Joon, the manager – with the biggest smile. Check for locations here BOBA