The stadium has a rich history, but is mainly known as the home of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Aiko's aunt is a hardcore Fighters fan and always hooks us up with baseball tickets!
At this game free baseball jerseys were being handed out at the door, and they guessed my size perfectly! We stopped to get something to eat and then went to the top tier to watch the game, this time we had standing seats since it was short notice - but to be honest you get an amazing view of the entire field that really helps with learning the sport.
Ignore the fluorescent green, melon soda is one of Aiko's childhood favourites and with good reason. The taste is in the Honeydew or Galia spectrum, anything melon flavoured in Japan is guaranteed to be delicious!
There is always a great vibe at the dome - children running around in full baseball gear, older and younger couples engrossed in the other little things going in and around the stadium. The last time we came there was an amazing fireworks display right after the game, this time there was a street market selling all kinds of grilled goodness.
The smoked roast chicken was unusual but delicious, it had a sticky sweet flavour with rich, fatty smoked skin - balanced out with a firm, juicy bite of chicken underneath that was very tasty. Here's some advice - please do not touch this chicken with your bare fingers while eating unless you love the smell of smoked chicken passionately.
No amount of licking helped.
I wanted to hijack this remote controlled blimp.
There were about 40,000 in attendance for this game, we were up against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
We snuck off to the observatory mid-game for a panoramic view of the field and the surrounding area.
Back to the game.
Meet BIll and Kaoru, Aiko's Aunt and Uncle!
I was still quite tired since it was the DAY AFTER WE LANDED, but I truly love baseball. It's always great to catch the high school games on TV while I'm there, they play with a poise and passion that's quite impressive.
Right now I'm listening to 相対性理論 and trying to think of the best way to kick this collection of over 1000 photographs off.
I love travelling to Japan with Aiko, it really puts things into perspective and allows for a much needed change of pace.
When we travel to Japan together we stay in Hokkaido at Aiko's late Grandfather's house. if Japan is a banana then Hokkaido is the stalk bit poking out at the top, it's Japan's second largest island and home to many things unique to the rest of Japan - namely beer, bears and 6ft snow.
Aiko's family house is in Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido and 4th largest in Japan. I love the vibe there. Hokkaido has sprawling, lush landscapes, modern underground malls and quiet, friendly suburbs all on the same train line.
Aiko has shared her childhood memories with me first hand - I will always see Sapporo as my second home and I'm forever grateful to her for that.
The weather is a flirt - teasing your jacket off then giving you the cold shoulder or just a cold. Here are a few shots to commemorate a particularly foggy morning which I thought would be the last of autumn.
There's no shade along Avenue du Marechal Gallieni, there were some people relaxing on L'esplanade des Invalides, but I just wanted to get out of the sun for at least 5 minutes!
Onward to Les Invalides.
Into the Cour d'honneur.
Such elegant symmetry as you walk towards Les Invalides, with Mansart's chapel dome in the background, I think the best way to explore these buildings is in one trip.
We took a quick look around the Musée de l'Armée.
Saint Louis des Invalides.
And then continued on to Place de la Concorde.
I could spend months living in Paris easily, especially with all of the fantastic open spaces to visit, and so much history behind each location - buildings, spaces and architecture completely unmarred by modern society.
We cut through the Jardin des Tuileries.
This gentleman was taking an outdoor bath.
There were all kinds of characters out enjoying the afternoon, an almost nude painter even.
Finally some shade!
L'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, perfectly aligned with its bigger brother back at Place de l'Étoile.
We made it to The Louvre!
Almost time to head back.
What's that in the distance? There was no way Aiko was going home without taking a look!
Looking at this picture of the Ferris Wheel just reminds me of how many more things there are to do in Paris. I covered everything on foot but next time I need to get vertical - should be fantastic with the 18mm.
I wanna try this.
This looked great too.
We got ourselves some peach iced tea flavoured slushies using some of the most suspect French uttered thus far, unfortunately skills in Français need work but I respect Aiko's bravery!
I took a quick look at the infamous Collete, but left underwhelmed BECAUSE THE INTERNET.
Still a gorgeous backstreet to explore.
We went back to the apartment for some rest, and then went shopping at Monoprix for our last dinner in Paris, just some cheeses, bread, Pâté and wine. Needless to say it was delicious! Early start the next day, back on the iD bus for the 8 hour ride home.
J'ai beaucoup appris de toi Paris - Merci Beaucoup!
Today it was nearly 30°C outside, pink lemonade and pizza then out the door.
I wanted to get as many landmarks out of the way as possible so that I could spend my next trip to Paris exploring new things. Aiko and I planned a route that would take us from the Arc de Triomphe all the way to The Louvre, which is virtually a straight line.
A walk down the beautiful Avenue des Champs-Élysées, a quick stop at Ponte Alexandre III, through Place de la Concorde to peep the Obelisk of Luxor, then on toward the Louvre.
We got to Charles de Gaulle - Étoile Metro station.
The traffic was absolutely crazy.
Overzealous drivers overtaking with reckless abandon, vespas weaving to dodge overzealous tourists hopping barriers and running right out in front of said speeding drivers - just excessively zealous behaviour for the most part.
I decided that I dislike being hit by cars and took the underground passage instead.
The Arc de Triomphe.
A truly inspiring monument, the detail in each warrior was further pronounced by the beautiful midday sun. I didn't want to leave this spot but alas, we couldn't leave Paris unexplored.
Thank you Jean Chalgrin and Jean-Nicholas Huyot.
It wouldn't be a trip to Paris without paying homage to Louis Vuitton.
This was pulled up with the hazard lights on, I wonder who was making a quick run.
The Ferrari 458 Italia.
I could alway rent one of these, but I don't think Aiko and I are ready to do any driving in Paris just yet, especially when we nearly got flattened twice while crossing.
Stepping out into the road looking left instead of right means I'd be pulling out of junctions doing the same thing!
Super cool Parisian alert, easily an 80 on the super cool Parisian-o-meter.
We continued down Avenue des Champs-Élysées trying our best not to get sidetracked by the cafés and luxury stores, we'll save that for another time!
A lovely Porche.
We took a moment to walk beside the Seine before walking along the extravagantly ornate Pont Alexandre III.
Then we were ambushed by a group of tourists on Segway PTs.
J'aime cette photo.
This ice cream vendor had quite the sales pitch, apparently this stand has been there for generations.
Bye bye boat!
Nymphs de la Seine.
I really enjoyed shooting at this bridge, so much subject matter.
Art Nouveau Lamps.
Staring into these statues, you can't deny their other-worldly aura.
Anna's apartment was 2 minutes away from one of the best bakery I've ever been to and across the road from a Metro station, the only two things you really need in Paris! We ate a light breakfast of freshly baked chicken and mushroom pizza with Agrum flavoured Schweppes and set off - the plan?
We roughly planned out a route that would lead us past Le Jardin du Luxembourg, then on to Saint-Michel where we'd jump on the Metro to Champ de Mars - Let's go!
Take a look at this mannequin in front of Christian Lu, vêtement femme apparently.
There are a handful of gorgeous bakeries and cafes along Rue de Vaugirard, but we'd already eaten.
When we got to Le Jardin du Luxembourg we were met with sprawling lawns, quiet paths, majestic statues and armed police - Très jolie!
This is La fontaine Médicis built in 1630. Very secluded, very romantic.
The gardeners were all in high spirits, telling jokes and messing around.
Possibly because of the great weather - 27°C!
There was an air of excitement around the Grand Bassin where kids were gliding boats across the water.
So many characters.
Aiko took a quick break.
After some more exploring we left the park en route for Saint-Michel metro station. I'm serious when I say that certain cars truly stand out in Paris, especially in that off white colour.
Hatchbacks that marry classic flair with modern lines really work well with Paris as a backdrop - the intentions of the design flourish.
This guy was too cool for school, straight out of the mid 80s.
We took another break at Notre-Dame de Paris.
And then continued on to Saint-Michel.
While we were on the train a kind Parisian nodded at my camera and pointed at the window.
Champ de Mars is stunning, you turn the corner from the train station and there it is, the Eiffel Tower in all it's grandeur.
We wandered around some more and then decided to head home, cutting through the fairground on our way back.
Her facial expression says it all, so does his!
Barbe à papa, daddy's beard.
Walking back to the apartment was really therapeutic.
It was a lesson in architecture, scenes like this warrant a revisit.
This vespa convinced me, I'm learning to ride in the near future!
Does this scene look familiar? I spent a moment standing here, it's a great spot - points to whoever recognises it first!
Almost back at the apartment, we spend about €4 between us and had a cool little afternoon wandering around. Paris is very walkable, but Aiko and I still argued over which car we'd drive around the city.
Getting here was last minute in every sense of the word.
A huge thank you to Anna for lending us her apartment key for a few days, I was so determined to get out of the country that we actually booked an 11PM coach to Paris from my phone while standing in Victoria Bus Station.
There is nothing like that sense of calm you get once you're finally sat on that flight, train or coach you've been rushing to, everything has been triple-checked and you know there's nothing left to do but wake up at your destination, I love that feeling.
We got to Montparnasse at 8AM, not bad for £40 if you ask me.
The weather forecast was between 25 and 32°C for the entire week!
We dropped our bags off and then took a look at the local area, making mental notes of where Monoprix, Carrefour and Speedy Rabbit Pizza were just in case we had to make a late night run. The last time I visited Paris I didn't get the opportunity to wander around, Aiko and I had nothing planned so spontaneity was in the air!
Paris is a place of constant photo-ops.
Some more unexpected than others!
Scooters are everywhere.
We did some more exploring.
This Harley is beautiful, check out the studded pannier bags.
Cream coloured cars look fantastic in Paris for some odd reason.
Our thoughts quickly turned to food.
Then we decided to head back to the apartment to get out of the sun, relax and practice some french phrases!
J'adore Paris, let this trip be the first of many!
Aiko has never eaten meringue, have you ever tried to describe what meringue is to someone who hasn't eaten one before? First try convincing them that meringue is actually what it's called.
I absolutely adore turkish delight, possibly my favourite confectionary treat besides anything from Lawsons.
When I move out I'm going to be in trouble, so much food shopping will take place.
Apples in abundance, 40p isn't bad now that I think about it, plus I finally got a blender. The jug bit that you put your ice and ingredients in doubles as a travel mug which is ingenious, I've already made an unholy amount of lazy banana ice cream with it, it's the Kenwood SB055 Smoothie 2GO - Go and get one!
Cakes and macaroons, I don't want to eat one until I visit Paris again.
This indoor garden would make a nice place to read a book.
Herbs and spices.
Call me boring but I love Victoria sponge cake. If I was entrusted with teaching an extra terrestrial being of our human ways I'd use Victoria sponge cake to explain cake.
Look at it!
A stunning work of art, and a matching red Vespa.
Now this is my type of Burger, I can't quite remember what it was called but it was Boston pork sausage mince with a Blueberry Cranberry relish and some kind of gooey smoked cheese, I should have written it down.
Time to head home.
Le Shard, still haven't been up there yet. I'm sure it's a spectacular vantage point when the sky allows, maybe next summer.
For our 5th anniversary I made reservations at L'Atelier Du Joel Robuchon. We actually have two anniversaries, the official one in April and another in December - both on the 17th.
A Lychee Cosmopolitan and a Strawberry Mojito to start, with some of the best bread and butter I've ever tasted - it smelled so good that I wasn't sure if it was morally right to tear into it, it deserved to exist.
L'amuse Bouche? A shot of Fois gras parfait with parmesan and port wine. Very strange, very mourish.
Starters were equally as delicious.
Only topped by the mains.
This complimentary side sent out to accompany my Iberico pork chop was so delicious that I just had to ask what was in it, our waiter replied nonchalantly "well... just cabbage, butter, salt and pepper."
Suspicious of his answer I tasted it again, all sensibilities were lost.
Needless to say dessert was amazing too, my first experience at the two Michelin Star restaurant was a great one.
The restaurant's atmosphere is intimate, secluded and sophisticated. We could talk, laugh and enjoy our food without feeling watched, and immediate table service was only a glance and a nod away.
For the December 17th we usually do something a little bit more casual, I'm thinking sushi, I'm thinking Covent Garden - expect pictures!
Here is a project that I worked on with my girlfriend Aiko, she was finishing here Media Arts Production course at Greenwich University and wanted to put together something special as her final project.
I'm really pleased with the finished project, it was an ideal opportunity to get to know my other girlfriend, the Fuji X Pro 1 - a photowalk with two of my favourite girls, what's not to love?
The key to this style of photography is a fast shutter speed, we were shooting at 6fps and using the shots where Aiko was at the peak of the jump. I tried to shoot as carefully as possible to avoid camera shake, the X Pro was more than capable.
The canal shots were really difficult as light was getting low and it was absolutely freezing, but I'm glad we shot here since Aiko and I spent a lot of time here during our early days together.
This is one of my favourite shots, the colours are great and it builds on the humour we tried to invoke with a few of the other shots - you should have seen the look on the face of the barista.
It was getting dark so we had to be even more resourceful with our shot choices, sticking close to windows was a great help.
Another one of my favourites here.
Thanks for hanging in there Aiko!
Jumping over 40 times to get each shot right isn't fun, especially when we were really going for a natural and flowing aesthetic which meant a lot of retries. I made sure we went out for a nice meal to get out of the cold afterwards, no pictures unfortunately!
This collection actually went on to win an award, you'd have to ask Aiko about the specifics but it was definitely a welcome surprise at her graduation ceremony. We worked very hard on the project and have some prints to send to family in Japan.
We will definitely continue the series at one point in the future.