World War I Commemorated: “We’re here because we’re here”

World War I Commemorated: "We're here because we're here"

This weekend, volunteers took part in an artwork installed across the UK to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The piece was conceived by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and the National Theatre’s Rufus Norris – the latest commission from 14-18 Now.

 “We’re here because we’re here” involved thousands of soldiers dressed in First World War uniforms appeared unexpectedly in towns and cities across the UK as part of a live public memorial on an unprecedented scale. The project marked the centenary of the Battle of the Somme during World War I, fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire.

Our team researched an in-depth guide to the causes of World War I exploring the debates as to what actually caused the war which you can read here.

Also be sure to check out Zay Harding in this Globe Trekker Special as he travels across Northern France and Belgium, visiting key World War 1 locations on the Western Front.worldwar1-3








Main image credit: ‘we’re here because we’e here’ conceived and created by Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, photo by Eoin Carey

A Strawberry Affair

A Strawberry Affair
Welcome to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year when there are approximately 17 hours of light. The name comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still” and happens because the sun stops heading north at the Tropic of Cancer and then returns back southwards.


In the northern hemisphere this means the days begin to get shorter. But 2016 is a special year, because the solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon, a once or twice-in-a-lifetime occurence. This particular full moon, which occurs in June, was named by the tribes indigenous to America and the harvesting of strawberries in June gives that months moon its name.


Europeans have dubbed it the rose moon, while other cultures named it the hot moon for the beginning of the summer heat. The two events coincide once every 70 years.


Hope your view of the moon is clear tonight – remember to look up!


The main image pictured is: “Blue Canyon Moon (5020077179)” by John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – sourced via

Nautically Yours, Ian’s Photo Diary from Norway, Part 3

Nautically Yours, Ian's Photo Diary from Norway, Part 3

Ian’s adventure’s on the high seas have also been chance for some sketching…and the results are impressive, even moreso considering the wavy days!



Nautically Yours, Ian’s Photo Diary from Norway, Part 2

Nautically Yours, Ian's Photo Diary from Norway, Part 2

As our Ian sails across the high seas of Norway, in a variety of vessels, filming for the brand new series, Tough Boats, he has sent across his second photo diary update!

Plus you can read our destination guide to Norway which features plenty if information on this striking country.


Nautically Yours, Ian’s Photo Diary from Norway, Part 1

Nautically Yours, Ian's Photo Diary from Norway, Part 1

Ian has been on the road, or rather, travelling the seas in a variety of vessels, in the northern reaches of Norway, filming for the all new Tough Boats series. Between takes, Ian has been sketching, filming and snapping and holding on to his hat on the high seas!

And if Norway takes your fancy you can check out our Oslo to Bergan programme here


To the cat cafés and beyond!

To the cat cafés and beyond!

Looking for portals into other cultures is a chance to unearth fascinating insights and perspectives, and if you get lucky, they may well be of the weirdly wonderful variety.

A couple of weeks ago a press release announcing the opening of a hedgehog café in Tokyo caught my eye. Adorable tiny, prickly creatures with pointy pink noses were filmed being held in the palms of cafe customers who pay around $12 for the experience. I had heard of cat cafés, sure, even Shoshanna, the best loved character from television series Girls, worked at a neko kafe in the latest series. But hedgehogs? And if there were hedgehogs cafés surely there were other animal cafés – what other parts of this phenomenon had I missed out on? It turned out, quite a lot.


Shoshana and the cats, Season 5, Girls.

Alongside cats and hedgehogs, you can sip your matcha latté whilst stroking slobbering dogs, fluffy rabbits, goats, owls (no stroking these guys – it stresses them out), parrots, slithery snakes and even penguins…penguins? Putting aside  contentious issues surrounding animal cruelty, it’s an interesting concept merging elements of anti-stress therapy, education and the super on-trend experiential consumerism so desired within the tightly-packed, synthetic led, urban environments.

Cafe Baron

Cafe Baron

Animals twisted and twined with spirits conjoining into demons that appear across Japanese mythology and folklore such as Bake-kujira – an apparition from western Japan taking the form of a large ghostly skeleton whale said to be accompanied by strange birds and fish, or Akabeko, a legendary cow from the Aizu region of Japan, who inspired a traditional toy. Aizu legend claims that the toys are based on a real cow used to build the Enzō-ji temple in the ninth century. All these creatures wind their way into the popular anime exports we know and love in the ‘West’: think Hello Kitty, Pikachu from the Pokemon series, Catbus aka Nekobasu and Totoru himself in My Neighbour Totoru.

Catbus or Nekobasu in My Neighbour Totoro.

Catbus or Nekobasu in My Neighbour Totoro.

Ubiquitous animals such as the humble cat are elevated to dreamlike status; the Studio Ghibli classic short animation, The Cat Returns is brought to life on the island of Tashirojima, inhabited by only a hundred people, stray cats in their thousands roaming around, living in tribes, fed and cared for by the locals who believe it brings good fortune. On the island of Miyajima, deer wander freely through the streets and parks. The spot has long been considered a holy place for much of Japanese history. In 806 AD, the monk Kōbō Daishi ascended Mt. Misen and established the mountain on Miyajima as an ascetic site for the Shingon sect of Buddhism.

Japanese Sika Deer at Miyajima by Richard Fisher creative commons license

Japanese Sika Deer at Miyajima by Richard Fisher creative commons license

Animals inhabiting our virtual imaginations has been handled with a peculiar grace by Japanese designers. Back in 1966 when the infamously awesome virtual pet simulation game, Tamagotchi, hit the market they were an instant hit around the world – by 2010, 76 million had been sold. More recently, Paro, the interactive robo-seal, was introduced to the pet therapy market. It has found its place in elderly care homes where the tactile toys offer emotional connection to make up for the shortfall of human comfort, presently unable to fill the demand required by an ageing population. Inventor Takanori Shibata says he designed Paro to evoke memories of pets and babies. Powering it are two 32-bit processors, three microphones, 12 tactile sensors covering most of its fur, touch-sensitive whiskers and a system of motors that silently move its parts. It weighs about 6 pounds, feels warm and sucks on a pacifier-like charger.


Paro the seal at with a patient in a nursing home.

This seems like a good place for to pause and reflect on how virtual and physical experiences merge and mingle through our ever expanding desire to connect.

Check out Megan when she visited Central Japan

Plus our Tokyo to Taiwan guide

And there’s plenty more on Japan to explore throughout the site!


A Life Well Lived: Medicine Crow

A Life Well Lived: Medicine Crow

Joseph Medicine Crow, a Native American historian and the last war chief of the Crow Tribe of Montana died this week on April 3, aged 102.

Medicine Crow, pictured here, at a ceremony to award him Presidential Medal of Freedom, shows a drum during a reception for recipients and their families in the Blue Room of the White House on Aug. 12, 2009.

Medicine Crow, pictured here, at a ceremony to award him Presidential Medal of Freedom, shows a drum during a reception for recipients and their families in the Blue Room of the White House on Aug. 12, 2009.

Over the long course of Medicine Crow’s life, among many he was a father, a warrior, a solider, a writer, an anthropologist, and an activist.

The Crow, called the Apsáalooke in their own Siouan language, or variants such as Absaroka, are Native or indigenous Americans, from the Yellowstone River valley which extends from what is today Wyoming, through Montana and into North Dakota, where it joins the Missouri River. They are enrolled in the federally recognized Crow Tribe of Montana.

The Crow Tribe name given to Medicine Crow was High Bird. A member of the Crow Tribe’s Whistling Water clan, Medicine Crow was raised by his grandparents in a rural area of the Crow Reservation near Lodge Grass, Montana.

His grandfather, Yellowtail, raised Medicine Crow to be a warrior, training Medicine Crow from when was just 7 with a rigorous physical regimen that included running barefoot in the snow to toughen his young feet and spirit.  Crow tradition required, that in order for a man to become chief, he had to command a war party, enter an enemy camp at night and steal a horse, wrestle a weapon away from his enemy and touch the first enemy fallen, without killing him.

The conditions of the tradition were in fact fulfilled by Medicine Crow during World War II where, on the battlefield, he earned the title of War Chief after performing a series of daring deeds, including stealing 50 Nazi SS horses from an enemy encampment and hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier whose life he ultimately spared.

Despite serving in a war dominated by automatic weapons, heavy artillery, and tanks armed with 88mm cannons, Medicine Crow held on to the time-honored practices of his tribe, always wearing bright red war paint into combat, strapping a sacred yellow-painted eagle feather to his helmet for good luck:

“Warfare was our highest art, but Plains Indian warfare was not about killing. It was about intelligence, leadership, and honor,” Medicine Crow wrote in Counting Coup, one the many books he published over the course of his lifetime.

The Associated Press reports, Medicine Crow became the official historian for the Crow Tribe shortly after returning from service in World War II. The news service adds:

“Yet Medicine Crow also embraced the changes that came with the settling of the West, and he worked to bridge his people’s cultural traditions with the opportunities of modern society.”

He was the first member of his tribe to earn a master’s degree in Anthropology and went on to receive several honorary doctorates. For decades he served as a Crow historian, cataloging his people’s nomadic history by collecting firsthand narrative accounts of pre-reservation life from fellow tribal members.

He was also a living link to the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, and was the last person alive to receive direct oral testimony from a participant in the Battle of the Little Bighorn: his grandmother’s brother, White Man Runs Him, a scout for Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

“With his prodigious memory, Medicine Crow could accurately recall decades later the names, dates and exploits from the oral history he was exposed to as a child,” says Herman Viola, Curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American Indians.

In the years leading to his death, Medicine Crow continued to live with his family in Lodge Grass. His wife died in 2009. Even after his hearing and eyesight faded, Medicine Crow continued to lecture into his 90’s on the Battle of Little Bighorn and other major events of Crow history.

“Joe was a true American hero,” says Darren Old Coyote, chairman of the Crow tribe. “He was a great man in two worlds.”

Main image: Delegation of Crow Chiefs Delegation of Important Crow chiefs 1880. From left to right: Old-Crow Medicine Crow, Long-Elk, Plenty-Coups, Pretty-Eagle.

Read more:

The Lakota tribes of the Great Plains

The Battle of Little Big Horn


Calling Globe Trekker Kids

Calling Globe Trekker Kids

You are never too young to hit the road.

Check out this lively little dispatch from Istanbul courtesy of  9 year old Olivia Fanders, filmed and sent to us by her mum, Kelly, on their global tour for Shrek the Musical.

Watch this space for further episodes and check out Kelly’s blog at  

Move over Burj, the Sky Mile Tower is coming to Tokyo

Move over Burj, the Sky Mile Tower is coming to Tokyo

Renderings have been released showing the 5,577 feet-high Sky Mile Tower which will stand in Tokyo Bay with a cluster of islands at its feet, dwarfing everything on the city’s already soaring skyline.

The Sky Mile Tower will be surrounded by an archipelago of islands, forming part of Next Tokyo, a “high density eco-district” designed to “adapt to climate change”. The hexagonallyshaped islands are designed to protect the city from flooding and other waterborne risks including “rising sea levels, seismic and increased typhoon risk”.

It will offer multi-level open-air sky decks at every 320 metres and shared public facilities including shops, restaurants, hotels, libraries, gyms and health clinics.

If the proposed plans are approved, the Sky Mile Tower is expected to be to completed by 2045 and will surpass not only Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, but also  Saudia Arabia’s 3,280 ft-high Jeddah Tower, which is slated for completion in 2020.



main image: A rendering of the Sky Mile Tower in Tokyo Bay Photo: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Lights, Action, London!

Lights, Action, London!

Once again, London displayed its reputation as a city of intrigue and wonder as a cacophany of light beamed across the city.


Over the course of a chilly weekend in January, throngs of visitors  flocked to wander the streets and join the hunt in and around the city’s central spots to seek out luminary gems.


Luminous fish kites hovered above the popular shopping district of Regent Street, gigantic flowers resembling triffids swayed in the gardens of Leicester Square, and a series of mannequins formed by netted structures set in various poses; flying above or seated atop rooftops in St.James, near the Piccadilly Arcade.

lumiere5Elsewhere, blinking match stick men shifted rhythmically towards and away from the crowds, the sonic effects of Elephantastic and her baby elephant swinging in her trunk reverberated through the crowd whilst Westminster Abbey was intricately lit by light that integrated with its structure entitled called ” The Light of the Spirit.”

Lumiere was presented by Artichoke, the production company who brought London to standstill with The Sultan’s Elephant.

Thanks to Neda Dorudi for the images