Looking Forward to 2012, Up in the Sky

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

I was thinking about what to write in today’s post, when I realized I was not going to write what I had planed to do.  I was going to go through my images and post up the 10 most important images for me over the past year.  I kind of visual journey thought the ups and downs of 2011.

We, especially in Japan, have been though so much.  Every disaster imaginable has happened to this country and we are still dealing with the after effects of the March 11 triple disasters.  We are still dealing with the daily stress of not knowing what the future holds for our communities.

I thought deeply on this matter.  I even had begun to map out which images I would use in the post.  I have decided to change my focus from the past to the future.  It is important to revaluate one’s life in order to create a better future.  Those that are in tune with their spirit take the time to review their actions, and take steps to redirect our lives to be on the path that we want to travel.  In some cases, the path that we need to travel on.

I have chosen on the end of the Gregorian calendar to look forward.  To put the past behind us, and to forward to the year to come.  To look upwards into the endless skies and see the possibilities for what the future can bring.  To forge ahead down the roads that we need to travel.  To find ourselves in the bluest blues of the universe.

As many revel in the end of the year, I choose to look froward to the next.  Where will my artistic explorations take me?  I do not know, but I am excited about the freedom that lies ahead.

2011 into 2012

Looking Forward from 2011 to 2012

A Japanese Rock Garden Saved from the Bulldozer

Friday, December 30th, 2011

The other day I made my way from the Tokyo side of the Kyoedogawa RIver to the Urayasu side to just wander around in the clear winter air.  I love wandering around the old part of the fisherman town of Urayasu.  The tight alleys and the corrugated metal homes that sit along the river that comes off the main river.

Urayasu for many years was a hub of clam harvesting, fishing, and seaweed gathering.  Urayasu was a town of fisherman.  They were utterly dependent on the sea to provide for them.  Those fisherman days are all but completely over.  There are a few families that make their living from the sea, but most now travel into Tokyo and have company jobs.

I am a bit saddened as Japan looses these pockets of old culture as the mad dash to modernize and compete on the world stage.  As I biked around the neighborhood, I was astonished to see the amount of rebuilding in the old neighborhood.  Everywhere I looked I saw houses being taken down, empty lots being prepped and building going up.  There was so much construction that was dismantling the tight community of Urayasu.

I came upon a large patch of land that had recently been bulldozed and graded relatively flat.  Buried though out the earth were thousands of shells. A reminder of the properties seaside past, or past profession.  They I spotted something unusual next to a cinderblock wall, I spied a Japanese stone lantern, and assorted rocks making up a small zen, meditative garden.  This little patch of tranquility had been sparred the bulldozer, and hopefully will be preserved for the next house that is to come.  It gives me some hope that all might not be lost in the old neighborhood of Urayasu.

Bulldozed Lot with Japanese Lantern and Rock Garden

Stray Kitty in the Parking Lot’s Garden

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

This little kitty was out enjoying the clear winter sunlight the other day, just like me.  The kitten was peeking out at me through the parking lot’s garden.  His/her eyes met my lens, as I pressed the shutter button. I hope that one day he/she will find a home.  Someone out there will take care of this kitten.  However, for now he’ll just continue to take advantage of winter’s sunny skies.

Kitty in The Parking Lot Garden

End of the Line, Chiba Debris-Scape  

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

The day was beautiful out.  The skies were so clear it felt as if I could see clear across the ocean all the way to San Francisco.  It is one of the amazing things about being in Tokyo in the winter time, is that the air becomes so clear that the skies are boundless.  On a day like today I had to just get out on my mountain bike and just pedal around to see what could be seen.  I needed to get out and breathe in the cool dry air, and fill my heart with better tomorrows.

Eventually I made it all the way to the edge of Tokyo bay.  The end of the road in Urayasu, and just gazed off into the curve of Chiba peninsula as it makes its way down to Tateyama.  I could even see bits of Kanegawa that borders on Tokyo, that is just how clear it was.

Now, if only I could make my mind as clear as the skies.  At times it seems like all the clouds flood my brain and heart.  I try hard to stay focused on what really matters in this crazy world.  There is so much nonsense we all have to go through that distracts us from what really matters.  It is times like this that I am so thankful to have family that I can reason with, and for the Creator to watch over us all.

I have faith that tomorrow will be better.  That tomorrow might be far off, but it might not.  I prepare for the worst, and pray for the best.  I know that the path I am on is the right one, and if it isn’t that I will be wise in my choices to keep on the path that I am suppose to be on.

Stare off into the boundless horizon.  Follow those curves.  Breathe deeply and let that brain fog clear away.

Debris Mound Tokyo Bay Sky

Chiba Penninsula Sun

Tobias Asleep, Quiet and Still

Monday, December 26th, 2011

I was happy to spend some time with my close friends on Sunday.  We were riding into Tokyo with their young, almost 3 year old child Tobias, aka Toby.  He is full of energy as young ones go; however, he was out cold on the train ride into the city  He is usually on the prowl with his shark fin hat, but not this time.  So quiet, so peaceful as he slept, the world of Tokyo spun by station by station.

I too, try to see the world through the eyes of a child.  To see things fresh and for the first time, even if I have seen the same thing for the millionth time.  Be childlike, but not childish.  Be young without being naive. We must learn to be comfortable with our selves so that we to can sleep as quietly and soundly as Tobias.

Tobias Asleep

Samm Bennett and his Chance Encounters in Japan

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Samm Bennet is an amazing musician.  He is at home with just about any instrument that can vibrate and be used to make music.  His specialty is as a drummer and a percussionist.  Making those beats, to soothe our souls.  Drumming is a mimmic of the human heartbeat.  Boom, boom, it goes on and on, telling the world that we are alive.  We are full of life.

Many of you may not know this but Samm is an amazing photographer too.  I actually knew him first through his eclectic images of his wanderings in Tokyo through his Flickr stream Flapjax at Midnight.  I really dug his way of seeing the Japanese world.  His eye to pick out the ordinary beautiful urbansacpes of Tokyo attracted me to his work.  I didn’t come across images of temples and shrines, i came across Nobori (advertising flags)  and Humans melding into an image of chance encounters.  Or there were amazing details of architecture that were landscapes in the macro details.

We decided to meet up and check out an area neither of us had photographed before in Sugamo.  Sugamo is famous for the elderly crowd to get their red power inner garments. I first met Samm a few years back because of Flickr.  It was a great time wandering around and watch each others photographic styles in action.

I really want to focus in on Samm’s Chance Encounters ongoing series as of this posting includes 421 photographs.  These are images that he has framed between the inhabitants of Japan and their advertisements, posters, and two-dimensional art.  He has created a visual language of how we react, or do not react to the environment that we are in.  Conversations (lucid ones) occur in these images, and at other times the two-dimensional humans are ignored by the flesh one.  I has so impressed with this series that I was inspired to create a few Chance Encounters of my own, as an homage to Samm’s style.

I got a chance to talk to Samm Bennett about his photography the other day.  His replies can be found below.

Please take a minute and introduce yourself to Lucid Communication.

My name is Samm Bennett: I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, and have lived in Boston, Massachusetts, New York, NY and, since 1995, in Tokyo, Japan. I am a musician (singer and songwriter, drummer, percussionist, and player of certain idiosyncratic string instruments like the stick dulcimer and the diddley bow, as well as jaw harp and mouth bow). I am also an avid photographer.

(Author’s note, Samm is a very avid photographer.  He is constantly uploading images to his flickr stream.  Samm has such vitality as an artist)

Where do you like best to take pictures?

I take pictures pretty much anywhere and everywhere: from macros of weathered tape affixed to telephone poles to street scenes to walls to shadows to reflections to objects… to what I call “chance encounters.”

Tell me a little about your chance encounter images?

I spend a lot of time riding the Tokyo rails, going to my various jobs and gigs, and I’m in a great variety of different train stations all around the greater Tokyo area. The stations are a world of advertisements: there are ads everywhere, and many of them rather large ones, like billboards. I began to be intrigued by how actual living, breathing humans, waiting on trains or moving through the stations, interact with the human representations in the advertisements. The two-dimensional humans that are forever trying to sell something to the three dimensional humans: they are like two different species, yet they somehow complete each other. Even though they are in fact essentially oblivious to each other’s existence! I document the way these species coexist: how they complement or battle or challenge or ignore one another. These interactions are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes touching, sometimes banal. An epic drama, played out daily, over and over again, by millions of souls across the vast network of the Tokyo rail system.

Do you see a connection between your music and your photography?

Not any glaringly overt one, but there is a connection. I’m just not entirely sure of how to put it into words!

(Author’s note:  the connection that I see is pacing and rhythm to Samm’s photographs.  In addition, Samm often posts multiple images that are slightly varied from each other that generate patterns, and variations on a theme, much in the same style of jazz riffs.  Samm also will post before and after like images, of humans passing through a space.  This is using the medium of photography to be a story teller, and to create a timeline to his images.)

What are you trying to communicate to the viewers of your images?

This varies widely, depending on the type of photo we’re talking about, because I actually produce a pretty big variety of images, and these have varying objectives. But if I had to define some sort of overall intent, I’d say that I hope to introduce to the viewer something that is in some small way “fantastic”. And I mean the “fantastic” that resides in the “mundane.”

(Author’s note:  there is such beauty in the unseen mundane beauty in the world.  I believe this is the reason that Samm and I get along so well, because we view the world through similar shaded lenses.)

What is your internet presence? ( we can see your music, works, videos, anything you want to share with us)

Polarity Records



Samm is a prolific photographer, and narrowing down some images to share with the Lucid Communication has been a difficult fast.  I do ask that you check back in with Samm now and then to see what new images pop up on his Flickr stream, and if you are ever in the Tokyo area, make sure you pop in on Samm playing live somewhere in the crazy nights of Tokyo.

he'll eat you next...

multiple personalities

for me? thanks!

his three girlfriends

under my thumb

our eyes met, as the train whisked you away

fresh victim

don't go disrespecting Tommy Lee_2

all the above images are copyrighted Samm Bennett 2011, with permission to post.

My homage to Samm Bennett’s Chance Encounters

Double O's


Japandemic and the Drying Persimmon Garden

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

I came across one of Japandemic’s images in Flickr the other day that just struck me like a thunderbolt.  Japanandemic describes themselves as “smart sexy cool japan what the other guys won’t show you…in bite-size bits, like sushi.”  I like that.  There website is a fresh mash up of the cool, the weird and the beautiful of all things Japan, and Japanese.  Japandemic is based in Kyoto and Osaka in the Kansai area of Honshu.

Japandemic has a way of showing you another side of Japan.  The part of Japan that you might just walk past if you are not looking with an open mind and heart.  They have a great sense of humor and their site should be looked at by anyone who is interested in Japanese culture.

The image that struck me was one of theirs that had been taken in Kyoto.  There are strings of drying kaki (persimmon) hanging in front of a persons home.  And what really drew me into the image was it included a super tight garden.  It was one of those gardens that I have been photographing in Japan recently.  A garden in such a tiny space, yet it was bursting with life.  All and all it is a beautiful images and I am thankful to Japandemic for allowing me to post this beautiful image in Lucid Thoughts.

Please take the time to browse their Flickr page and the Japandemic website.

Enjoy this amazing Japandemic Image.
kaki (persimmon) hanging to dry in front a Kyoto house.

kaki (persimmon) hanging to dry in front a Kyoto house. Copyright Japandemic 2011

Winter Weeds in Ichikawa

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Winter is here with a vengeance.  Even though as I type this blog, my window is slightly ajar to let in some fresh air and that amazing yellow light.  I know the light will not last to much longer as the days are short.  The cold air comes quickly and I will be bundled up and headed for my homemade kotatsu (heated table).

These weeds on the concrete embankment of a small river is Ichikawa caught my eye the other day.  Their roots had managed to edge themselves into the cracks in the cement and had been able to grow strong and powerful.  They were reaching for that winter sunlight that makes me marvel.  They are survivors.  They have managed to eek out an existence in the inhospitable of places.  Actually they aren’t really struggling, they are thriving in this urban environment.

To be a weed.  To grow strong in the sunshine and make its home where ever its seed shall land.

Winter Weed, Riverside, Ichikawa

Shabbat Dinner Full Life

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Shabbat is the time to rest and separate oneself from the worldly world and refocus our energies, thoughts, and hearts towards the Creator.  I like to begin my meditation by cooking the shabbat meal.  When I am working I do not have much time to labor in the kitchen; however, this Friday I and most of Japan had the day off for the emperor’s birthday.  I decided to cook up a feast for dinner.

My friend had brought in a spice box that his family had sent him from the Boston area.  It smelled so fresh, strongly scented with sage and oregano.  The product is called Bell’s Seasoning, and it came in a box that the design probably hasn’t changed for 60 years.  After smelling these herbs I had an urge to make stuffing from scratch.  This was one of the the components of my meal.  I also roasted up some chicken with a red wine and pomegranate reduction sauce, with some garlic potatoes and turnips.

I wanted to welcome the shabbat the best way I could by creating and beginning my meditations with the food to be eaten slowly and enjoyed with my family.

I have begun to become interested in the still life genre, mainly because of my friend E. John  Walford’s images.  His still-lifes has stirred in me a desire to return to s classic genre style as a further exploration on my photography.  This one is not still, it is FULL of life.

Shabbat Shalom

May you all have a peaceful and restful day.

Shabbat Dinner Full Life

Sun Must Set so that the Sun May Rise

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

On the pre winter solstice day I watched the sun slink slowly towards the horizon.  All day the sun refused to shine, but at the last hours of sunlight it made an appearance far off on the edge of the earth. I began to think about what a rough year this has been for myself, for Japan, and in fact for the entire world.  Japan has experienced every disaster imaginable:  earthquakes, tsunami, typhoon, mud slides, torrential rainfall, nuclear disaster, power shortages, and now there are record breaking snowfalls.  All in all a very rough year.  These thoughts were all going through my mind as my train was passing over the Kyo-Edogawa river looking out over Tokyo Bay.

This I know.  The sun was going down, on the last few days left of the year.  I have no idea what the future may hold.  I have no idea if things will get worse before they get better.  What I do know is that sometimes things must come to an end.  And by coming to an end and this can allow for something to take its place.

So, the sun sets.  The sun will rise again.  We will live in cold and darkness, but this is only temporary.

Statified Sunset, Pre Solstice

Dreaming of Zion while Exiled in Babylon (Christmas in Japan)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I try to keep these writings as positive as possible because to live negatively just induces more stress.  However, there are some issues that I need to address in this post.  I hope you will indulge me for a moment.  There is a madness to my method.  I promise.

These are some crazy times we are all living in.  Sometimes I feel like I have been hauled away in captivity to Babylon.  I am truly a stranger in a strange land.  I am surrounded by the ultra consumerism of Christmas in Japan.  It is so devoid of any real emotion that it makes me feel ill.  I have no problem with people wanting to celebrate a holiday, but here it makes absolutely no sense.  I ride the trains and women clutch bags of presents, with brightly colored packaging.  The shelves are lined with the Christmas boots that parents will give their children on Christmas day.  I am at a moment where I don’t think I can take it any longer.

I have tried to address the issue with fellow Japanese how strange it is to celebrate a holiday that you know just about nothing about.  I have compared it to how would the Japanese feel if Americans suddenly adopted the Obon holiday because it looked cool.  And most cannot make the connection that by doing so is ultimately strange.

Growing up Jewish in America was always strange around this time of year, but here in Japan it ups that emotional to a whole other level that can only be expressed in the images that I have selected to accompany today’s blog posting.  It is assumed by most I encounter that I am Christian, and that I celebrate Christmas.  I have to school people I come in contact with that NOT all Americans are Christians, and not all Americans celebrate Christmas (even if you might be Christian).  This is difficult for many to comprehend.

That is why today’s post is titled, Dreaming of Zion, While Exiled in Babylon.

I hope you forgive me for going off a little bit today, but I do feel so much better for doing so.

I do not mean to offend anyone by this, I am just expressing some bottled up emotions in a positive and constructive manner.  I levitate this post to all Jews, Christians, and Muslims trying to make sense of this time of year in Japan. Peace to all!

Dwelling 02 (Dreaming of Zion)

Dwelling 02 (Dreaming of Zion)

Dwelling 01 (Exiled in Babylon)

Dwelling 01 (Exiled in Babylon)

Even the Little Ones are Trying to Keep Warm

Monday, December 19th, 2011

I know I have Miami blood.  I can get used to the cold weather here, even if that weather is never that cold, but I don’t really love the weather in the winter time.  I dress fro it.  Wrap my neck in a scarf, pull gloves over my fingers, and double up on socks.  It helps, but I still feel cold.

I spotted this little one the other day as I was walking through a quiet Chiba neighborhood.  Still amazed at how many flowers are actually in bloom, considering it is just about the end of December.  Here she was rolling its tint petals in on themselves trying to keep warm just like me.  Turning its head towards the sunshine to keep all of its petals warm, just as I love it as I ride the train and the sunlight flickers as we zoom past the concrete shapes of Tokyo.

Just being myself, trying to keep warm.  Bundle up everyone.

Folding Petals, Keeping Warm

Geometric Homecoming in Chiba

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

I love geometry.  Now you might think that to be a little crazy.  Even if you are thinking about the geometry that we all have to study in school, but honestly out of all the math that I studied in school geometry was the only one that made any sense to me.  My reasoning behind that is I am without any doubt am a visual person.  I think visually.  I approach the world and how I relate back to the world though how I visually experience the world.  Now, I would never really go back and study geometry again.  I’m pretty sure the boat has sailed on that part of my life, but the lines, tangents, and bisecting lines have become part of my visual vocabulary.

The cubists did it the best.  They oversimplified the world that they were apart of into line, shapes, and tone.  A world that is visually experienced through shapes.  I have learned to see the world very mush though these same lenses.  I cannot help but look out into Tokyo, where I live, and see the world sometimes reduced to nothing more than lines and cubes.  I, however, know in my heart that the world is far more complicated than that.  There are shapes that cannot so easy be reduced to just a square.  The natural world, even though, it is full of repeating fractal patterns they are never quite as straight as a line of hewn stone.

This is where my lens comes in to help me navigate my way through the visual world.  Trying to bridge the two ways to seeing the world together.  That world of the straight hard edge lines that follow the rules of geometry and composition.  Then there are the rulers of the plant and natural kingdom.  The ways in which a branch grows divides and multiplies as it reached out to the sun.  I am a part of both worlds.  My physical form comes from nature.  There are now straight lines to be found on my person.  Yet I love to see a rectangular door, meeting a window at just the right moment in space and forming can conforming to our geometric rules.

The door in todays group of images is a geometric homecoming.  There are no plants visible.  There is only the hint of the natural world by the shadows that are being cast on the image.  A piece of my inner mind has left its imprint on this image.

Welcome home.  Welcome to lucid communication with myself.

Split Shadow Geometic Homecoming

Trio One Life, Potted Garden

Keeping it Geometrically Shady

Winter is Alive with Citrus

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

I am not sure why I used to thing the whole natural world dies off in winter time.  I guess it was because i assumed it just got to cold for flowers to bloom or for fruit to ripen on the its branches.  It is probably just because I didn’t take the time to pause and to really observe the natural world around me.

Living in the urban jungle of modern day Japan I loose myself in the concrete and steel of its man-made structures. All the twist and turns of the human created environment my eye had become trapped.  It wasn’t until experiencing the after effects of the March 11th disasters that my eye had refocused to see the natural world around me.  Even if that natural whorl is confined to tiny roadside gardens and terra-cotta pots, the natural world is right there in front of my lens, if I choose to look for it.

This brings me too the bounty being spotted in the cold winter air.  I have come across trees that are just bursting with winter citrus.  Yuzu trees, an asian citrus used in seasoning, are ripe and bright yellow among the home gardens out in the suburbs of Chiba Prefecture.  They are all plump and ready for the picking.

Open your heart and eyes to the changing seasons.  Enjoy the bounty that we are blessed with even during the chilly winter  month.  Peel open a nice juicy citrus and get some of that vital vitamins and minerals.

Boutiful Citrus Tree, Chiba, Japan

Yuzu (유자, ゆず,  柚子) Citrus Ripening on Tree, Chiba, Japan

Double Lucid Communication Pasting

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

I wasn’t sure where I was going to post this blog posting, but in the end I decided to put it in the Lucid Thoughts category.  The story goes a little something like this.  A few days ago I get a slew of comments on my Lucid Communications website.  It was great to see that someone combed though my images and picked out sever blog postings to comment on.  This was soon followed up by an email from the photoblogger Harold Maison, over at Black Man in Japan photoblog.  A another expat american photographer, like myself, only he is based in the Shibuya area of Tokyo.

We exchanged some emails back and forth and finally emailed me asking if I by any chance had done some posters.  He attached a an image of Double Lucid Communication wheat pasting posters that he had photographed in Shibuya a few years back.  I was amazed!  Those posters were some that Lucid Communications had put out in Tokyo going on just about 5 years ago.  It was such a synchronous moment.  Here I was doing by blog.  Putting my work into the sometimes endless black holes of cyberspace where Harold comes along and finds my blog.  Not only did he find my blog, but it turns out that he had photographed some of my street art work from years ago.

This illustrates the power that photography has over us.  It was the ability to create communication.  Which is the reason this site is called Lucid Communication and NOT Jacob Schere’s Photography.  Because the process of photography is about interaction.   On one level it is how humans create and communicate with other over space and time through images.  It is important how Harold captured a moment in history that is no more.  That moment only exist in the pixels of his camera’s image.  These pixels had the ability to transverse time and space and connect two expats in Tokyo.  To me that is absolutely astounding.

These are the reasons that I keep on doing what I do.  These are life’s chances that present themselves to us at seemingly random moments in our life.  Make the connections.  Engage each other in that Lucid Communication.

Please take a moment and browse through the website Black Man in Japan.  See Tokyo through Harold’s eyes.

Double Lucid Communication Lens Hand, Street Art, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

photo courtesy of Harold Maison, of BlackmaninJapan.com photoblog

In case you missed them a few years back, a few other lucid communication, pastings in Tokyo

Wheat Pasting m2c, Spotted in Tokyo, Japan

m2c poster pasting 22


mira m2c 04, wheat pasting posters

Wheat Pasting Tokyo

Copyright 2007© m2c LucidCommunication - Jacob Schere