Standing Solo in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I am definitely on a learning to survive so that the next stage one can thrive these days.  And on this day of rest my thoughts return to the natural world.  Nature has a way of coping with pretty much anything that it encounters.

In the dead of winter, a succulent has the ability to keep on growing.  Lifting up its fleshy leaves up to the warm sunshine.  Not only are they reaching up, but this one was sending out new shoots.

New life is sprouting forth in the middle of winter in the deepest backwater suburbs of Ichikawa, just east of the sprawl of the Tokyo metropolis.

We all got to find our ways to thrive in adverse environments.  My way and your way most likely will not be the same.  But, we will find our style of thriving!

Solo WInter Succlulent

There is Fruit at the End of the Path

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The cold winds have been blowing in the Tokyo area.  I myself haven’t seen any snow yet, but others have told me they have spotted some.  I have to don a pair of gloves to go shooting now.  That isn’t so bad, except my fluffily gloves keeping getting stuck on the velcro of my camera case.  I need to switch over to the neoprene gloves that I also use in the winter time.

This all being said that I was wandering down a street in Ichikawa, Chiba the other day when I spotted a small path that I had missed the other 100s of times I had walked down this path.  I felt an urge deep down in my soul to follow this little side path.  It wasn’t very long, only 20 or so meters when the path ended at a metallic gate, that was framed in by a tree full of some winter citrus.

It just made me realize that even a short journey could be fruitful. And then there are other journeys where you seem to get nowhere, and one never really knows which one in life will come your way.  Follow those paths and find your fruit.

7-21 Gate with Winter Citrus

Firehouse Takeout Mozzarella and Mushroom Burger

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

This post in Lucid Thoughts will be my first that doesn’t explicitly cover something in the photographic world.  In fact this just fall into the category of something that I am just crazy about, and I wish all could get a chance to try one.

I am not a big burger fan, but I do enjoy a good burger.  In fact I never really cared much for a burger until my brother-in-law found Firehouse burgers written up in a magazine, and brought them home about 7 years ago.  Firehouse forever changed my mind about what a burger should be.

The first time they came home 7 years ago, they were packaged in these ultra nostalgic white paperboard boxes.  The name Firehouse had been stamped by hand along with a check off list of what treasures laid inside.

From the look alone I was amazingly impressed.  Then once I got my first bite I was hooked.  I have been to their shop in Hongo 3 Chomei many times, and on rare and special occasions my wife picks some up as takeout.  Firehouse always makes it onto the best burger lists in Tokyo and usually the owners of new restaurants often had learned the ropes by having worked  there.

The owner never really seeks the limelight, and nowadays there is so much competition in the burger market.  Firehouse can lay claim as being one of the first and the best.

This was one of those  occasions.  Their takeout boxes have changed to a more custom red box that I suppose is to remind the customer of hot red fire engines.  I preferred the more nostalgic white boxes, but the treat that awaited me on the inside was as good as ever.

The combination of the grilled mushrooms mozzarella, 100% beef and the homemade buns really hit the spot on a winter evening.  The amazing burger was joined by a side of fries and onion rings that the wife and I split.  To be honest I loved it, even if  I don’t really want to eat burger all the time.  For special comfort food occasions, Firehouse is the best.

For those of you in Tokyo and have never been check them out.  And for those of you who are on your way, If you get tired of Japanese food, try the best burger I’ve ever had, in Japan or America.

Firehouse stop by!

Firehouse Take Out Burger, Best in Tokyo

Lost Smile Found

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

This lost and found object really caught my eye today.  I haven’t taken many of the lost and found images over that last nine months or so as I have been exploring other subjects.  This little caught me by surprise.  He was just there.  Perched on the edge of a high brick wall in Ichikawa.  He was laying on his side, with a house key attached to him.  Even though he was lost, on his side and out and the cold, he still managed to smile.  His smiling made me smile.  Because of these chain reaction of events I knew I needed to take his portrait.

We need to never loose our sense of humor.  The unique human quality to laugh and refresh ourselves though our laughter.  I needed a good laugh today.  And this little guy gave it to me.  Even though he is made of plastic, he does not have a plastic smile to me.  His smile was genuine.  His smile was from the heart.

Laugh and smile.

Lost Smile Found

Being a Survivor

Monday, January 9th, 2012

It is sometimes hard to view myself as a survivor, but being part of life is a struggle.  Being able to maintain, strive and hopefully thrive is surviving.  I may have not have gone through some of what life’s more terrible dishing outs, but that doesn’t mean that our own personal troubles are any less real to us.

I think of this flower here on the edge of Tokyo bay.  It has somehow manages to wiggle its roots between the cracks in the concrete.  Not only was it able to get its roots in where there is no soil, but it has managed to be whipped by the winds, battered by the storms, and somehow bloomed in the middle of winter.  Now that is what I call a survivor.  If this weed can do it, so can we all.

First step survive, second step, learn to thrive.

Bayside Survivor: a Weeded Beauty

4 p.m. Bayside Kick in the Proverbial Ass

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

I have been a bit in a deep funk.  It is hard to describe it other than that producing work, and thinking clearly.  It took talking to my childhood friend Jerry Kolber to snap me out of the funk, and to start the process of lifting that brain cloud that settled over my spirit.  We do need people around us to tell us like it is.  Sometimes they will tell us what we don’t want to hear, but things we need to hear.  That is what Jerry did for me.  He gave me the proverbial “kick in the ass.”

My mindset this morning was so different than the last couple of weeks.  I was clearer in thought.  I had some guidance in what I wanted to accomplish today.  I sat down and wrote up some questions for an upcoming Lucid Thoughts post.  Did some emails, caught up on some tasks that needed doing.

I knew that I needed to get outside and do some photography.  Darkness comes so early these days, so I knew I wanted to head out to the bay at the time the sun would start to dip towards the horizon.  I live only minutes away from Tokyo Bay.  In fact I am in walking/biking distance from Kasai Rinkai Bayside Park.

Ever since growing up in Miami, I have always lived near the water.  The water is calming for me.  Therefore, today I walked down to the edge of Tokyo, and could look off out into the bay.  I could see all the way to Tateyama in Chiba. I watched the airplanes far off in the distance taking off from Haneda.  I also watched the sun hit the fishing boats as they headed back to Urayasu.  Some of the boats even carry the same name as my wife’s family, Yoshino, no connection but shows my family’s long time roots in this area.

It was quiet.  I was there just watching the sun go down, listening to the waves, hit the rocks.  Peeping the lonely fisherman casting their lines out into the waters.  It had been so long since I had gone out into my own neighborhood, sat down on the rocks and just soaked the ambience in.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of the cleaning out of my mental funk.  I pray that things keep progressing from here, and that I may be able to help myself, and help others in the process.  We all need that proverbial kick in the ass.  Mine happened at 4 o’clock in the p.m. at the edge of Tokyo Bay.

4 p.m. Kasai Rinkai Park, Tokyo Bay, Sunset

Bridge to My Dreams, Tokyo Version

Sunday with Palms, and Stones, Tokyo Bay

Sun Sets, the Moon Rises

Shadow Self in the Neighborhood

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

The sun was out.  There air is as crisp as it get in a Tokyo winter, and I went out for a pedal powered stroll.  The neighborhood has seemed so quiet since the new year, and before the schools start up again.  I stopped on a bridge to just look over the place that I call home.

I think of myself as a shadow that just blends into the surroundings, even though in reality, I stick out like the 6ft gaijin I am.  Which is the true version?  I am not sure.  I just wanted to pause and look over the streets where I step in Minami Kasai, in Edogawa ward of Tokyo, Japan.

Shadow Self Overlooking Minami Kasai Tokyo, My Neighborhood

Thinking About the Big Picture in 2012

Friday, January 6th, 2012

I should rephrase that to read “trying to think about the bib picture in 2012.”  It hasn’t been easy.  I seem to be stuck in self created limbo.  It has been hard to move out of this limbo.  Sometimes I wish I could be apathetic and not care about the world, or myself.  I think that it would be easier to live my own life.  However, I know that this really would not create any change.  To ignore my own feelings and connection to the world would be to relinquish the will to live.  There are already to many people out there that have given up all hope.  They no longer care about if they seek after truth.

Sometimes, seeking after the truth you will discover issues about yourself that you don’t like.  You can find issues that you don’t want to be involved in.  But, this is life.  Life is how we choose to take these struggles and help ourselves, and communities to become better.

Even though I might be in a rut, I know that I will not be there for long.  I will keep on attempting to find the solution until I do.  What else am I going to do?  Give up?  Nah, I don’t think that would make anything better.  That would only be adding petrol to a burning building.

I will continue to search out the big picture in 2012.  I think that is one reason I have been attracted to landscape images for the past few weeks.  I can’t see the details right now, I am searching for the whole shebang!  Step back and trying to take it all in.

Wired Park 2012 and Beyond

Arbitrary Line in Time

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The clock moved from one year to the next.  I am not sure what it really means.  If we think in geological time there is no difference between 2011 and 2012.  There is not much to the change other than our calendars we use to tick off the time.  This line has been drawn.

The Japanese used to celebrate the new year according to the phases of the moon, but in the Meiji period they decided to follow the Gregorian calendar.  Why?  Did they want to be more like the west, or less like the other asian nations?

It is just a point we use to attempt changes in our lives. In that respect it is a positive, however, we should be striving for these changes for frequently.  The process of observation, reflection, and change should be ongoing, and not decided by a date on the wall.

Look out into the known unknown and see what there is to be seen.

Forward Out to Bay

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