Out on the Water, Yakatabune Style

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Three Tree Water Breaker

I was fortunate to go out on a traditional yakatabune (Japanese pleasure boat) on Saturday afternoon.  Yakatabunes are long boats that have tatami mats on the inside and people sit down cruise around and have some tasty food.

I had never been on one before Saturday’s outing, and was looking forward to the experience.  Unfortunately, I had caught a bit of a cold and I wasn’t much in the mood for so much revelry.  I just wanted to look out the window and watch the waves.

All of this being said I had a good time and met some interesting people.  I was happy to be able to participate in a bit of traditional Urayasu culture.  Especially interesting to me is the fact that the company’s name is Yoshino, and my own Japanese family’s name is Yoshino too.  Therefore, somewhere back in our lineage we are related to each other.  It is a small world after all.
Yoshinoya Dock, Urayasu
Yakatabune Sashimi

Yakatabune Window View


Autumn Street Side Poetry

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Autumn Poetry

Those changing leaves have finally arrived here in Tokyo just as the snow has finally fallen in the northern Hokaido.  It is the first time in over 100 years that the snow has fallen so late in Japan’s northern most island.

However here in Ichikawa, things are progressing more or less as they should be.  The temperature has taken a plunge over the last day and I am forced to don more and more layers to keep my thinly raised Miami blood warm.

Each step as I walked back to Ichikawa station in the afternoon light, each step seemed to bounce.  The light was warming me up and lit my way through the narrow neighborhood streets.  One neighborhood association posts poetry along the old main road.  I really have no idea what the poetry says but today it spoke to me as the autumn hued vine crept in to frame.

It is the time, the only time, for some autumn poetry.


Purple Skies Over Kasai

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Purple Skies Over Kasai

The rain came.  The rain left.  The cold returned, the wind stayed. The hum of the street lamp glowed in the darkness, as the skies above turned a darker shade of purple.

The neighborhood was quiet, my neighbors gathered around the kotatsu, and the youngest ones laid their heads on small pillows.  I made my way down the glistening streets, looking up at that purple tinged sky.

All just another autumn day in Kasai, my hood.


Plan Beats is Rising Again

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Plan BE Promo 1995

The Plan Beats krew is at it again! After the En Vogue concert in Opa Locka things are popping off for the long time crew.

There is now a website that will be keeping track of the upcoming events that Plan Beats will be rolling out to.

Don’t forget to check out our new website is up www.planbeats.com
a big shout out to  NATTY for hooking it up.
brass king
brass queen
brass prince
choppy blades
and the ever growing lovers of real hip art, real street works.
from the 03 to the 305

Bridging the Dreams

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Bridging the Dreams

There are two lands that are divided by a body of water.  A man stands out on the edge of the land and looks out onto the the land on the other side.  He looks deeply into the blackness of the water.  The water oozes blackness.  He wonders what is there on the other land.  He has never been able to cross the way to the other side.

The man lays his head on a rock and falls into a deep slumber.  Bridges race through his mind.  Bridges constructed by steel, concrete, and labor fill his dreams.  The way to the other dream, the other side, the bridge is the key.

He awakens after his deep sleep.  He breathes in a deeply and stares out across the water.  This time he doesn’t worry, he feels content.  He knows that one day he will find his bridge, and his way of bridging the dreams will come into being.


Floating Corpuscles

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Floating Corpuscles, Rowan Autumn Berries

There is berry that makes itself known as the cold winds begin to blow and the leaves decide to change their hue, the mighty rowan berry, or better still, floating corpuscles.  There color is as intense as if they had been squeezed from a freshly opened tube of paint.

I have seen them in various shades ranging from light orange to a bright cherry red. I have heard that the berries are a bit sour, and bitter, but many in Europe make them into jams.  I am not sure what if anything people here in Japan do with them.

All the signs are there.  They are present if all we do is open our eyes and see the seasons change.  This one is hard to miss because of their floating red corpuscles.


Little Yellow, Fujisan’s Smallest Cousin

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Little Yellow, Fujisan's Smallest Cousin

Let me introduce you to Fujisan’s (富士山) little cousin, the tinniest of yellow ground flowers.  I was sitting down by the bay sipping a cup of coffee and gazing off at the far distance at Mt. Fuji.  It always feels like a special treat to lay my eyes on Mt. Fuji, because it only happens when the atmospheric conditions are perfect. These perfect days most frequently occur in the autumn and winter in the Kanto Plain.

I was on a small grassy slope feeling the suns warmth on my cheeks and just looking at the far horizon.  There stood Mt. Fuji snow capped with a small topping of clouds that were beginning to push over Fujisan’s brow.  That is the moment when I noticed them.  Scattered in the weedy grass was a patch of the tinniest yellow flowers.  Each one couldn’t be bigger than one centimeter (1/4 inch) in diameter.

I have decided to name them Little Yellow, Fujisan’s Smallest Cousins.  It just fits them.  They are as gorgeous and beautiful as majestic Mt. Fuji, yet their scales couldn’t be farther from each other.  I have forever linked them together in my heart, and in my lens.


Sitting, Biking by the Park by the Bay, Tokyo Bay

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Le Jette (The Jetty) Kasai Rinkai Park

The day couldn’t have been a lovelier autumn day.  A day, on the sabbath, was a perfect spending out in the fresh air, strong sunshine, and blasting breeze.  I am fortunate to live right on the edge of Tokyo bay and within walking and biking distance of Kasai Rinkai Park (葛西臨海公園).  A lovely park run by the Tokyo city  government.  It is a great hidden secret and smack in my backyard.

Today the air was so clear I could sit on the edge of the bay and to my right see the snow capped Mt. Fuji, Straight ahead I could imagine seeing all the way to California and to my left to the very tip of the Chiba Peninsula.  I quickly shed my layers of clothing as the sun continued to warm my entire being.

The sunshine penetrated down to my soul.  I could refresh and be one with the Creator’s wonderland.  The park where the sea, greenery and people meet was the perfect to be able to meditate on just being myself.  A reconnecting with the natural world on the edge of the ever growing concrete jungles to my back.

The park was filled with its citizens doing a park cleanup.  Young old families walked the park with metal tongs in one hand and a garbage bag in the other.  It was a beautiful day no mater what you were doing to be out in the park.

They say, it is always they, isn’t it?  That tomorrow and Monday will be damp, cold and rainy, I feel as if I’ve been able to soak up the rays as much as I could before the weather hits.

Sit in the sun, let the sunshine warm the soul, look out to the horizon and wonder.




Costal Japanese Pinetrees, Kasai RInkai Park


Ascending Autumn Sun over Tokyo Bay


Kasai RInkai Salt March with Horie Danchi

UFRA Creative Photography Workshop in Urayasu

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Creative Photography Workshop

UFRA Creative Photography workshop braving the weather in search of photographs. 

On the last Sunday in October I was fortunate to have the opportunity to share some of my love of photography with others.  UFRA,(Urayasu Foreign Residents Association) helped me to organize a three hour workshop to introduce some of my concepts of creative photography to others.  Additionally, all the students fees will be donated to a Myanmar charity that brings clean drinking wells to the countryside.

Despite the cold and the drizzling rain we had a turn out of 10 photography lovers including a Tanabe family of four.  We started off with a brief explanation of some of the basic numbers that you need to improve and understand a bit of the science behind photography.  I introduced them to f-stop (aperture), shutter speed, and film speed.  Stressing that if you understand how setting these numbers affect your photographs then you are on your way to improving your images.

We next went over the idea of rule of thirds.  I know, it is a bit formulaic, but to someone who has never even thought about how to compose an image it helps out.  One needs to learn some of the rules before one can effectively break them with dramatic effects.

I showed them how to use the view finder, and to look and try to see the image changes how they move around the subject.  Changing your perspective, being able to show the world as you see it is one of the most impact on my own photography style.

By the time we went outside there was a steady drizzle.  Honami, a young woman, came without an umbrella so I lent her my green raincoat.  Kazuki had to run down the street to the 100 yen shop to buy a clear vinyl umbrella.  And then we were off to explore a bit of the old part of town in Urayasu, in and around Flower Dori (フラワー通り).

I loved watching them all get their cameras out and start taking pictures.  Every so often one of the students would come up to me and ask me a question, or show me an image they had taken.  It really was warmed my soul to see them to be so enthusiastic about photography.

We walked around the backstreets across the old fishing canal and went into an old fisherman’s house that was built in the late 19th century.  The elderly volunteers were overjoyed to have so many visitors on a rainy day.  After spending some time in the old fisherman’s home we walked over to an old general store that also was built in the late 1800s.  This home even has a beautiful Japanese garden in the back yard.

I felt like I had wound up my student’s creative energy and now like the Energizer Bunny they just went on and on.  There was no stopping!  The weather, problems with their cameras.  They all were determined to go out and try new ways of seeing and using photography as a means of expression.

I stressed to them that the camera is only a tool, it is in the hands of an artist that the creativity happens.  One of my youngest students was only using her parent’s cellphone.  It didn’t matter she was still able to explore the world of photographic image creation.

All in all it was a fabulous day.  It helped to fuse my passion for photography with my passion for teaching.  I need to give a big shout out to Meme, who brought along her husband Hisaki, for helping me through UFRA to organize this workshop.  Also I need to thank the entire Tanabe family!  Also to Honami, and Kazuki too.

I look forward to sharing my love of photography in the future.


Each student was asked to select their favorite picture that are displayed below.  I am so proud of all the work that they did.

















Shoji Flower 障子の花

Jacob, Shoji Flower 障子の花


My Name is Mt. Fuji, or Better Still, Call me Fujisan!

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Mt. Fuji Autumn Glow

Thats right!  You’ve heard what I’ve said!  My name is Mt. Fuji, Fujisan to those in the know.  I am right there hiding over the horizon.  When I feel like it I will come out and play in the golden glow of setting sun.  Most of the time you can’t see me from Tokyo.  I choose to stay hidden, be a bit incognito in the haze. I let the haze blend me right out of the picture.

Today I decided to indulge my self in red, and orange hues. I wanted all those that haven’t seen me for a while to know that I am still here.  You may build a tree like structure that reaches into the sky, but from my height your structures will only be playthings to me.

One day I may grow angry to the point that the molten viscous lava in my soul will erupt with such a fury to wipe out the generations of memories.  I am not feeling that today.  My soul isn’t that troubled.  I will keep anger hidden far under my snow capped peak.

Today I only wanted to come out and play in the light.  I danced as much as a sloping volcanic mountain could sway.  I just wanted to show myself, if only for a few moments, as the sun dissolved into the horizon.


My Minami Kasai Girl with a Handful of Gravel

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

My Lady with a Handful of Gravel

There is a lady in my neighborhood of Minami Kasai that is not of flesh.  She is of sculpted and cast copper.  She is seated with her legs tucked underneath her at the beginning of a small creek. She is surrounded by a bed of well tended flowers.  She waits patiently with outstretched hands.  On some occasions passerby’s, usually the neighborhood’s children, place objects in my lady’s hands.

I have seen her dressed in scarves, and hats places on her head to keep her warm in the winter months.  Today was different.  She had a handful of gravel from the little creek.  Pebbles, stones, laying in between the crevices in her coppered hands.

My sweet Minami Kasai lady, with noting but gravel in her hands.


Finding Autumn in the Depths of Nihonbashi Station

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Yellow Road Leads to Autumn in Nihonbashi Station
In a passage way deep into the depths of Nihonbashi station there are signs that autumn has arrived.  Even if one has to ride a JR line train deep into the countryside to be able to see the luscious colors at the moment.

The leaves will soon be turing in my part of town soon enough.  The weather is much cooler the past few days.  The autumn moon has risen. I await the ginko trees and their yellow as bright as the seeing tiles, and the momoji (Japanese maple) to turn the wine shades as in the picture.

For now I will take this as a positive sign of the lovely hues to come.


Losing my Way in Yanaka as a Way to be Found

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Red Door Yanaka, with Potted Plant Pedestal

The lovely autumn light led my way through the winding backstreets of Yanaka neighborhood in the heart of Tokyo.  Most of the buildings have been around since the war, and some actually survived the war.  The streets are narrow, its residents are elderly, and my heart loves this hood.

It really doesn’t matter if I take a left or a right, or even if I end up walking in circles as I often do, I will end up content and pleases with the wandering and gazing.  All of the homes are kept up with pride, small curbside gardens brighten up the narrow paths.

I started off at Sendagi station, and just started walking, I felt like taking a left I did, or a right.  Like I stated, it really didn’t matter, I made my way though Ueno and finally Okamachi station.  I like it that way.  Not knowing where exactly I am allows me to focus in on the moment.  It is only about me, the area, and my camera.  That is it.  It is really that simple.

Getting lost to find my way, on the backstreets, in the heart of old Tokyo.
Showa Building Lithograph, Yanaka

Yanaka 6-26 with Gate and Bicycle

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