The Parfait

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Mira Oister and the Ice Cream Parfait

I had the chance to meet up with my mate for a minute this afternoon.  He has taken up Judo in Japan and I passed on my old heavy dogi (marital arts uniform) to him.  I love meeting up with him.  He always has the best stories to tell.  He is a natural modern day urban griot.

I kind of feel like the stories are a form of payment, and entertainment for me.  I am by my nature an observer and listener, so we compliment each other well.

I first met up with him about 5 years ago when we did some wheat pasting together in Tokyo.  There was nothing quite like running around the streets of Tokyo with a steaming hot bucket of homemade glue to help cement a friendship.  He went back to the UK not to long after that, but we keep in touch thanks to the wonders of the Internet.

He devoured a plate of meat sauce spaghetti, glass after glass of Coca Cola, and finished it up with an enormous ice cream parfait.  In typical Japanese style it included a pudding, cereal, brownie, and topped off with a heaping of whipped cream and fresh sprig of mint.  He explained that he has been craving calories and gave in to the pleasure of eating some cheap eats at the family restaurant Gusto.

He was sporting a fresh vintage Adidas jacket.  When I asked him about it he told me it was a jacket that his father had handed down to him.  I would never could imagine him buying something like that, but getting it handed down is much more special.  He has got a fresh style without being trendy.  He just is what he is.

I always have a good time and I look forward to our next adventure and letting him spin some urban tales.

Time Light Place and the Moment

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

January Winter Shadow Love


Another day, another moment to be thankful for my improving health.  I was able to venture outdoors again.  The sunshine felt amazing as I moved out from the shadows.

The skies were absolutely cloudless in the crispy January air  There are even dirty mounds of ice that has survived the two weeks since the blizzard hit Tokyo.  In my more than 10 years here in Tokyo, I have never seen snow of any amount survive this long.  The natural world even in this urban landscape never ceases to make my soul fill with wonder.

Just cycling along observing the world around me is what I do, and as far back as I can remember it is what I always have done.  The thrill of observing the world has always been there for me.

Being there, at the right time, in the right place, with that light makes all the difference.  It is the chance to be at one with the moment.  You can’t force that moment, you just have to let it happen, and flow through you.


Winter Sunshine at its Finest

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Canal Side Weed Glow, UrayasuI

I’d like to consider this my therapeutic post.  I haven’t been able to venture out in nearly two weeks.  I was confined to my home recuperating.  I was getting a bit stir crazy that I seriously considered taking photographs of my blankets, in an homage to Monet who late in his years painted only his garden.

My health was feeling much better and the sunshine allowed me to be out for a bit.  It was still a tad cold for my taste but the skies were perfectly clear.

I look forward to being out in the sunshine in the coming weeks.  It felt right being in the sun’s rays with a camera in hand, and wheels under my feet.



Its a Snowy Day in the Neighborhood, Minami Kasai Tokyo

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Minami Kasai Tokyo, Playground in Snow

The forecast originally called for only rain, but that quickly turned to sleet, and within 1o minutes of the sleet it was just snow.  This was around 11:30 am.  It still hasn’t stopped yet.

This Miami raised boy had to do something that he had never done before.  I shoveled snow with a short spade.  It is not an experience that I would like to repeat anytime soon.

I needed something from the grocery store, so I put on the snow boots that I get to wear once a season, my waterproof jacket and headed towards my local Seiyu supermarket.  The Snow I had shoveled 2 hours earlier had been replaced with more freshly fallen snow.  The streets were relatively quite except for the occasional rumbling of a car or bus with snow chains on.

Luckily for the children today was a holiday and many of them were out in the streets throwing snowballs, sledding, and making yuki daruma (snowman).

The wind had really begun to pick up and the snowflakes.  The wind was striking my in the eyes and some managed a sneak attack and hit me square in my eyeball.

Tokyo does not get a lot of snow, and the amount we are getting today is going to be enough to shut down trains and services.  I will keep all out there in the streets in my heart that you may travel home safely.

Bundle up Tokyo!  Its only going to get colder.

Today’s post is livicated to my father on his 70th birthday.  I love you dad!
Minami Kasai Tokyo, My Street in Snow

Return of Ice Fungus in 2013

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Ice Needle Mushroom, Narashino

I know its going to be a cold one when I step out my front door at 7 a.m. and my cheeks sting.  It is the kind of weather no matter how many strategically layered clothes I don in the morning I know I am just going to be cold.  As I was stepping out onto the street this Friday, it was one of those days.  The wind was blowing, and my cheeks were telling me be ready for the coldest day thus far this winter.

I kept my eyes peeled for the ice fungus on the way to the bus stop, but I didn’t spot any.  I spotted some signs that there may have been some a few days ago, but there wasn’t any as I fidgeted about waiting for my bus to come.  Stepping on to a warm bus feels so good on this winter days.  Japanese busses and trains have large box heaters under the seats, on a day like today I sought out a seat that would keep my feet toasty.

I transferred to the Tozai subway line and the subway trip was uneventful.  At this early hour and lack of sleep the previous night I drift in and out of my dreamworld.  Opening my eyes from time to time to see Chiba suburbs blur.  My eyes tire and they quickly fall shut.

Stepping off the train at Tsudanuma, I knew it was a little colder here than when I had left Kasai.  Not by much, but enough to make a difference.  I again paced in place as bus after bus arrived that weren’t for me.  At last I was able to catch the bus and plunk myself down on a warm seat.

This bus on Friday is always packed with Toho Junior High School students.  The noise is unbelievable.  So much yapping, gapping, gaming, and just plain annoying leveled frequencies.  I pull my fully hat over my ears, shut my eyes and allow my mind to just wander.

I get off at the end of the line.  The bus drops us off, circles around, and then makes the same route back to the station.  The air was brisk, and I immediately search the ground with my eyes.  I see the tell tale signs of the return of the ice fungus aka ice needles.  Tiny clumps of earth have broken from the ground and pushed up towards the cloudless skies.  They all shined in the early morning light.

My flesh may have been cold from the winds blowing in from Siberia, but my soul was warmed by the return of the ice fungus.  I was reminded that my friend, Akiko said when she was a little girl and she and her friends would love to hear the crunching sound of the ice fungus under their boots.  I am sure if was young it would have been a lot like popping bubble wrap, once you start you just can’t stop.

I don’t care what people thing about this seemingly crazy foreigner on his hands and knees taking pictures of dirt.  I am sure all artist out there know what it is like to be in the zone, and doing whatever it takes to get creation that you want.  I just block it out.  In fact, I don’t even think about it anymore.

I am joyous in the fact that the ice fungus have decided to bless my day.  Their shining threads awaken my cold soul.  The icy cold has a way of giving me warmth in my heart.

I wish all a pleasant, restful, and meditative day of rest.

Shalom from Kasai, with warming ice fungus in my soul.


Ice Fungus in Morning Light


The Tip of the Ice Needle, Ice Fungi, Narashino

Miami Dreaming on Such a Winter’s Day

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Miami Dreaming in Kasai

Making my way home the pink clouds caught my eye.  I shouldn’t complain about the mercury dipping.  It isn’t as cold as places on this planet, but for this boy born and raised in Miami, I was quite cold.

There they stood.  They beckoned me for a stare.  They were completely in the shadows compared with the pink and blue skies draping down over Tokyo Bay.  The majestic palm trees soared in to the chilly air.  They were relatively motionless as if they too were dreaming of the white sands of Florida.

A pleasant sign of better days to come.

Knowing the Place

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Place, Placing, Placed Pebble

I took a long pause over the New Year’s holiday.  I needed some time to just be.  No blogging, shooting, not really much of anything.  In some ways the New Year marker seems artificial.  One day the year is 2012, and the next it is 2013.  What does it really mean to me as an individual?

I do not feel the need to celebrate the changing of the Gregorian calendar like I used to.  In Japan the new year is a time for first cleaning, then celebration, feasting, and finally being with your family.  I struggle with fitting into the Japanese celebrations, but the last few years it hasn’t worked out so well.  It could be that my peoples new year does not happen until the spring.

I want to know where to place myself within the context of culture and land where I live.  Wherever I have lived I never have felt completely at home.  I have always felt as a traveling outsider.  Sometimes I wish I could be like a stone, placed, knowing that it is only a stone.  Millions of years of history are within its rough hewed edges.  It just is, and that is all.


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