Tokyo Time Machine Revisited

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Trio of Seagulls, Tokyo Time Machine Revisted


Sometimes I return to where I had photographed before.  It may be for the challenge of finding something interesting in a place I have often visited.  This time I wanted to see how much the area had deteriorated since I had last photographed along the wall.

My first visit to the small industrial island that lays in the river between Kasai and Urayasu was for a multi sensory project for DONT Magazine six years ago.  It has been one of the most expressive experiences with a web based magazine.  I was interviewed, and DONT mashed up the interview and put it with a slide show of the images.

I have passed near the island for years, and I have kept wondering what has happened to those crumbling images.  Today in the bright and shinning sun I decided to go over and check them out.

Some of the images had complete crumbled into nothingness.  Some were still there but struggling to adhere to the wall.  While  I was taking the pics an elderly guard man with a grill of missing teeth came over to me and asked me what I was doing.  I told him plainly, “I am taking pictures.”  “Of what?” I pointed at the pictures on the wall and just shrugged his shoulders like I was a completely crazed foreigner for wanting to take pictures of a wall.  He then told me it was dangerous and I shouldn’t be doing any crazy business.

I finished up my pictures and left.

Sometimes I need to return to somewhere I have been in order to know where I need to go.  Lives change, cameras are swapped out, and my vision as an artist continues to grow.


Two Children, Tokyo Time Machine Revisted

One Boy, One Shadow, Tokyo Time Machine Revisted

Giza Feline Chillin in the Afternoon Sun

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Stylish Ginza Cat with a Two VInyl Umbrella Home

This kitty is feline Ginza royalty.  His domain included two see-through vinyl umbrellas that keep the rainy season downpours off his black and white fur.  There he sat on top of a simple box covered with some comfy material.  He was comfortably situated between an urban relic of a wall and a vinyl covered chain link fence.

This one rules the backstreets of Ginza.  Never bothered by the meandering tipsy businessmen or the fashion conscience women.  None of it matters to him.

“Just give me a cool place to have an audience with my subject.” he replied slickly to my question.  The royal one wasn’t phased by my questioning.  I might have been speaking in an alternatively laced universe, but somehow we understood each other.

I knew my audience was quickly coming to an end, and I asked politely if I may have the honor of the royal one sitting for a portrait.  With a resounding “Nyao,” he granted permission.  I framed the feline, pressed the shutter and thanked him deeply for his time.  I bowed and exited from his domain.


Bent on 5 Yen in the Morning Light

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Bent on 5 Yen「5円」 in the Morning


There it laid in the rising morning light.  A tiny beauty to behold.  Nothing more than a simple bent 5 yen coin.  Being given a 5 yen coin is suppose to bring the receiver good luck over in the land of the never ending pachinko clatter.

Not sure what it signifies if it has been bent like a business card.

The tarnished had a little of a twinkle in the light.  Enough that it caught my half asleep eyes to notice it on the edge of the pavement.  Just a coin.  Bent money.  A lost fortune.

I will pass on its good luck vibes and let another pass it and slip it into his/her pocket.

Luck will come, wont it?


The Temple Gate and the Squall

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The Gate, The Temple and the Squall


The weather called for sunny clear skies.  I should have known better.  I shouldn’t have paid attention to the morning report and brought an umbrella.  In the end, I didn’t.  I got caught in a torrential squall.  The rain was coming down so hard that I had to seek some shelter to keep from getting utterly soaked.

I had made it only about 5 minutes from where I started where I sought refuge under a temple’s gate.  I wasn’t alone.  Three Japanese carpenters who had been doing some repairs on the gate were also trying to keep dry under the protection of the jointed and slotted wooden structure.  I couldn’t help feeling a bit like the opening scene in Kuruosawa’s Rashomon.  As strangers seeking protection from a thunderstorm huddled around a small fire.  It does seem a bit cliche, but it was on my mind.

We were joined briefly by a pair of university students who paused for a few minutes before continuing down the stone steps.  I heard them gasp as the peered over the edge of the steps.  I could hear the rushing of the water as it flowed around the gate then down the steps.

After spending about 30 minutes the rain appeared to let up a bit, so I opened up my 100 yen umbrella and walked over the steps.  The edges of the steps had turned into a small raging waterfall.  The roughly hewn stones blurred under the flowing water.  I still was soaked by the time I reached the station.

For the 20 minute train ride home all I could think about was taking a hot shower and changing my squeaking Sauconys.  I was amazed when I stepped out at my home station less than 10 kilometers away from the torrential rain to find it bone dry.  All in all just another day during this year’s unpredictable rainy season.



Stone Steps into Waterfall

Summertime and Loquats in the City

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Hiro Riverside with Loquat Fruit びわ


Its summertime and the loquats are high.  They are bright orange fleshy fruits bursting forth in the midsummer air.  On a rainy day somewhere between Hiroo and Ebisu station.  The broad firm leaves reached out to cross the small stream contained in concrete.  There they came to fruition against the background of a meandering waterway.

Should I have plucked a few and bite into the orange flesh, working my way around the olive size pits?  I didn’t but the beauty of the orange against the gray rainy day stopped me on my quest.


We Know What Your Sealed Lips Are Thinking, Big Brother is Watching 2013

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

We Know What Your Sealed Lips Are Thinking


George Orwell wasn’t that far off.  In fact he was off by less than 30 years when he set his novel in 1984.  The year is now 2013 and they are watching.  They are sifting through billions of pieces of data looking for we can only guess at.  They say it is for our own good.  They say they will and have stopped terrorist actions.  That is only a ruse.  Why are so many willing to give up their rights for the illusion of safety?

They now now what our sealed lips are thinking.

They will continue to eat away at our rights until we say ENOUGH!



Green Curtain Madness

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Green Vined Wall with Weeds and Sign, Ichikawa


Using nature to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter is nothing new; however, since the March 11, 2011 triple disaster Japanese have been planting green curtains.  The idea behind green curtains is that the leaves will absorb the sun’s rays, release oxygen into the air, and keep homes and offices cool.  Commonly planted vines are cucumbers, goya, and morning glory.  The climbing vines are planted in front of window that will allow air to pass through, but keep out some the harshest sun.

This was not the case with this little house in Ichikawa.  The entire home has been completely engulfed in an ivy vine that the windows have completely disappeared. The only part of the home that has not  been completely covered with vines in the front door.

I wonder if these vines really keep the home cool?  Greeny green in Ichikawa sounds pretty good to me.


Fabrication, Power, Politricks

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Lying Craving Power Eye


The Tokyo prefectural elections have six days to go.  The loudspeakers blare throughout my neighborhood, as well, and every nook of massive tokyo.  The promises come.  The lies are spoken.  The picture perfect images are created.  Nothing is as it seems.

Look closely.  Inspect our leaders to the point where the ben day dots break down into their pigmented hues.  There is no truth to be found here.  Only carefully constructed  illusions that will crumble when held up to real scrutiny.

Just another day, another lie, and it is all just politricks.


All Nature is Sacred

Friday, June 14th, 2013

All Trees are Sacred to Earth


In the indigenous Shinto faith of Japan sacred natural objects are marked by tying a twisted or braided rope around them.  This signifies that they hold a special place in the faith.  They are natural objects that hold the spirits of the land.  They could be trees, rocks, mountains, and even waterfalls.

I appreciate the reverence of nature in the Shinto faith, but I also have some troubles with it.  Nature is worshiped by some practitioners as a god.  I for one do not subscribe to this belief; because, for me there is one and Only one God.  All nature flows and is possible because of the One God.  I am thankful that I live in a country and grew up in another one that allows people to follow and worship as they see.   I know that all nature is scared, and humans should work to protect the nature we have.  We shouldn’t just preserve a tree here and there as a memory for the wilds that once spread over the land.

For without nature we will not be able to nourish our bodies and souls.  If humans allow our land to be ravaged by industry we are doomed to perish.  In genesis 1:28 we are commanded to have dominion over the earth.  I read this in that we have to be it’s caretakers.  We are not to brutally destroy the earth as some have interpreted.  We are the ones responsible for its care.  We must be the ones to call out for justice because the animals cannot.

We must not forget that we came from the earth.  We might be living in a technological bubble and have contact with the earth, but it is never to late to establish those connections.  We are only capable of being fully human when we are caring for our communal world.

Let us be the caretakers of the earth.  We are here for only a short time; therefore, let us strive to make the world a healthy thriving planet.


The Way, Meijijingu Path

All Gone, All of It

Monday, June 10th, 2013

All Gone, All of It


The saga continues.  The hovel is gone.  The trees that reached towards the skies are gone.  The scaffolding and the vinyl is gone.  There is nothing left of the the store that once was.   All we are left with are is the semi-leveled earth.

Last week I was pleased that at least the trees had been spared, but that pleasing sensation gave way to dread as I passed by the location today to find a utterly empty lot.  The tree had been completely uprooted and disposed off.  A larger tree that was in the backyard was only a stump today.

All gone, all of it.


The Hovel is No More



Y Tree with Crumbling Home

The Fantastic Journey of the Little Cotton Seed that Could

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Cotton Plant's Fantastic Journey from the 305 (Miami)


Push rewind to come to a sunny backyard in Miami about three months ago.  I was standing in my brother and wife’s backyard when I spotted a scrawny looking tree that was covered with little fluffy puffs of white.  I was intrigued all of these puffs of white on the tree, and scattered about at its base.

I picked up one of the fluffs and pulled the strands apart to find dark black seeds.  Each puff held about 4-6 seeds.  I asked my brother what plant is this?  He answered that it was cotton.

I had never seen a cotton plant before.  It was amazing how the Creator provided the earth with a simple plant that we can then harvest and spin into thread.  I was astonished.  It really was looking at a tree covered in cotton balls.

A few days later I was out in his backyard again, and I collected some of the cotton and took about a dozen black seeds, wrapped them in a piece of paper and packed them away with all my goods to lug back to Tokyo.

When the weather started to warm a bit I placed about four of the seeds in a little black potting cup, and waited.  Nothing happened.  Two weeks pass by and still no growth in the pots.  I pretty much had given up, and decided to place a few more of the seeds in the cup.  The very next day, my wife tells me that one of the seeds from the previous batch had sprouted.  I was joyous and thanked the Creator for the little cotton seed that could.

In the late glow of the setting sun, we replanted this little 6 inch (15 cm)  seedling, into a proper sized pot.  I am thankful to have been able to bring a small piece of my brother’s family and transplant it to my family in the suburbs of Tokyo.



The Nekozane Kitty and Other Tails

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Furukawa Nekozane Kitty in the Window


This week has been a real different kind of week for me.  I met three people for the first time.  Ok, not really for the first time, but it was the first time that we meet in a physical space.  It was the first time I could put a voice to all the texted discourse.  For me, that is a big step in a positive direction.

I got to meet up with a photographer mate and munch on a Junior’s pastrami sandwich in the Imperial Palace Gardens and exchange our views on photography.  It really was a healing experience.  I don’t get the opportunity to chat much about topics that are close to my soul, other than pouring out typed discourse on the Lucid Communication website.

The next I met up with a singer and dancer who is here with the first time in Japan tour of the musical Hair.  We got to do some speed sightseeing and caught dinner where we compared NYC and Tokyo.  It is always refreshing to see my city, Tokyo, though the eyes of the first time experience.  It gave me more reasons to love this strange dwelling place.

Lastly, I met up with a fellow artist today to show her the basics of photography technique.  She arrived on island time but that didn’t really matter.  We went over the basics of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and how these basic numbers really determine how the image is created.

We then proceeded to walk around the old part of Urayasu.  I was shocked.  I wish she had captured what must have been a look of horror on my face to see my beloved Flower Street had undergone intensive rebuilding since the last time I strolled around more than six months ago.  More of the old buildings had been torn down and replaced with new ones.  The old bridges had been replaced.  Even some of the streets had been widened.  There are still a few pockets of old homes.  One home we passed my guest had pointed out to me that there was a kitty staring at us from a window sill.

We were invited into to see a collection of photographs that had been taken in the 1950s and 50s around Urayasu.  The humble black and white photographs captured a time when the canals and rivers were swarmed with wooden fishing boats.  The streets were lined with filleted fish and seaweed were drying in the sunshine.  These images captured a time that has slipped though the nets of Urayasu in favor of giant condominiums and the business brought about by Tokyo Disney Land.

The rate at which the old part of Urayasu has been swallowed up by the redevelopment is alarming.  There will be a time when there is no longer an old part of town, and Urayasu will only be separated from the rest of sprawling Tokyo by the Kyo Edogawa River.

Nekozane Hydrangea Home and Window

Nekozane 3 3 3 with Yellow Flowers and Rail

Tying Up The Weeds in Urayasu

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Weed Tying in Shin Urayasu


The haziness of a summer morning I found myself strangely pulled to a sidewalk patch of weeds.  Someone, or something, had come along and tied the weeds into little standing bundles.  It seemed to be reminiscent of something that would have been done in the rice fields of the deep country, but this is not were I was.  I was smack in the middle of the suburbs of Shin Urayasu.

There were probably more than a half dozen of these tied bundles lined up on a piece of earth lining a sidewalk.  I was intrigued.  Why was this done?  Is it a frustrated artist’s attempt at an environmental work?  Is it the work of a unhinged adult who misses working in the fields of his/her youth?  Do I dare?  Do I dare to say it must be the work of aliens?  I really don’t know.

To have gone from the heights of the tower of Babylon to the lowlands of weed tying.  It is just another day of striving to understand my world, and my place in it.


Tokyo, Babylon, 2013 CE

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Tokyo, Babylon, June 6, 2013 CE


As the sun quickly faded from the sky I found myself gazing down upon Tokyo from 55 stories up.  It is mind boggling how Tokyo spreads from horizon to horizon.  The blinking red lights warning low flying aircraft hypnotized me.

Masses of concrete and steel reaching ever higher and higher.  One day will they all crumble onto themselves?

The wind whipped my face as we continued to look out over Babylon.  It all of its beautiful glitzy horror, I couldn’t turn away.

All of these life stories stacked one on top of another.  Marginalized, segmented, separate yet utterly together.

Tokyo is the land where I have pitched my tent.  I am the stranger in a strange land.

The Hovel is No More

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The Hovel is No More


The space is the same.  The fence is the same.  The fork in the tree trunk is the same.  Now the hovel that was there is gone.  It is only a flattened piece of land.  It was sad to see it go but it was so decrepit that it was better to be leveled than left to crumble into itself in the next shaker.

Good bye!  It was a pleasure gazing at your corrugated siding, and your sliding windows.  I will miss you.
Y Tree with Crumbling Home

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