chiba

Tonal Conversation between a Mailbox and Ivy

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Mailbox and Ivy Tonal Conversation

The rain was falling at just a slight patter as I passed this lovely house for an untold time.  It has caught my lens many times before.  I love the way in which the ivy has become a part of the house.  The ivy is not a separate entity that can simply be divided from the house.  It is part of its soul.

The ivy has creeped its way onto all the surfaces of the house.  It has finally met its match when it encountered the mailbox.  There the mailbox has been hung.  It waits for the mail that may or may not come.  The seeking vines of the ivy have found the red hued box to be quite a guilty little pleasure.

Hmmm, what shall they converse about?  I think they are holding a conversation on tones.  The music of the street.  The rhythm of the neighborhood pulses and pushes them into a lucid meeting on their northern facing wall.

Just a daily conversation.  They will decide how deep they will delve.  For I am just an observer, a note taker, with a camera.

 

La Mer, The Ocean, Okitsu Beach

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Okitsu Beach Wave Sound Power

We were up at 5 am.  That is what you have to do here in Japan if you want to go to the beach and avoid the killer traffic.  It wasn’t that bad because at least I knew I would be able to soak up the salt and sun for a whole day.

Being from Miami, Florida I really have yet to see any beach in Japan that really can compare to back home.  The beaches here are a bit like that in Northern Cali.  The sand party are small.  The rocks and hills lead directly into the water.  The water’s temperature is on the cold side for me.  I had to get pretty heated up by the blasting sun in order to take a cool plunge into the Pacific.

It was amazing watching the colors of both the sky and the sea change all day long.  It all depended on the clouds and the tide.  At times the hue was the bluest blue I had seen since Florida.  Other times it was dull green.

I just wanted to be by the seaside.  The sun singed my Teva sandaled feet.  The salty air whipped through our little tarp.  I just wanted to be by the pounding surf that rolled in with high tide.  It is another pace for life.  The ebb and flow of the water.  The fisherman going out into the cold water in search of golden fish.

Just being me by the sea.  It doesn’t really matter that most of the beach has been covered in concrete.  I can imagine a time when it wasn’t.  The shore side may have changed but the ocean is true to who it always has been.

Okitsu Stepped Beach, Low Tide

 

Sea Hawks, Okitsu Beach

 

Le Jette, Okitsu Beach

 

Returning from the Pacific, Okitsu Beach

Intersection of Natural and Man’s Creations

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Concrete Slab, Drainage Pipe, Hydrangeas Hillside

June is quickly drawing to an end.  The rainy season has come, and without many downpours it has seemed to have already moved on.  There was the unseasonably early typhoon and the heavy Friday rain of last week, but that is about all that has really intensely fallen.

The weather still has been quite odd.  I even had to pull on a sweater on Monday due to the chill.  I am NOT complaining!  I am only observing this oddity. I am thankful for a bit of cool summer weather because, I know that the sticky hot months of July and August will be upon all the city dwellers soon enough.  Those days where the humidity is so high that walking out one’s front door is like getting slapped in the face with a hot wet blanket.

As I stroll around in the spare moments that I have I am more attracted to the way nature and mankind’s creations interact with each other.  Sometimes that interaction one of the two is winning the battle; however,   there is often quiet détente playing out between the uncomfortable neighbors.

The large blooming hydrangeas cast sharp shadows over it’s concrete neighbors.  The concrete prohibits the flowers’ roots from seeking more fertile ground.  There they both exist influencing each other.  No one wins no one truly looses.  In the camera’s mixing palette both gain an non combative posture.  In the lens they acknowledge each others presence.

We must deeply love the natural world.  Without love we will never be able to survive as a species.  Our interactions must be done out of love and respect for nature.  Let some areas be completely wild, while we attempt to tame others.  Let us bring some of that wildness into the spaces that we occupy with our homes, offices, and public spaces.

In the meantime I continue to inhabit this détente between the two dynamic spheres.  My heart sees the two clearly, and I search out those frames where there isn’t a struggle it is only cooperation.

That is the intersection between the leafy green and the poured concrete. The delicately balanced harmonious interactions between those worlds that enter my heart by way of a piece of ground glass.

The Green Corner

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Trunk Corner Mimomi, Chiba

A corner of green wedged in between asphalt plastic and metallic railing.  Made luscious by Japan’s coming monsoon rains.  The greening of a small bit of paradise.  To the left and to the right is nothing but suburban lands.  Here is home.  This bit of comfort is what I have chosen to receive.

We all make those choices.  Everyday we are presented with countless of choices in how to perceive our surroundings.  How we make those choices reflect how we experience life.

Seeing green or seeing gray, the choice is yours.

 

There is a Jungle if Your Framing is Right

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Konodai Jungle View, Ichikawa-shi

A friend once told me a story about the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  Kurosawa was being questioned about the way he framed a particular shot in a movie and the questioner was reading into the framing to much.  Kurosawa, stopped him and said that he had no choice but to frame the image in this way because to the left and right were industrial factories.

I often think of this statement when I am in the process of framing an image.  Photographers are constantly editing their photographs even before they manifest themselves out of the camera’s body.  Photographers make choices, and those choices reflect the meanings embedded within the frame of the images.

I view each opportunity to compose within my viewfinder as the first step in editing my images.  What I don’t show is often as important as the way in which the objects find themselves arranged in the photograph.

This image appears to be a jungle, but it isn’t a jungle.  It is in fact shot from the third floor of a building on a small university campus.  This is what I saw at that particular time and place, fused with my mental state.

There are jungles out there where there are no wilds.

 

There is Always A Bright Patch, A Lavender One

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Lavender Bright Patch, Ichikawa

Thoughts keep bouncing around my thick-headed cranium.  I am not sure where they emanating from.  Well, I know that in actuality they of course are coming from my own consciousness.  Sometimes it seems like I have no control over my own thought process.  The thoughts rattle around keeping me awake at night.

It can be difficult to break the bonds of negative thoughts.  We have all been there.  It appears that no matter what we do these thoughts come hauntingly back into our consciousness.  How do I rid myself of these thoughts?  The only way is to confront them and to own up to the fact that they are part of myself.  I wrestle with how to define my place in the world as a human being.

I know I am not the artist that uses his/her art to achieve political means.  I respect artists that choose that path, for it is essential for communication in our saturated society.  I am sure that I am not the artist that uses shock and sexuality.  If that is what an artist chooses the way to walk, then so be it.  I rather elevate thought than wallow in the shadows.  We must acknowledge our own shadows as part of ourselves in order to be of complete consciousness.

This brings me back to my question of what kind of art do I want to reveal to myself and the world.  Let us just say that it is a “work in progress.”  I am in daily therapy with my camera to work that one out.

There is always some color somewhere in my life.  Even as negative thoughts bounce around and cloud my path.  I am aware that within my soul lies the solution.  It is up to me to clear the way to allow that positivity to enter my thoughts process.

Today I found it in the light in the shape of a plastic pot with blooming lavender.  It wasn’t much, but it did shine some light on some clouded thoughts.  If you look for those bright paths you can find them.

 

Just Dandelions but I like ’em!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

White Lion Dandelion  白タンポポ

This is the season for the lovely dandelion.  For many the dandelion in only a nuisance in the form of a yellow flowering weed, but that is not how I think of them.  They are lovely flowers that make their life so close to the earth.

They make their appearance in spring as yellow mane heads pop forth across the Japanese landscape.  The pop up wherever their seeds floated in from the previous year.  They wiggle their way into cracks in the pavement, and along the railroad tracks that criss cross the countryside.  They sprout proudly and before we know they under a metamorphosis and become balls of seeded fluff.  All ready to spread forth across the land.

They are always yellow or that is at least I thought until I came across something different.  Nestled in between a stone fence at a shrine I came across the elusive White Dandelion of Chiba Prefecture.  It was large and bold in the cloudy early afternoon light.  I never know if I will see another White Dandelion, I hope I do.  I will keep my lens open to see whatever chooses to cross in front of my focal plane.

Just Dandelion  タンポポ

Flowers Know No Boundaries

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Flowers Know No Boundaries

Flowers know no boundaries.  They do not get caught up with the artificial borders that humans set up against each other.  The flowers know whats really up. Boundaries are only lines that are drawn on a map.  We humans give them meaning, but to the fauna world they might as well be invisible.  Well, in fact they usually are, unless, walls, fences, or barbed wire has been laid.

The wind know no boundaries too.  The wind scoops the tiny flowers of next spring in its arms and blows them across the world.  Fences never stand in their way.  Wall are overcome by simply going up and over.

The flowers instinct to survive and lay seeds for the next generation is an amazing force of nature.  Nothing can stop them from seeking the warmth of the ground to seep their roots.

They know no boundaries.  They are flowers.  They are all powerful in their simple exquisite perfection.

E5RDXHRJWVF7

 

Sayonara Kitty!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Barbershop Soloist, Feline 猫 Cat, Nishifunabashi Chiba, Japan

I met a friend for lunch on Monday in Nishifunabashi in Chiba.  I got there a bit early so I had some time to wander around and just see what was to be seen.

It was a brilliantly clear day with the skies blue and cloudless.  A great day to be out and about even if it was only in Chiba.

This kitty caught my ear first.  He was meowing away.  Saying “look at me!, Look at ME!!”  It took me a few moments before I could find where the meowing was coming from, and here the kitty was up on the second story looking down at me.

I thought to myself as my time in Japan, at least for a few weeks, winds to a close, that this kitty was saying Sayonara to me. I will miss you Japan.  I will miss my own kitties too.

Many Hugs, and I will catch up once I arrive in the 305, Miami, Florida, that is.

 

Reversed View, Pause, Meditation

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Pause Meditation, Mimomi Sky

This was an odd day.  Like I wrote about yesterday I had some unexpected time off from the usual hustle in the middle of the day.  On my way back I paused in front of the walk way up to the buildings.  There they were, just shining clearly in the winter sunlight.  I paused.

I melted into the moment and then squeezed the shutter button. It was only a moment.  But it was more than sufficient to soothe my soul and make my day a little bit better.  A mediation on seeing.  Seeing what is right in front of our eyes.

The interesting point is i usually walk away from these buildings.  I have never walked towards them before.  That in itself was a new way of seeing the usual in a new way.  All it took was a 180 degree turnaround.  And, poof, there it was, as if I had never seen it before.

In a way, I really hadn’t.  That is the challenge I seek on a daily basis.  How do I take what I see day after day and process it into something that I haven’t seen before.

A lot of it has to do with letting go of all of my preconceived images, and just to be in that moment of time with myself and my camera.  We work in harmony with each other with in the boundless area of the environment.  Just be.

 

Walk, Pause, Mediation, Repeat as often as Needed

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Moment Meditation

There are so many moments that make up our days.  These days quickly become years, and suddenly we look at the life we have lived.  For me, life is not like a movie, it is a series of moments, or frames of moments that create my life.

They are blocks of time.  These blocks are completely adjustable.  They can stretch into years, or be as fleeting as butterflies’ flapping wings.  We must make the choice to savor the moment.  To pause, breathe, take it all in, and become connected to the world that we all inhabit.

I took advantage of some extra time today to take a walk to a little Nepali curry spot for lunch.  I noticed as I was walking to the station that there is a small road on the opposite side of the tracks from where I usually trod.  I knew that I would take that road on the way back.

I had the curry, a nice surprise as to my usual bento lunch on Fridays, and headed back on the street that I had never walked.  The sun was shining, the air was wintery crisp.  I walked past a temple, and then came to a tiny playground.  There was a fence separating the playground from the temple, yet there was this gigantic multiple pronged tree on the playground side.

The shadow cast by the tree effortless connected with my spirit.  I wasn’t trying to make a photograph happen, it just happened.  I felt the hues, the charcoaled hues of the shadow, snaking in front of me and leading my eye back to the trunk of the tree.

A brief moment.  A moment of mediation where I completely melted into my subject.  The shadow, the tree chose me, to photograph them.  A beautiful moment of stillness, and clarity.

A perfect way to welcome the sabbath.

Shabbat Shalom, may you all have a beautiful day of rest.

Beautification in Mimomi, Chiba, Japan

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Suburban Beautification Image Garden

Beautification takes many forms in Japan.  By definition beautification is the attempt to make something that is not beautiful more beautiful by altering the environment.  I come across these beautification projects on my wanderings though out Japan.

The two images in today’s post are from the bicycle parking attendant’s hut at Mimomi Station in Chiba.  It is really a bare bones kind of station.  Not much to be seen or make itself special in anyway.  It is obvious that the attendants take pride in their location and have tried to spruce up the grays with plants, posters, and reflectors.  All of these elements are the beautification of the simple bicycle parking.

My favorite is the laminated picture that has been adhered to the wall under an empty window.  It is a pleasant setting of somewhere in the countryside in Japan.  Autumn trees are blowing gently in the breeze.  It does seem ironic to gaze onto a concrete wall to have a picture of the countryside there.  But then again this is Japan, and anything, just about anything is possible.

Train Station Bicycle Garden

 

Sopping Wet Snow Spotted in Chiba, Japan

Friday, January 20th, 2012

It’s cold.  Really cold.  It is the kind of wet cold that just goes through your skin and heads straight to your bones.  This is when my growing up in Miami has its drawbacks.  It is right on the threshold of what I can bear.

The rain came all night, and continued into the morning.  People living on the west side of Tokyo had snow in the morning, but us on the east side next to the bay it was just gray dreary rain.

At around 12:30 pm the rain started become a bit slushy.  Not ten minutes later did that slush become snow.  I stood in front of a large glass window watching the clumps of snow fall to the ground and then vanish once they hit the puddles.  Watching the snow come down always relaxes, and excites my soul.

Snow was always something special to me.  My family only got to experience snow when war were on a vacation.  So, as soon as I see snow I think, VACATION!  I don’t want to see to much snow.  But a few times a winter is enough for me.

On this shabbat a special shabbat shalom shout out to Christine for sending some goodies from the states.  May all my other friends and family have a beautiful day of rest too!

Step Up Snow Kenji

Farewell Ichikawa, Japan, Till April

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

I walked those Ichikawa streets for the last time for a few months today.  The sun’s rays were growing long, and the light was just perfect.  Sometimes, I just see, and observe how quickly the light changes around this time of day.

It is around that time of day, that a few minutes, even a few seconds can make the difference between the most amazing light and just in the shadows.  I love watching those changes.  Light, and seeing light has become integral part of what makes up life.

I wonder to myself, how can people just walk by with out seeing how amazing the light is.  I know other photographers know what I am talking about.  Golden, yellow, orange, white, they are all there.  All one has to do is pause and just open your heart, and see what is happening all around you.

So, for now, I bid a sweet farewell to Ichikawa.  Goodbye!  Take care!  I will walk your streets again come April.

Till April Ichikawa

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

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