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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.

 

Zen Garden Moment in my Hood

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Zen Garden Hood in the Afternoon

 

Garden Zen Moment in the Neighborhood 

A day is as long as the muscles are sore.

The breeze blows over the rippling bay.

The sweat on one’s brow is about to break as the weather

lays wedged between spring and summer.

Rubber skids slides along the pebbly asphalt.

A home passed a thousand times beckons the eye.

Pupils dilate and  follows the rubber to a halt.

Concrete blocks, plastic planters, metallic hooks, are one with sculpted branches.

A mind rests, the eyes are dazzled.

All is a silent moment in the hood.

 

Y Tree Home

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Y Tree with Crumbling Home

 

This home is on my way to the bus stop in Okubo, Chiba.  It has been there for years.  I noticed on my most recent passing that the storefront and the home has been abandoned.  The building is so decrepit that the owner has draped netting and has roped off most of the home to attempt to keep it from further crumbling.

I really doubt if it will do any good.  The next large shaker that hits the Chiba area will demolish this home.  It is shame because this home has so much character, but it has out lived its ability to stand on its own.

Just a sweet object to gaze at on my way home.

 

Avoiding the Crowds in Monzenakacho

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Sub Door with Potted Plants, Monzennakacho

 

It took me quite a lot to get motivated today.  I’m not sure why.  It just seemed like quite a pain to get myself to leave the comfiness of my home.  It was partially due to the weather that had turned a bit cooler in the last 12 hours that I needed to throw on a hoody to keep warm.

I finally gulped down a glass of my homemade espresso and jumped on my bicycle to the station.  I really had no destination in mind.  I just knew I didn’t want to go anywhere crowded.  I just wanted to be on the street with my camera.  I decided to keep to the Tozai line and I got off at Monzennakacho Station.  An area known for it’s large shrine and temple and back alley restaurants.

My wandering started off slowly.  I went left where everyone else went right.  It took a while to get into the rhythm of the wandering and the clicking, but it all began to sync up.  I lost track of time.  I lost track of where I was.  All I had to choose, was straight, left, or right.

The clicking became easy.  Homes angles, potted plants all lined up for my enjoyment.  The streets were for the most part empty except for the occasional housewife, and school children.

Sometimes the hardest part of a journey is just getting started; however, once started the journey is never completed.

 

Door with Ferns and Bicycle, Monzennakacho

 

 

Green Potted Plant with Sliding Door, Monzennakacho

 

 

Ledge with Potted Plants, and Potted Plants Door, Monzennakacho

This is a Test, a Surreal Test

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

This is a Test

This is a test, a surreal test of your attention.  It was a hot and humid last day of September when, Urayasu city held its annual Emergency Preparedness Drill.  The city in conjunction with Chiba Prefecture, and the National government  organized an event to inform its citizens of the facilities in what to expect in a disaster situation.

This of course takes on even deeper meanings since the March 11, 2011 earthquake that devastated Tohoku region of Japan.  Outside of the Tohoku region, Urayasu suffered the worst damage mainly due to liquefaction.

The police, military, and emergency services all had set up displays, and interactive events to help the people of Urayasu.  I am not sure if i found it comforting or disturbing.  They say (whoever they might actually be) that Japan is does more preparation than any other country in the case of disaster strikes. There are always drills, and mock events to test the readiness of the people, and its emergency services.  This is good; however, one can never fully prepare.  There is always, and most likely the chance that something will go wrong.  I do commend the patience of the Japanese people in response to the March 11th triple disasters.  I think they did a fabulous job of coming together in the hardest hit areas.

That brings me back to this surreal event unfolding before my eyes.  Seeing the water tanks that would be used, and in the case of recent events, were used.  Witnessing Disney-cutesy characters of a soldier, a police officer and an emergency worker, was truthfully made my stomach turn.

In the end I am glad I went.  It was surreal, a surreal test indeed.

 

6-6 Garden Front

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

6-6 Garden Front Door

On the backstreets we wander.  Looking for a place to call home.  A place that we can call our own.  Lost in the greenery as it overtakes the asphalt.

Backstreets is where I roam.

 

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.

 

Wandering Higashi Ginza, Tokyo

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Higashi Ginza Tilting Lantern

I had to take my Ricoh GR IV in to the repair shop located in Ginza on Monday.  I had been meaning to stop by the Ricoh Camera Service Center for a while but just haven’t been able to make the time.  There was a bit of dust on the sensor and I knew the only way to get rid of the dust was to have the experts take a look.

I dropped the camera off and took out my GRII as a backup camera.  It was only about 2 hours after the eclipse and the sun had finally chased all the colds away.  It was perfect weather for getting lost in the backstreets of Ginza.

For most people Ginza means all those super brand stores and large department stores like Mitsukoshi, of course, Ginza has all of that, but I am not really attracted to all that glitz.  I prefer those neighborhoods that are on the fringes.  On Monday I spent most of my time walking the streets between Ginza, Higashi Ginza, and  not quite as far as Tsukiji.

There is a wonderful mixture of eateries, homes, and businesses that I have no idea what they do.  It doesn’t really matter.  It is the journey that really counts.  I had plenty of time to walk about with my old trusty camera as my GR IV wouldn’t be ready to about 3 p.m.

Sometimes the best way to find your way is to get totally lost.  That pretty much happened to me.  I turned a corner to discover that the Kabukiza (Kabuki Theater) that had been torn down about 2 years ago, was nearing completion.

Turning another corner, sliding down between the narrowest of alleys.  For me that is the honest Ginza.  Not the flashy stores or the bright lights.  Its the quiet streets that people call home.

Higashi Ginza 81-106

 

Higashi Ginza Cone Guarded Garden

7 a.m. in Madison Alabama

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Madison Albama, White Picket Fence

My brother and I had crossed over some railroad track in our quest to find an Indian buffet restaurant in Huntsville, Alabama the afternoon after we had driven up from Miami.  I spotted a sign that said Historic Downtown Madison.  I wanted to stop but our stomach had the better of us and we pushed on to get our fill of some curry.

On the Monday following the wedding I had to be up at 6 a.m. to get Jerry to the airport on time.  It didn’t really bother me to be up so early because the time I am allowed to spend with my family is all precious.  As I was making my way for the countless time to Huntsville International Airport, to our left and right the fields were covered in an early morning mist.  The kind of mist that just hovers a few feet above the ground.

I imagined being taken back in time to when these northern hills of Alabama, were the only occupants of the area.  Just the hills, the grass, and that early morning fog.

Since I had time before I needed to meet up with my family I took a detour back to the hotel so that I could take an early morning walk around Madison.  The construction crews were already on site as I wandered around in the pre 7 a.m. sunlight.

The light filtered in through the majestic trees among the white picket fences.  The yards and porches reminded me to slow down and appreciate the land and the people of Alabama.

I really had little expectations from Alabama.  I know that is a bit sad, but in my mind not much came to me, but I was impressed with the land.  The land spoke to me.  The small town America, that is quickly vanishing, spoke to my heart.

As I wandered around crossing over the railroad tracks I thought to myself what it must have been like to grow up here at the turn of the century.  The hard times only out scaled by the beauty of the surrounding land.

These thoughts all rushed through my head like the morning fog as it began to disperse the higher the sun rose.  Madison was a beautiful trip back to a place I had never been.  All beautiful in the 7 a.m. sunshine.

Blue Door, Brick Wall, Madison, Alabama

 

Tree Trunk Flowers with Home, Madison Alabama

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

Obsessive Gardening in Chiba

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

I seem to be a bit obsessed myself these days.  I am be drawn into the highly packed world of the Japanese home gardens.  These are not the elegant gardens that can be found in Tokyo like Rikugien Gardens in the center of Tokyo.  No, these are the tightly packed neighborhood gardens that I find on my wanderings.

These gardens sometimes occupy the smallest spaces imaginable.  The might feature a row of potted plants sitting atop a cinderblock wall.  They could also be found in the tiniest of spaces that most foreigners wouldn’t even recognize as a backyard.  However, this is where the Japanese show amazing skill in how they use what ever space they have in order to be able to bring some greenery into their lives and in those that pass by on the street.  I would argue that there is more greenery, and green spaces to be found here in Tokyo that that of New York City’s green spaces.

There is so little space, and at times the concrete, glass, and steel seem oppressive, but all I have to do is to turn a corner and find a small contemplative oasis of green.  It might only be some herbs that occupy a windowsill, but that green is better than no green at all.

Spider Planter Mailbox

No Trash Here Garden

Potted Plant Row and Fire Extinguisher

Hanging Garden of Ichikawa and More

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The light is in a transitional phase now.  As the sun grows more distant, the temperature begins to drop the quality of the light changes.  The light of this early winter in the late afternoon shifts towards yellow.  I really am attracted to that yellowing light.  Even in the full glare of the sun colors are rich.  Hues pop out and speak to me though my senses.  Even as my throat ached I couldn’t help but reach for my Ricoh GR IV and capture some of that light.

The use of space is amazing in Japan.  The Japanese aesthetic manifests itself in sometimes the most unlikely places like small roadside gardens that are wedged into spaces that would just be discarded in other countries.  Here the space, any space, goes to some use.  I am always amazed how the zig zags of a home are often loaded with potted plants in a tightly manicured gardens.  Actually, they might not be so manicured.  Some of them go rather wild and free.  To my eye they represent the to dichotomies of Japanese aesthetics.  The reverence of nature, and the attempt to tame nature.  I see both in the way the Japanese create their personal gardens.  These are not the Japanese gardens that are listed as national treasures. They are the homeowner’s personal treasure.  A tiny space that reflects their love and interest in the natural world even if it may be surrounded by concrete and asphalt.  The flowers rise to greet the sun, and I stop and pause to admire their beauty.

The simple elegance of (your) neighbors friendly garden.

Elevated Row Garden, with Self

Hanging Garden of Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan

Stepping Up Cinderblock Garden

Red Bloomers and Faux Stained Glass

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

After a long exhausting day, I was glad to get out into the fresh air on my way home.  I came across this little front side garden with these amazing red bloomers, that were perfectly countered by the faux stained glass.  All and all it was a good day in the neighborhood.  I feel lucky not to be going through the heat that the east coast of America is feeling now.

Everyday is a day to give thanks.

Red Bloomers with Faux Stained Glass

Garden Homes, Greening of the Neighbohood

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Here in Japan even the suburbs are filled with concrete and lack of space.  There seems to be no end to the ribbons of concrete and asphalt that line the streets of this country.  Even when there are parks, and green spaces they never seem that removed from all the the manmade structures that surround them.

Houses, even like these, that are more in the countryside, suburbs than where I live there is still a lack of gardenable space; therefore, the proud home owners do everything in their power to use what little space they have to both surround themselves with the colors of nature.

Someday, I will be able to have an endless garden, filled with flours and fruits of the earth, until that time, I will enjoy what others have to offer.

Under Window Flower Box with Chain

Front Side Sitting Garden

Purple Entrance with Gate

Wisteria Lane Atop the Hill

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Making my way back to Ichikawa station today, something caught my eye on a stretch of road that never did before.  My eyes were filled with beautiful purpler drapery.  The majestic wisteria was flowing over the gates of a home on top of the hill.

The sun shone through the leaves and illuminated the violet petals.  I have always been drawn to the color purple.  I am not sure why, but I think I find that the hue soothes my troubled soul.

After a few bumpy small aftershocks right before I shut my eyes caused me to get a bit of restless sleep. I welcomed this hue into my lens and let the healing begin.

Lets allow those gleams of color to flood into our lives, and begin the healing process.

Majestic Purple Drapery

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