ichikawa

Contemplating Temple Lotus Leaf, Rain and Bang

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Contemplating Temple Lotus After the Rain, Ichikawa, Japan

 

Last night the winds howled around the apartment buildings and homes in my neighborhood.  The rain splattered against my window.  The night was one of constant interruptions.  No real quality sleep, just lots of sleep deprived dreams of oddities.

Then without warning the floor moved.  It wasn’t a shaker.  It didn’t build to a crescendo and released its power.  It was as if the world’s table had been slammed into and then it was over.  It was enough of a jolt to induce a surprise.  As quickly as it came it was gone.

On my walk to the station I often pass through a temple on top of a hill.  The vividness of the green Japanese maple caught my eye, and I walked over the circular driveway to get a different vantage point.

I looked down into the claw pots that were filled with lotus leafs.  They too were incredibly green.  There were jewels floating on the gaps over the leaf’s veins.  I starred.  Did hail fall from the sky in the storm?  I was curious so I ever so gently poked the bobble with the tip of my umbrella, and it moved.  Not ice, but crystal clear water.

The walk through the temple always calms my nerves.  I take the time to look around to see what is blooming, greening, and fading away.

Rain, will bring flowers.  The earthquakes bring fear.  They all can be released though the passion of attempting to live life though artistic expression.

 

Autumn Begins with the Return on the Red Spider Lilies

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Temple Red Spider Lily 01, Lycoris radiata_

 

We are in the beginning of beautiful seasonal change to autumn.  The air has dried out except for the occasional typhoon that rolls in from the pacific.

I can still get away with wearing a short sleeved shirt during the day, but last night I had to pull on a light jacket.  I love it.  Autumn and spring are my two favorite times of year.  The light becomes incredible as the days grow shorter and shorter after the equinox.

I had never noticed the Red Lily Spider flower until after the March 11th disasters, when I my soul searched out nature where ever I could find it.  My eye were beginning to sync with the seasons when I first spotted these popping out of the ground in a little temple garden in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan.

I called them spiders, because honestly that is what they looked like only they were a stunningly hue of red.  The are called Higanbana or Manjushage in Japanese meaning “never to meet again, lost memory, abandonment”  which is quite fitting because the bulbs are highly poisonous.

Autumn is here because the moon and the higanabana have told me so.

May you all have a peaceful day of rest, and enjoy the changing seasons.

 

Temple Red Spider Lily 02, Lycoris radiata 彼岸花 曼珠沙華

Kicking Back at the Local Liquor Shop, Feline Style

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Kicking Back at the Sake Shop, Feline Style

 

It is time to say goodbye to Ichikawa till September.  I will miss the relaxing walks back to the station, but I know it is only for a short time, and I will be challenged by what has changed over the summer heat.

I pass this liquor shop on my way to the station.  I have seen this kitty waiting outside in the cooler months, but I think this one knows how to keep cool.  This one has kicked back on top of some boxes of wine.  He’s got a first rate view of all the action on the street outside.  I’m sure it is much cooler on the inside than the plus 30 degrees temperature outside.

I think that all this one is missing is the feline Mojito.  What is a feline Mojito, it is pretty much the same as what I like to partake in except instead of spearmint, I crush up a bit of catnip.

Now that would be chilling feline style.

 

Red Temple Fungus of Ichikawa

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Red Temple Fungus Returns

 

I had spotted this fungus a little more than a year ago growing on the lowest part of the trunk and roots on a tree in a temples courtyard.  It’s brightly colored orange ears creating a patchwork, families, against the dark tree bark.

I was captivated by the hues.  I had to get in for a closer look.  I wanted to know what shapes it had taken.  What makes it grow?  Why does it only grow on one of the trees in the temple’s yard?

I don’t know.  These little fungus blossoms help me to focus, to be on my watch. For no one knows when the return will come.

 

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.

 

The Rain Will Come, The Flower are Out

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Konodai I-Chome with Flowers and Gate

 

The air was refreshingly cool today.  A sign that the rainy season will begin within the next 10 days or so.  I really don’t mind the rainy season.  It reminds me of Miami.  The rain is pretty constant for about 3 to 4 weeks.  The only real problem for me is that I don’t get as much of a chance to ride my bicycle.

The skies were filled with clouds in all directions which muted all the hues, and let the colors pop off against the grayness of the asphalt.  The hydrangeas are just starting to bloom, another nod that the rainy season is coming.

The rains will come.  Droplets falling from the heavens will wash away our sins.  The rivers near my home will swell and turn into rushes of chocolate colored milk.

Be in tune with the natural world that surrounds us, even if that nature is filled with concrete and high powered wires.

Greeted with Flowers and a Skewed Wall

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Bushy Flowers with Skewed Wall

 

Today was one of those days that never really went anywhere other than a bit of frustration.  I did let myself down and the stress got to me.  However, I resolved that I wouldn’t let me down for long.

On Tuesdays I usually walk through an old Buddhist temple on my way to the station.  I enjoy those few moments away from the rush of people, and just the quiet serenity of the area.  I rounded on the outside of the large gate and stood at the top of a stone stairway and just breathed.  The sun was out stronger than ever today but this little spot in the shade atop a hill was ultra pleasant.  I just stood there looking at the shadows, taking in the scents, letting go of whatever stress had got of me.

After a few moments I walked down the steps.  There was a man halfway down the steps in front of me taking pictures, and and elderly gentleman on his way up as part of an exercise routine.

Once I reached the bottom and was out in the sun again, it hit me how intense the sun was.  I wandered around on my way to the station.  Just taking my time, and pausing now and then to snap a photograph.

A patch of red caught my eye, and I entered into a small urban park turned around and saw this clump of red flowers.  Never had really noticed them before.  That is the challenge.  To walk the same streets, and still be amazed daily.

There is nothing more therapeutic to my soul as framing a photograph, pressing the shutter, and now writing an accompaniment.

Cherry Blossoms Just about Gone, but not Forgotten

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Prayer Cherry Blossom, Ichikawa 2013

 

About two weeks ago back in Miami I started to get a bit nervous as my friends started posting about the wonderful cherry blossoms they were experiencing in Japan.  I had to take a deep breath thinking that this could be the fist time since moving to Japan when I would miss the cherry blossoms.

On average, from what I have gathered, the blossoms arrived about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual.  Would I miss the official arrival of spring as heralded by the tiny flowers?  Fortunately for my mind’s grace and the powers greater than my own the little wonders continued to hang on after I had arrived back in Tokyo.

I desperately wanted to go out with the crowds on Sunday to catch the last of the weekend hanami (flower watching) parties but I was kept shut in by rain, cold, and jet lagged induced narcolepsy.  The weather had cleared up substantially by Monday to the point where I was able to ride my cycle and explore the Ichikawa streets.

The crowds were already gone except for a small group of women and children here and there enjoying the last of the flowers.  Retirees were still out with their tripods and ultra lenses waiting for that decisive moment, and then there was me.  Stepping through the streets and temples with nothing but my little Ricoh GR.

I am thankful to the creator for allowing me to witness the spring with my eyes and heart.  The coming of spring is special amongst all people.  It is the beginning of the year that is commemorated with the keeping of passover in the faith of my ancestors.  Here in Japan it is also the mark of the new year.  The youth will start their new grades by the second week of april just as the last of the blossoms are drifting off the trees.

The blossoms signal new times.  There are new hopes that blossom quickly that if one chooses to pursue will transform into  fruit.

The cherry blossoms are only here for a short time.  Enjoy them before they are washed out into Tokyo Bay.
Chasing Cherry Blossom Petals, Ichikawa 2013

 

 

Cherry Blossom Lanterns Flower Park, Kasai, 2013

 

 

Skyward Cherry Blossom, Ichikawa 2013

 

 

Cherry Blossom with Pond, Ichikawa 2013

Momiji Moment of Silence

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Momiji Moment of Silence

The heavy December rains were falling as I made my way in to work on a soggy Tuesday morning.  I was bundled up for the weather as it is my only defense against the cold.  I looked as if the sun would never burst through the clouds, but I was wrong.

Soon after lunch the sun did finally struggle to make a brilliant appearance.  Off to the west the sun’s rays blasted though the clouds while the east was still gray with rain.  The two opposites quietly inhabited the same space.  This is when I found myself wandering through a peaceful temple’s garden gazing at the wondrous momiji (japanese maple).  The colors were reaching their fulfillment as they ripened to hues of burgundy.

The momiji’s colors contrates with the yellow ginko leaves that carpeted the ground.  I was able to steal a moment of stillness.  A moment of just myself enveloped in their hues.  The young children and their mothers no longer entered into my consciousness.  I was at one with the hues.  The hues were as silent as I hope my my soul could be.

 

Those Natural Moments, Make Our Days

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Living Sentinels and the Watchtower

Today I was talking to a good friend of mine who has been going though some tribulations.  There are times in our lives no matter what we seem to do that the events in our have a way of dragging us down.  My friend commented that what actually lifted him up and over the much of everyday life was some poetry.  They were in fact a collection of haiku.  It was art that lifted up his soul and refreshed his spirit.

I too find that art has the power to lift me out of depression.  Art has the power to wipe the stains of life clean as I search out inspiration from the world around me.  I am surrounded by concrete; therefore, sometimes the only nature I am exposed to are confined to terra-cotta pots.  The largest recent inspiration comes from the skies above.

Today it came in a garden at a Buddhist temple.  I find it so relaxing that after a day of work to wander through this temple on my way back to the station.  Today a pair of large trees, with gnarly roots captures my soul.  I, of course, had passed them hundreds of times, but today was different.  I stood and watched them.

Some goldenrod also caught my eye as it was jetting out from the edge of a canal.  The earthy yellow pollen may be aggravating my allergies, but the colors are so soothing to gaze upon.

It is these little encounters with nature in an urban world that make my day.  I hope that others out there can reap the benefits of being in tune with the natural world around them.

 
Goldenrod Canal Riverside Embankment

Autumn Acorn Memorial Gate

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Acorn Memorial Gate

It was just another sign of the passing from summer into autumn.  I spotted a few acorns that had been gathered and placed on the wooden gate of an old temple in Ichikawa, Chiba.  It is still early enough in autumn that the acorns were still green.  The green so beautifully contrasted against the centuries of patina on the wooden gates.

It truly seems like one day it was summer and the next day I am pulling a hoodie over my head to keep the chill factor at bay.  The wind was whipping around as gray covered the skies that this little acorn spoke out to me.

“Here I am!” it announced to the world.  I wonder how many had passed under the gate and missed this green gem.  Is the little acorn not speaking loudly enough?  Or is it that it is only there for the people that are operating on the same wave length.  Whoever placed the acorn there was also tuned into his/her surroundings.

As the phases of the moon tick off towards another year, it is always those little reminders that let us know the season, and our place in it.

Be on the watch for those acorns, for the changing leaves soon come.

 

Bridge to My Dreams: Ichikawa Style

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Bridge to My Dreams: Ichikawa Style

Once upon a time a young man had many dreams.

Visions filled his head of brides, paths, towering heights over vast expanses of water.

Was it Key West?

Was it the San Francisco Bay Area?

Or was it Myoden in Ichikawa?

The young man thought he knew the answer, but he does not know.

He only knows that a young man once dreamt of bridges stretching to the horizon.

The young man dreams.

The middle aged man remembers the dreams.

The old man collages the dreams and reality.

 

Bridge to My Dreams: Ichikawa Style.

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.

 

Life Between Stages

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Life Between Stages

From shadow we come into this world and all will return to the shadows.  The way we choose to live in the sunshine defines us as the person we become.  We have decisions to make along the way.  At times we run towards the shadows and attempt to hide from our true nature, but that is only running away from ourselves.

Once we are in the light all can be revealed if we consciously search for the truth.  We will never to be able to find truth if we look for it in darkness.  It is only in the light that we can begin to comprehend what the word truth means.

What has been framed out of this image.  What lies to the left side?  What can one find if you were permitted to gaze over the edge and into the city?

My photographic frame is my frame of mind.  It is my often feeble attempt to visual record my life’s stages.  In my argument at least I am searching for answers, even if I may never find them.

 

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.

 

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