mimomi

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

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.

 

Gardening in the Neighborhood

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Flower Burst Wall Window

The weather today has been gorgeous.  It might seem strange but after a few days of some weather that just confused me, it is nice to have awoken to clear skies and coolish air.

The weather on the stroll around this Narashino neighborhood on Friday was perfect.  The small plots of land are always stuffed to the bursting point with plants.  The Japanese had a great knack when it comes to using space efficiently.  Most people who are into gardening will have plants lined up on walls, in front of the home, and even planting some in the earth if they have the space.

I love look at how beautiful and compacted these gardens are.  There is so much concrete we are surrounded by everywhere we turn, it is a pleasure to see some green leaves reaching towards the sunshine.

I too have tried to use my space efficiently by planting a container vegetable garden this year on my patio.  I will keep you posted on it’s progress.

Keep on sowing seeds!

Bush Wall Taped Up Mailbox

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

 

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

Stepping up the Gardens

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

We still seem to be in the yo-yo throws of the weather.  Cold, wet, and rainy is followed by cool and sunny.  I really don’t mind so much because it allows me to still enjoy the cool clean air without having to be all bundled up.  Not only being reminded of the complete changeability of the the weather, at 5:59 a.m. on Saturday morning a 5.2 earthquake shook us awake.  It wasn’t that powerful of a quake, but its epicenter was not far from where we lay our heads to rest.  As a friend mentioned this morning that with all the shaking it must be like living in a war zone, when you never know when the enemy is going to strike.

I try my hardest to put all of these things into perspective and not let them to disrupt my mediations and focus.  They are more reminders of the delicate nature of life that we have been granted here on the earth.  We need to make the most of it and devote our energies to what really matters.  Reaching out our hands to help others in needs.  Using our time to explore ourselves and the world that we all inhabit.  Looking for those vibrations that speak to our souls.

Sometimes the language being spoken to us is confusing and needs to be translated.  In my case it is my camera that helps me to interpret the world around me.  The lens acts as a mechanism to filter the world, and allows me to see the positivity in the world.  Those positive vibrations might be hidden in plain view, but with my mediation and focus I am blessed to be able to see that beauty.  Those concrete steps, which for some are just concrete steps, take on new meaning to me.  They are an integral part of my worldview.  The plants and life that inhabit the tiny spaces, sometime being taken care of with tenderness, and others being left to the elements to thrive on their own.

These are the images an objects that merge in my lens and allow me to approach the world.  I am open to change.  I look forward to seeing the world through a unique perspective.  These are the gardens of life that are sowed in the streets of my soul.

Steps Umbrella Trio of Pots Garden

Porch Front Garden with Plastic Chair, Mimomi, Chiba Japan

Potted Aloe Plants with Bicycle Garden Ornament

Winter: Orange, Blood, and Pride

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

The calendar now tells me it is winter.  Only two days ago the temperature peaked at 20 degrees celsius, however, the Creator must have looked at the calendar too because the temperature dipped down to 4 degrees celsius last night.  I am up and out of my house the earliest on Friday, which is a good thing.  It is like the sooner I can get my day over with, the sooner I can sit back and be thankful for the allotted time of the Sabbath.

I have to journey out to the boonies of Chiba prefecture, which entails using a train and a local bus.  On rainy days, like today, the bus is always jammed pack.  Today it was especially packed with junior high school students.  They are certainly a noisy bunch.  I got on the bus a bit late, but luckily I could find a seat.  Usually, I am in the back of the bus, today I was in the front sitting in the section that is reserved for elderly, moms, injured and the like.  After I took my seat an elderly man and woman also got on the bus.  I got up, tapped the elderly woman on the shoulder, and offered up my seat.  She, being the polite Japanese woman didn’t want to accept the seat, saying that she was going to get off the bus soon.  Eventually after some back and forth pleading, she took the seat.  I was amazed, but not surprised that none of the kids offered up their seats to the the elderly gentleman.  They all absorbed themselves with studying, or staring into their cellphones.  Quite a lack of respect for their elders.  It was me, the gaijin (foreigner) that set the example, that was ignored by the youth.

After taking care of what I needed to do for the day in Chiba I always take a leisurely walk back to the station to unwind, and to begin my mediations on the Sabbath.  It is the time to change those gears that grind away in my mind, and let them start to ease into a mode where I am able to give thanks, and recoup my mind, body and spirit.  The wind was whipping around my scarf as I wandered down the backstreets.  My eyes taking it all in.  I am on the lookout for that next perfect square to shoot.  I am amazed at how many flowers are still in bloom.  I am not sure if it is because of the late warm weather, or it is just that I never really pains close attention to the changing seasons and the changes in the blossoms that it brings.

Since returning to Japan post the March 11th earthquake disasters, I have been much more in tune with the seasons.  I notice how the blossoms hit their peak one week, then the next begin to whiter away, or change into green fruit.  I am thoroughly enjoying watching the seasons change.  I am fascinated in catching those changes with my camera.  The images are a visual diary of the intersection of my world with the the natural world.

As I continued on I came across an elderly man and woman.  The man had fallen down on the slippery slope and the woman, from what I could gather, was trying to help him.  The mans hand had gotten beaten up and was bleeding.  The woman to had blood on her hand from trying to help the gentleman.  I took the man by the arm and helped get him to his feet.  I rummaged though by bag and found a pack of tissues I had been handed at the station sometime before.  The man just kind of stumbled off. He pretty much refused our help.  The last thing the woman said to me was he probably was drunk.

I am thankful for these vignettes in disguise as life’s lessons.  They are the 24 frames per second that make up our lives.  I am thankful to pause and ponder my place in it all.  If I had taken another way back to the station, I would have missed the man that had fallen, yet I was pulled in that direction.

We should all take the time to respect our elders.  They have been here before us.  They have stories etched into the lines on their faces.  It is just one more piece of the life puzzle that I am thankful for.

May you all enjoy a beautiful day of rest.  Enjoy the time given to regenerate the spirit.

Three Triumphant Orange Winter

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

Pomegranates and Spiked Headed Pinkness

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

The weather continues to be changeable.  I never quite know what to expect from day to day.  The skies in Japan are so clear this time of year that I can often see all the way to Mt. Fuji.  Sometimes it is just a lofty silhouette in the setting sun.  It is a reminder that I am in the land of the rising sun, and not anywhere else on this planet.

Strolling back to the station in the afternoon sun I came across a pomegranate tree with its fruit so ripe that the pomegranates were bursting open and spilling their juicy arils on to the ground.  These succulent red hues were filled with the potential to bring forth another life.  They all have the chance, under the right conditions, to grow into a lovely mature tree.  As I looked up at the fruit still hanging from its branches I wondered what will happen to them.  Will the owner come out and harvest them to feed his family and others?  Or, will they just be left to rot on the branch?  What about the seeds that fell onto the asphalt?  Surely, they won’t be able to sprout into a new tree.  Will the local wildlife in this quite suburb on the outskirts of metropolitan Tokyo come along for a juicy snack.

I find myself thinking about these issues these days and how they relate to my life.  How I try, and many people I know, go out into the world trying to spread goodness.  How much of that goodness will find the fertile soil to be able to grow into a fully formed accomplishment.  Will our labors of love be able to bring forward fruit from the tiny seeds that they came from.  It always feels good to know that the seeds one has planted gathers the water and nutrients to return with fruit.

Just some issues, topics that are wandering around in my lucidly communicating mind.

Pomegranate Arils Bursting

Urban Ledge Cluster Flower

Spreading Pomegranate Seed

Aloe You Happy?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I sometimes am.  And then there are other times that I am not so happy.  I honestly try not to let those kind of days get to me.  Hey that is one of the reasons that I am a creative person.  The blues are meant to be chased away by our artistic endeavors.  So, when you are confronted with troubles, don’t get angry.  Take a deep breath.  Breathe so deeply that the oxygen reaches the very core of your soul.  Then, exhale out again until every last drop of air has been expelled out.  Noe, with the mind refreshed look at that same problem and find a solution.  Don’t forget if you get really stuck there are people who can always go to for some advice.

Aloe Gate Cinderblock Wall

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