old part of town

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

Losing my Way in Yanaka as a Way to be Found

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Red Door Yanaka, with Potted Plant Pedestal

The lovely autumn light led my way through the winding backstreets of Yanaka neighborhood in the heart of Tokyo.  Most of the buildings have been around since the war, and some actually survived the war.  The streets are narrow, its residents are elderly, and my heart loves this hood.

It really doesn’t matter if I take a left or a right, or even if I end up walking in circles as I often do, I will end up content and pleases with the wandering and gazing.  All of the homes are kept up with pride, small curbside gardens brighten up the narrow paths.

I started off at Sendagi station, and just started walking, I felt like taking a left I did, or a right.  Like I stated, it really didn’t matter, I made my way though Ueno and finally Okamachi station.  I like it that way.  Not knowing where exactly I am allows me to focus in on the moment.  It is only about me, the area, and my camera.  That is it.  It is really that simple.

Getting lost to find my way, on the backstreets, in the heart of old Tokyo.
Showa Building Lithograph, Yanaka

 
Yanaka 6-26 with Gate and Bicycle

Asakusa, Cramped and Refreshing

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Drugstore Beauties, Asakusa

Asakusa is a great part of Tokyo.  It is one of those spots that all foreigners and domestic tourists make their way to when they visit Tokyo.  I never really liked Asakusa that much.  There is the famous Sensoji Temple located there, but it was rebuilt after the war.  There are some touristy shops that line the way to the temple.  The shops that line the main thoroughfare reminds me of the story of Yeshua (Jesus) and driving the sellers from the temple.  Different faith, but got to get your amulets, and kitsch to take back with you.

However, once you get off the main streets of Asakusa, and wander around the backstreets, there are plenty of quality shops, restaurants, and little pockets of the Tokyo of old.  Buildings still stand that have been build of corrugated metal.  Shop signs crack with age.  In Japnese they say aji ga aru (it has character).  I dig those characteristics immensely.

These are the streets that I love to wander around.  I like to wander until I don’t see tourists walking around.  There is where I can loose my self in the moment.  I can just become one with the streets.  I take it all in.  And from time to time I am compelled to photograph a scene.

People always ask me where is your favorite spot to photograph in Tokyo.  I like to reply that I don’t have one.  Wherever I go it is a chance to become one with the surroundings.  To explore neighborhoods for the first or the hundredth time.  That is what it is all about.  But, I am really drawn to the old neighborhoods in Tokyo.  They have so much character, and I feel that they won’t be with us much longer.

Seafood Forrest, Asakusa

 

Barbershop Garden, Asakusa

A Japanese Rock Garden Saved from the Bulldozer

Friday, December 30th, 2011

The other day I made my way from the Tokyo side of the Kyoedogawa RIver to the Urayasu side to just wander around in the clear winter air.  I love wandering around the old part of the fisherman town of Urayasu.  The tight alleys and the corrugated metal homes that sit along the river that comes off the main river.

Urayasu for many years was a hub of clam harvesting, fishing, and seaweed gathering.  Urayasu was a town of fisherman.  They were utterly dependent on the sea to provide for them.  Those fisherman days are all but completely over.  There are a few families that make their living from the sea, but most now travel into Tokyo and have company jobs.

I am a bit saddened as Japan looses these pockets of old culture as the mad dash to modernize and compete on the world stage.  As I biked around the neighborhood, I was astonished to see the amount of rebuilding in the old neighborhood.  Everywhere I looked I saw houses being taken down, empty lots being prepped and building going up.  There was so much construction that was dismantling the tight community of Urayasu.

I came upon a large patch of land that had recently been bulldozed and graded relatively flat.  Buried though out the earth were thousands of shells. A reminder of the properties seaside past, or past profession.  They I spotted something unusual next to a cinderblock wall, I spied a Japanese stone lantern, and assorted rocks making up a small zen, meditative garden.  This little patch of tranquility had been sparred the bulldozer, and hopefully will be preserved for the next house that is to come.  It gives me some hope that all might not be lost in the old neighborhood of Urayasu.

Bulldozed Lot with Japanese Lantern and Rock Garden

The Lovely Side of the Street

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

My pendulum like mood swings has caused me to see things a bit more darkly that I would like.  The politricksters and their loudspeakers (this irritating noise is easily filtered out and ignored by the Japanese) hits a nerve deep in my soul and bring out some long rooted frustrations; however, there is another side of the street.

This side of the street is full of life. This other side of the street are full of neighbors that say hello, even to me a complete an utter stranger.  On this side of the street the kitty soaking up the rays smiles as if to say to me “I know.”

Wandering the back alleys no bigger than for a single bicycle to pass I found the lovely side of the street.  I will and always try to find this side to the urban jungle where I trod.  I can not ignore the sights that trouble my soul and they will emerge in my work from time to time.  But keeping this is check, it is the lovely concrete, and potted plants that bring out the best in me.

Seek it.

Look for that lovely side of the street.

Flower Potted River Front

Gas Door Grate

Urayasu Living Zen

Nothing but Slots

Beauty Salon Fat Cat

Windy Backstreets and Galettes

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I had never been to Kagurazaka before venturing there today.  I had heard that it was a bit of an old part of town, but what really got me to want to make a stroll around is when I heard that there are more French restaurants there than anywhere else in Tokyo.  I  enjoyed the little backstreets, that alternated between little bistros and exquisite Japanese places.

And finally after a beautiful Galette stuffed with cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes I was treated to my favorite coffee, a noisette.  yummy!

Perpendiculalyr Closed

Hot Crossed Wall

Yellow Square

Yochi Wada Photo Studio

Kagurazaka Compositional Still

Kasai Me on a Sunny Saturday

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Got to chat with some of the owners of the properties I was photographing today.  I always feel like I have been busted when I get asked questions about what I am taking pictures of.

One older lady tried to give me the chairs I was photographing.  I politely said not thank you,  In front of the rusted out stairs the man drove up in his van.  I told him I liked the old building, he then preceded to tell me of an old house in the neighborhood, which it turned out I already knew.

All and all a beautiful sunny day in Kasai.

Trio Umbrellas

Stairs to Roped Off Apartments

Tricylcle and Two Chairs

Young Tomatoes and Single Umbrella

Shibamata: Wood and Grass

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Shibamata is home to the serial movie character of Tora san.

The elderly wandering salesman who traveled the width and breath of Japan.

It is now known as a good spot to see some old part of Tokyo.

Wandering Shibamata’s streets, riverside, and sidewalks on a perfect summer afternoon, I was

listening with my eyes to see what I can hear.  The cicadas were singing the kids were coming home

from their first day back at school, and I just wandered.

Wood, and Grass

Meditation Prayers, Shibamata

Touches of Time, Shibamata

Riverside, Shibamata

In the Footsteps of Tora-san, Shibamata

Walls, Peace, and Windows

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Another afternoon stroll though the old part of ichikawa.

Looking for what is to be seen, and seeing what is to be found.

The scratched image reads Honto Love.  Or in other words True Love.

Up in The Hole Wall

From this Window, Peace on Earth

Real Love

Sunny Stroll though Ichikawa

Friday, June 19th, 2009

The sun was high in the sky.  The mercury is surely creeping higher and higher.  The haze

that engulfs Tokyo stretched as far as it would let you see.  

 

I journeyed back to Ichikawa station.  Wandering thought the same streets as last Friday.  The old decaying stores mingle with the freshly poured cement.  To wander the streets, is to heal my soul.  

Heal soul, Heal.

Apollo Smiles

Triangle, Wall, Bicycle

The Shut Up, Fuck YouRed Eye

Fragmented Portrait

 

see you on my next stroll.

Square Reflections from Friday

Monday, June 15th, 2009

3 more images from my stroll in the sun from Friday.  

As I sit with my sliding door wide open I can feel the cool wet

weather to come.  I look forward to the cool, but I am not crazy about

the wet.

Storefront No, Aloe Yes

Tagged, Hooked Corner

Slighly Bound

A Stroll Around Ichikawa, Chiba

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Lovely warm summer day, luckily not too hot, yet.

So as I set off for Ichikawa station, I turned right, where I usually turned

left and discovered a cool old part of town, or as the Japanese say “下町”

Lots of beautiful old buildings.  You know the kind, don’t you?  The kind of building

thats been around so long the patina just pulls you on in.  The combinations of wood, copper, and rust.

I am a sucker for it all.

Na, Na, Na 18

Drop, Drop, Drop

Nail One, or One Nail

Composition in Blue with an Orange MinorChecker Check

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