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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

Fishing the Ichikawa Autumn Dream Bridge

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Fishing the Ichikawa Autumn Dream Bridge

The autumn has finally come.  Each morning is dryer and cooler than the day before it.  A bridge spans the distance between to place, two ideas, two sides.  As a vision we sit with hook and line slightly drifting attempting to hook the dreams, the dreams we envisioned in our youth.

I stand on one bridge looking out over another thinking back to those dreams of two bridges side by side.  One that was rusted and flat reaching far into the horizon, the other arching up into the sky.  Two ways to cross from here to there, which one I would choose would determine a course in my life.

Here I am thousands of miles away thinking back to the flicker of my mind images as a stranger in a strange land.  Fishing for those dreams, casting the soul into the current. Sharpening the hook to catch the spirit.

 

Let the Light Enter

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Shoji Flower 障子 の花

There is a house on an old street in Urayasu.  The house dates back to the late 19th century and luckily the city of Urayasu has seen the benefit in preserving the home as portal back to Urayasu’s own past.

All of the wood in the home is well burnished to a golden mahogany hue.  The home shows its age just as the rings in a tree’s trunk do.  All sharp edges have been smoothed over as countless hands have slid the shoji (障子) to let in the light and air over the decades.

This day in I as wandered around the home with my students I was struck by this one small corner’s glow.  The light was softly diffused by a patch working of  a flower over a spot of torn paper.  The light was my conduit to Japan’s past that has vanished from daily life.

A time before electricity and gas in the home.  A time in which the only light in the home was that that filtered though the washi (和紙) paper, or by small oil lit lamps.  In this tiny corner of a house that time has forgotten on a street that is rapidly vanishing I glimpsed Japan’s past as the light illuminated a corner of my soul.

Lunar Seagull Twilight Waltz

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Moon Seagull Twilight Waltz Over Tokyo Bay

As we get deeper into autumn the twilight creeps up so quickly.  It seems as if the golden moments of the setting sun fade into night.  The moon was out early this evening high in the sky.  Seagulls waltzed under rippled skies.  The luna in all its majesty smiler a happy one as it too watched the aerial display.

Swooping down on its dinner the birds would skim the water.  Looking for that meal so that they could be satisfied.  All under the moons watchful eye.  The more terrestial rippled clouds gave way to a obsidian water.

They danced.  I watched.  The sun continued to set.

 

Oxidizing Borders are Only Temporal in Nature

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Oxidizing Border with Weeds

I came across this bordering adornment in Saitama the other day between two small apartment complexes.  The owner of one of the apartments had lined the property line with small 100 ml steel cans.  They must have been arranged there quite some time ago as most were in various stages of oxidization.  Additionally, weeds sprung out of the tops of a few of the cans.  It was quite a harmonious mixing of Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi, reusing of discarded items, and the beauty of contemporary design.

 

This was the line that should not be crossed, even though it stood little more than a few inches tall.  The border was completely dwarfed by the surrounding multi-storied buildings.

The idea of what is a border began to spin around in my head.  Why do humans choose to mark boundaries?  On this side of the line is what is mine, and on the other is yours.  Will these borders last, or will they crumble into tiny pieces of oxidized dust?

This border will not last.  I wonder if the land owner will find is necessary  to replace these cans when they are no more?

Just some cans, rust and thought from across the border from Tokyo, into Saitama.

 

The Orange Honey Dew Falls

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Fallen Orange Honey Dew

You have to let your nose be your guide, or at least that is what I did.  That sweet fragrance of the the unmistakable kinmokusie ( 金木犀) drifted into my nostrils right before lunch.  My stomach was rumbling wanting to be nourished, but the scent drew me in.

As usual I had no idea where the scent was coming from. I knew it had to be pretty close by.  I wandered around for a bit, and to my astonishment, there were three of the largest orange sweet osmanthus I had ever seen.  The tiny blossoms were bursting all over the trees.  The trees were peeking as I strolled under their branches.

I noticed the the earth had begun to be dotted by them.  Little orange specks were scattered around the roots of the trees.  These little orange drops of fragrant dew had done their mission for the year, and sat patiently on a bed of green ground coverings to seep back into the soil.

The dew has begun to fall, another sign of autumn, and another signal that the crisp air will gradually dip closer and closer to freezing.  For now, I am content just being able to witness such a seasonal sensory festival of aroma.
One Two Three: Golden Honey Fall

Goldenrod Flips

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Goldenrod Burst with Concrete Train Fence

The morning dew hung with a brisk moving stillness.

Wind whipped around my head.

Trying to think of warmer days, summer days, or at least a warmer coat.

Stepping onto the warmer comfort of the bus, I made my way to the back seat.

So thankful for a warm seat, and a window with a view.

The clear rippled skies reflect on the liquid asphalt puddles.

Gazing into the sky, I think to myself, today is a good day.

The goldenrod nodded a greeting in the warm afternoon light.

Bursting with hue, in ways only a weeded flower could.

Today is going to be a good day, I know it to be true.

No matter what may come, the light will shine.

Rising above the nonsense.

Seeking my purpose.

 

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

Broken Windows, 1992, Redux 2012

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Broken Windows, NYC, 1992, Book Cover 2012

This summer was the 20th anniversary of hurricane Andrew slamming into my home of Miami, Florida.  When I wanted to write a piece about the hurricane’s aftermath I led me to open up an old portfolio of mine.  Looking at some of my old hand printed images got me thinking about some of my past projects I completed in my early 20s.  The first one that came to mind was the project Broken Windows.

Broken Windows is a collection of work that I completed in 1992.  All of the photographs were taken using a single use panoramic camera (disposable camera) that had been reloaded and taped up with black gaffers tape.  All of the 35mm images were developed and printed in a wet darkroom.  I took all the images that I had printed and composed a book.  It was limited to an edition 35, and was compiled and printed at my local Kinkos.  At the time that was the only way that was feasible to be able to print, and distribute.  I had always wanted to print a higher quality book, but that was just out of my means at the time.

As we jump forward to 2012, I thought that it was important to revisit this work.  I wanted to understand the photographer that I was in order to navigate the artist I am becoming.  I found my original prints from 1992 and scanned them into my computer.  Thanks to the wonders of Blurb, I was able to print a book that showed the details within each photograph.

the ebook can be downloaded for free from Blurb, Broken Windows ebook

to purchase a book for your library you can follow this link to the Broken Windows on Blurb.

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.

 

Feeling Like Autumn of the Autumn Equinox

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Autumn Equinox Along Kyo Edogawa River

Today is the Autumn Equinox which is a national holiday in Japan.  Even though this holiday falls on a Saturday, buses are running on a holiday schedule and many shops have closed up for the day.

It was the second day in a row that I awoke to some slightly cooler weather.  I was surprised when I stepped out onto my patio that the breeze was cool.  Compared with two days ago when the high reached 34 (93) today it is forecasted for the mercury to go no higher than 26 (78).  I am just loving this change.

I adore the changing of the seasons.  The slowly shortening days.  The way in which the light begins to change each day.  Before we know it the leaves will be reacting and putting on their autumn colors.

I am tied between spring and fall.  Spring gives us the rebirth of the world, whereas autumn readies us for winter.  In many ways they are the opposite of each other, as much as they are the same as each other.

After a long summer, I am ready for some cooler winds to prevail.  I hope that this autumn’s colors rain down on us.

Monochromatic Synthesized Reality

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Kasai Suburban Marsh

Once upon a time there was only monochromatic photography.  The optical-chemical process could only produce a range of tones from white to black.  If color was to be added prints and glass slides needed to be hand tinted.

The photographer’s process of taking the world that surrounded them in full color transformed and removed the reality by stripping away that color and replacing it with tones of gray.

When color film came along in the 1930s photographers could, if they so chose, to photograph the world in color.  However, color photography seemed to be locked into the realm of advertising, and art so called art photography had to be in black and white.

Nowadays photographers have more control over their images than ever before.  Photographers need to be aware that their choices reflect how any image produced is to be perceived.

Why did I shoot this image in color, yet manipulated it into a monochromatic image?  I think in part it added a layer of surrealism to the environment.  The fact of coming across a pond with an island of reeds was just out of place among the asphalt and apartment buildings.  The mood completely changes if I were to present the image in color.

Black and white does not make an image more accessible as art.  It only acts to create a separation from the world we inhabit to the photography we create.

It is a monochromatic synthesized version of reality.

 

Skirting the Typhoon

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Limited Infinity, Kasai Rinkai Park

As the typhoon Sanba passed over Okinawa and headed over to Korea we on honshu were treated to some sporadic sun showers. I spent most of the day on the computer so as the sun was dropping from the sky I hopped on my cycle and headed out towards Kasai Rinkai Park.

The wind was blowing as I crept under the bridge and over to the park.  Today was a holiday in Japan so the park was crowded with families, friends and lovers.  The clouds were moving quickly as they brushed past the horizon.

People were sitting about on the edge of the water watching the spectacle unfold before us all. A beautiful end to a day filled with sunshine, rain, sweet breezes and clouds.

Skirting the Typhoon, Kasai Rinkai Park

Rinkai, Stray to Domesticated Kitty

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Rinkai, Stray Kitty in Process of Domestication

My wife found this little one while we were cycling through Kasai Rinkai Park near our home.   He was so tiny, and sick.  He had a nasty cold and was sneezing all the time.  We took him in and nursed him back to health.

He has about doubled in size since we first took him in.  We haven’t found a home for him yet, or officially given him a name.  Although, I am leaning towards calling him Rinkai.

 

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.

 

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