2014 into 2015 and Life Just Keeps Rolling

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

January 2nd Good WIshes 2015, Hachimanjingu Shrine (1 of 1)



The Gregorian calendar ticked over from 2014 to 2015.  One number now has become a new number.  Most see it as a chance to renew and hope for something better.  We dissect bits time into pieces that are manageable.  Seven days into a week.  Thirty days become a month.  Twelve months are a year.  We humans like the idea of a year.   We toss out the old, with the hope of filling the new with something better.

my 2014, like many others, was full of highs and lows.  Sometimes the lows are overwhelming and appear as if they will never end.  For us, and myself in particular, I need to focus in on the highs, even if they are just a small one.

Some of the highest heights of 2014 in no particular order.  I will let them flow out in a stream of consciousness.

•traveling the Caribbean with my extended family.

•meeting up with the photographic soul brother Giovanni in NYC. Taking large format images, and developing them in coffee.

•working with my wife in our patio garden.

•rescuing a kitty off a rooftop next to our home. (she became known as Roofy).

•cycling from my home to Skytree and back again.

•witnessing Nisan graduate from the Asian Rural Institute before she headed back to Myanmar.

•cooking most shabbats for my family.

•getting over a million views on Flickr.

•wife getting over the flu, and me over a sinus infection and still making it to the hot spring in Nasu, Tochigi, Japan

•guiding my brother Jerry on his first visit to Japan.

There are more.  There are many lows too, but I honestly try not to dwell on them.  Life’s sweet moments wouldn’t have that same flavor if we didn’t have those pains that slice into our soul.

On a January 2nd we headed into Tokyo for the annual hatsumode, going to a shrine or a temple for the first time in the new year.  Japan celebrated the lunar New Year before modernizing in the Meiji Era. After midnight on the 31st we usually cycled over to our local shrine and sipped some hot nihonshu (sake) or amazake after a moment of asking for a safe New Year.  Out of nowhere this year my wife decided to go to one of the larger shrines that she had never visited before, Hachiman Jinjyu in Yoyoogi, Tokyo.

All buses and trains are running on a holiday schedule as people make trips to visit relatives or shrines.  A short distance front he station and up a flight of stone steps the line began.  Shrine volunteers helped keep the line orderly as people kept on arriving.

Being the observer I just tried to take it all in.  The sights, sounds and scents of the new year.  People drop off their old amulets to be burned by the shrine and purchase new ones.  Coins are tossed into worn wooden boxes, as hands clap and bells rattled.

All and all a good day out on a short winter day.

We are never as alone as we may feel. We are never as low as we might fall.  I wish all good health and wishes for the coming year.  Let it be one that we regain our personal then our communal humanity.

much love!



The Line Up at Hachimanjingu Shrine, 2015



Inari Shrine Line Up with Flags at Hachimanjingu Shrine, 2015



The last Shrine at Hachimanjingu Shrine, 2015

Analog Slowdown in Kyoto

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Dusk on the Bamboo Path Above Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto


It has been more than 10 years since I lasted visited Kyoto.  I was there with my wife and my parents as we explored the city.  There have been shifts in the way I see the world; especially in the way I photograph the world.

Photography is my path to understand our world.  It is not only a way to remember, but more importantly it is the way in which I connect to our world.

I was looking froward to wandering the streets, shrines, and temples with my oldest friend, Jerry.  I was nervously anticipating how I would react and photograph Kyoto.  My approach to photography has grown since that visit with family 10 years ago.

What really surprised me is actually how few pictures I took.  Even though this collection were all taken on a film Contax T3 camera, even the way in which I shot my Ricoh was sparingly.  Images are precious.  I shot my digital in much the same way I used to shoot film and now I shoot film as if it was treasure.

After photographing for more that 30 years I know what I want.  It was fascinating to see without having to snap the shutter.  I enjoyed being in the lovely space of Kyoto.

Eventually there is a limit to how much one can take in of the city.  It is a must to be on foot as much as possible.  There are the “must see” places like Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion Temple), Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion Temple) each renewed for the opposing Japanese aesthetics.

The most moving Kyoto treasures were the smaller less visited places like Honen En (Temple) or the completely amazing Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shrine) were we wandered around at dusk to the early evening.  Entering into a special space that was as creepy as it was refreshing.

I still know I have only scratched the surface of this city but, on each visit I come tiny step closer to understanding it.

As always there is more to come.



Double Drinking Felines, Kyoto



Walking the Dragon at Nanzenji, Kyoto



Outside Gingakuji (Silver Paviion) Street, Kyoto



By the Rivers of Arashiyama, Kyoto



Royanji Temple Rock Zen Garden Corner, Kyoto

All Nature is Sacred

Friday, June 14th, 2013

All Trees are Sacred to Earth


In the indigenous Shinto faith of Japan sacred natural objects are marked by tying a twisted or braided rope around them.  This signifies that they hold a special place in the faith.  They are natural objects that hold the spirits of the land.  They could be trees, rocks, mountains, and even waterfalls.

I appreciate the reverence of nature in the Shinto faith, but I also have some troubles with it.  Nature is worshiped by some practitioners as a god.  I for one do not subscribe to this belief; because, for me there is one and Only one God.  All nature flows and is possible because of the One God.  I am thankful that I live in a country and grew up in another one that allows people to follow and worship as they see.   I know that all nature is scared, and humans should work to protect the nature we have.  We shouldn’t just preserve a tree here and there as a memory for the wilds that once spread over the land.

For without nature we will not be able to nourish our bodies and souls.  If humans allow our land to be ravaged by industry we are doomed to perish.  In genesis 1:28 we are commanded to have dominion over the earth.  I read this in that we have to be it’s caretakers.  We are not to brutally destroy the earth as some have interpreted.  We are the ones responsible for its care.  We must be the ones to call out for justice because the animals cannot.

We must not forget that we came from the earth.  We might be living in a technological bubble and have contact with the earth, but it is never to late to establish those connections.  We are only capable of being fully human when we are caring for our communal world.

Let us be the caretakers of the earth.  We are here for only a short time; therefore, let us strive to make the world a healthy thriving planet.


The Way, Meijijingu Path

Reflecting in Meiji Jingu Shrine Garden

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Sun Gazing Meiji Jingu Shrine Garden


In the heart of Tokyo lies a quiet space uninterrupted by the hustle of Harajuku and the fast paced life that Tokyoites step too.  A space where old man pause, take off their hats, and bow in reverence to the once great Emperor Meiji.

Large wooden Tori (Gates) separate the profane from the scared space of Meiji Jingu Shrine.  I have been several times, and I often bring guests to this space to experience some of the traditional Japanese culture.

My friend and I reasoned on a variety of topics as we wandered the garden.  Pausing here and there to reflect on the beauty of the garden.  Manicured spaces that would lead the eye around from bush to tree, to the pond in the middle of the garden.

Slices of reflections accumulations of all that came before and all that is to come.  The water shone back into myself.  The clear bubbling spring was a moment in which I could allow that water that sprung from the deep earth to enter into my consciousness.  Standing on a few perfectly placed flat stones peering over and into the spring, I was one with my surroundings.

Reflecting, reflected, reflections, moments in a progression of our lives.


Meiji Jingu (Shrine) Clear Spring Well, Self Portrait

White Koi Meiji Jingu Shrine Garden

Oh My Meguro

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

I have spent lots of time wandering around Naka Meguro in Tokyo, but I have never really walked around Meguro area until yesterday. I was heading to see the photographic show by my friend Nasa and seven other female photographers, and to and from the gallery I had no choice but to wander around and take some images.  Meguro is an interesting area, that I should return to to explore a bit more.  So, for now it is OH MY MEGURO!

Shrine Side, Meguro

Draw Four Bush

Topped Off With Bush

Meguro Greater Mouse Trap

Gas Heat Pump

Midnight New Years Eve

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

The annual pilgrimage to the shrines and temples of Japan, begins just after the stroke of midnight on December 31.  I never venture far, and I prefer to go to the one that is closest to my house.  The same shrine my family has been visiting for years.  Warm sake, and amazake are served to those who have waited in the cold to say the first prayers of the new year.

Burning Away the Bad Fotune

Temple Gate, One Stroke before 2010

Fireman Photographing the Bonfire

First Prayers of the New Year, 2010

What a Line Up, 2010

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