spring

Can’t Stop Spring

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Late Blooming Cherry Blossom with Bicycles

 

This is the week that the youth of Japan return to school, and if they have already graduated it is the month when new recruits head off to their new jobs. Today in many ways felt like spring.  The morning air was dry and a bit on the cool side for my taste, but it was only a few beats away from a warmer afternoon.

The crossing guards were out in force today making sure that all the little ones made it safely to their classrooms.  They were stationed at busy intersections and crosswalks near schools.  They will soon be replaced by volunteer PTA moms.  For most it is the true beginning of the year.  A chance to make a new path.  A chance to become what they want.

As the day progresses so did the forcefulness of the gusty winds.  They have been steadily increasing in power that I felt if I had a bat cape I could have glided all the way home.

The earth’s cycles cannot be stopped.  The wind will blow the petals from the cherry blossoms, and the dandelions will become puffs balls of seeds scattered across Japan.

 

Break Out Spring

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

A Heart Full Day in Rainy Harajuku

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Heart Full Door, Harajuku

Harajuku is one of those places in Tokyo that I have a real love hate relationship with.  For most wether they are visitors from other countries or the Japanese themselves, Harajuku they love is full of teenage girls and boys playing dress up in and around Takeshita Street. Or the ultra brands like Gucci, Prada, and Luis Vuitton.  Often it is described as the gauge for what is happening in Japan’s fashion world.  For me, this is the part of Harajuku that just gives me the creeps and leaves me feeling empty.

It is too obvious.  Japan, crazy people, wearing lots of crazy clothes.  Being fiercely independent by all dressing alike.  Ok so there are a bunch of overly fashion obsessed kids around here, so now what?

What I actually dig about Harajuku are the little side streets that wind between Harajuku and Shibuya.  This is where cool little houses mingle with the most esoteric boutiques.  On this rainy day I was not disappointed.  I am always amazed that people live within a rock throw of the great teenage hordes.

On this rainy day in May, I still found some love to warm my heart.  A door to someone’s home had been tagged up with hearts.  Many many hearts.  Most of the hearts where smiling at me, so I smiled back at them.

Anyone who has spent a lot of time in Tokyo know that the real Tokyo lies hidden under the gloss of the tour books, and what the Japanese celebrate in their culture too.  The real Tokyo that captivates me is in these little backstreets that no one pays any attention to.  It is here on these wet backstreets that I found a door of hearts.  A door into my own heart.

Flower Full Door, Harajuku

 

Gated Jungle Home, Harajuku

 

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

 

I’m Dreaming of a Pink Friday

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Do Not Cry, It is Must

This Friday was gorgeous.  It all and all  a perfect spring day.  The sun shone so high in the sky that I had to roll up my long sleeves as I took an afternoon stroll.  The dust and pollen filled my nostrils with every breath, but it didn’t matter.  The day soothed my tired body.

Tokyo is on the other side of the cherry blossom peak.  That is when the trees have reached  past their full bloom and now are beginning to shed their pink petals like a snow flurries.  The petals flutter down from the canopies above and dust the ground in their pinkness.  It is a really magical time of year.  A time that seems like it is snowing yet the weather is warm, and the flakes are neither moist or cold.

Wandering through a small neighborhood park I came across some mothers and their children enjoying the last days of the cherry blossoms.  To be so thankful that the winter is over and that we all know the blazing heat of summer is not that far behind.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let us pause.  Take a moment to enjoy the sensation of the ever drifting pink petals.  Fluttering in the wind and landing around our feet.  We will have time enough to attempt to keep cool in the long humid days of summer.

Pink Rabbit under Cherry Blossom Trees

Sekajipo and the Jungle: The Making of the Revolution of the Mind-State Album

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

In this post I will change the focus for a minute back to some images I took last spring in Miami.  These are from some studio sessions for Sekajipo and the Jungle’s debut album The Revolution of the Mind-State.  I was so grateful to meet the ultra talented and down to earth brother Sekajipo.  He is truly a Hip Hop force that is a summation of his experiences that manifest in tight banging lyrics, tinged with reggae chats, and one drop beats.  So without further introductions.  I’ll let Sekajipo introduce himself and the players that make up the Jungle.

Check the website http://sekajipoandthejungle.com/

and you can check sekajipo on facebook

And now Sekajipo

My name is Sekajipo Genes of the Reggae Hop ensemble Sekajipo & The Jungle. These photos were taken at 19 ONE studios in Miami, Fl, during one of the final recording sessions of my debut album the RMS (Revolution of The Mind-State). The artists in these shots have all been leaders in a movement of conscious music, art, and humanitarian work not only in South Florida, but throughout the country and world. It was an honor to be counted as one amongst this collaboration and to be embraced as new comer to the local music scene in Miami, Fl. Much love, respect, and God’s blessings to you all. Keep it Revolutionary – Sekajipo Genes

Sekajipo on the MIC, Making of RMS Album 2010

Sekajipo “…If I die aint no need to write me an obituary just ray the music’ll resurrect me from the cemetery.”  When the Lions in the booth, the Jungle comes alive! Nuff Said! “This is a Revolution, We Are the Demonstration Welcome To The Movement, Here’s Your Invitation!”

LaGuardia, Making of RMS Album 2010

Welcome to LaGuardia World. Fellow Hip Hop Educator, rocked many shows with this brother, One of the dopiest emcees I know, from the stage to the booth. This brother took the energy to another level on the TMVMT track. The Street Fighter Line was classic!

Omayra La Gitana Writing Verses, Making of RMS Album 2010

Omayra La Gitana, a sistren full of spirit and excitement brought her gypsy reggae style vocals to the One World collab track.

Kavayah on the 5 String Bass, Making of RMS Album 2010

Kavayah came through adding some sick bass lines for the TMVMT (The Movement) track.

Kavayah, Making of RMS Album 2010

The “one man band” Kavayah again on acoustic guitar, laying down some solo cuts for One World.

Livin in Amerika, Making of RMS Album 2010

This is THE notebook containing all the RMS lyrics, surviving 5 years of wear and tear its now safely stored away as an accomplished work of art. Ran out of space inside so I started writing the chorus to reggae hop jam “Livin In Amerika” on the back. Every inch of free space counts!

Rhumba King, Making of RMS Album 2010

Urban Artist, Painter and Bboy, Junior aka The Rumba King, the man of many trades,  bringing live percussion to the TMVMT and One World Collaboration.

Vocal Power, Making of RMS Album 2010

Activist, Poet, Author, and good friend in heart, mind, and soul. Maeva the Artist was the inspiration behind One World, she was during her 1st sermon in church and all I could hear was Angels singing “One World, One Love”. Jammed out at a Starbucks, I took a chance singing the chorus and she did the same on her verse. The rest is history!

Soulflower, Making of RMS Album 2010

Sista Soulflower wrote her verse for TMVMT on the spot in the studio and Raize it UP!. 1 time for the female emcees, favorite line from her “Stay Strapped, Bus Back with L.O.V.E.”

Acoustic Drums II, Making of RMS Album 2010

Sean Delaine on drums doin damage to the set! met this brother at a screening on the PATH documentary in Ft. Lauderdale and had to bring him on for this project. Showing love to the future generation of musicians.

Last Minute with Sekajipo, Making of RMS Album 2010

Last minute adjustments to my verse for One World. Striving for perfection even until the last minute! “In this battle to see every last one of us unite, music is the one weapon that we bringing to the fight.”

Final Second with Headphones, Making of RMS Album 2010

Musician, Emcee, and Engineer Final Second in the booth puttin in work as co-producer and featured artist on TMVMT. “The Youth Is The Movement!” Final is also the talent behind the people’s anthem “Hard Times”, which was later chosen as the first single off the RMS album and used for my first ever music video, with an Original Cut and Haiti Re-Cut available on Youtube.

Sekajipo Acoustic Stylings, Making of RMS Album 2010

Me preparing to strum some rhythm guitar on the One World track. 2 years of teaching myself how to play the guitar, never thought it would get to this level. Never be afraid to try something new, you just may be a natural at it! “Im just a man with a guitar and 1 mic, strumming melodies and making the best out of 1 life”

Brimstone127, Making of RMS Album 2010

The man with the master plan DJ Brimstone127! My big brother, friend, mentor, and co producer of the TMVMT track takes on the mantle of engineer for this session as well as the majority of the RMS studio recordings. Couldnt have accomplished this project without you bro!

The Jungle, Making of RMS Album 2010

Soaking it all with some of the artists of The One World/TMVMT collboration at 19 ONE studios. Featuring (from right to left) the one man band Kavayah Amyn (on bass, acoustic guitar, percussion) LaGuardia (vocals) Empress of Hip Hop Soulflower Amyn (vocals) DJ Brimstone127 (engineering, vocals) MaevatheArtist (vocals) Love Revolutionary Sekajipo Genes (vocals), Drea Andrea Sylvester (chilling in the studio providing the irie vibes) and Omayra La Gintana Boriqua (vocals) All in the name of 1 Love.


Overcast, Humid with some Explosive Colors

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

I made my way back to the station in a light drizzle.  I was lucky because as soon as I got to the station the rain just started coming down.  The one amazing thing about rainy, or overcast days as a photographer is the the way the colors come out so saturated.  I guess I should get used to this more because rainy season is just around the corner.

It also seems like the aftershocks have been calming down in the last  two weeks or so.  The was one last night right before going to bed at about 11 p.m.  I’m still worried about the prospect for a large earthquake that could hit much closer to Tokyo, but in the scheme of things I haven’t been loosing sleep over that.

I will continue to take comfort in the flowers that surround my daily comings and goings, and keep my faith that the big one won’t come.  And if it does come, then so be it.  I will be spiritually, mentally, and physically prepared the best I can.

Pachi Pachi Pachi with Wire

18-5 Wall Flowers

Only a Puff of Wind

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

It has been a bit of an emotional week.  From feelings of complete numbness to the loss of family that just tugged at my soul.

For over a month now I have been photographing, almost exclusively, flora and fauna.  I am just transfixed by their ability to thrive, while I and my neighbors have to deal with the everyday stress of just being.  I am thankful for their constant reminder of the beauty and the determination of nature.

Dandelions, a simple beautiful flower to some and just a weed to others.  They are edible and can be eaten as a salad.  After the flowers come and the petals fall all that is left is a little fluff of seeds.  The seeds just wait for a puff of wind to send the seeds out to the world.  To find some crack, soil, or potted plant to grow into next seasons dandelions.  Such a simple mechanism to maintain the dandelions.

I am hopeful that fore seeds of faith, and love will spread out into the world.  The seeds can take root in some of the most obscure places.  Will these thoughts and images of mine find some where to take root.  Will people see the seeds, and make the choice to give them some nutrients and help them grow?

I can only hope so.

Speed those seeds.

From Bud to Just a Puff

Celebrate Life, Not Death

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The weather yesterday was gorgeous.  The sun was bright.  The air was cool and dry.  A slight breeze was blowing through town.  I was thinking to myself how beautiful life can be if you only take the time to enjoy it.  To open our eyes to the world full of pain and sorrow to see that there is beauty in the living world.

I have continued to be completely obsessed with observing the spring.  All the colors that dance with in my sight at every step, anywhere I go these days.  The flowers are survivors.  They are thrivers even in the most difficult of situations.  Their roots reach down and squeeze in between the cracks to seek out the nutrients from the earth, as the colored petals open up to receive the sun’s rays.

It wasn’t until I got back to the station and hopped on the train that I checked the news on my cellphone.  The top story was Osama Bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan.  I had no real emotional reaction to it at that time.  I felt kind of numb.  I felt no joy in the news.

I read through the story and still felt not much of anything.  I wasn’t surprised.  It was as if i was saying to myself, “Ok, now what?”  After the news sank in a bit I began to wonder what is this going to mean in our lives.  Are we truly going to be safer.  I think now.  Now that the number one evil doer in the world has been killed, I thought to myself, what are they now going to use as the poster boy of evil?

I was sadden to see the young Americans out in the street rejoicing in the death of someone.  Even though that someone in no way was a good soul.  My heart tells me that rejoicing in the demise of someone else is just wrong.

I began to think about these young people.  Most of them were of the college years.  They were just children when 911 happened.  They know nothing than what the media has been feeding them over the last 10 years.  In the words of my friend Jerry Kolber It saddened my heart to see them “celebrating as if we had won the world series of baseball!”

We, as human beings, should celebrate LIFE, not death.  Life is worth living.  Life is worth more that all the billions spent in the name of war.  We should celebrate life, the happiness in our lives.  The color and joys that fill up our days.  At the same time we need to be vigil and remember the great incalculable cost to kill one man.

So I choose life.  I will celebrate life, not death.  We cannot let hatred rule our lives, because hate will only breed more hate.  Love can conquer hate, but it is the more difficult way.

For me the flowers and their hues are life.  I celebrate the joy that they bring to my heart.  Let your hearts be open to love to dispel the hate.

One Love

from Tokyo

Dancing Orange Blossoms

Yellow Up Between the Pavement

Love Life in Yellow

Terraced Gardening in Kasai, Keeping in Touch with Nature

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

The wind is howling with the threat of some heavy rain to come later in the day.  The clouds of dust and sand just are twirling around in the air.  I grabbed my camera to hit the neighborhood  before the rain hits.

I love the way my neighbors squeeze so many plants into tiny spaces.  There is no wasted space in our neighborhood gardens.  The potted plants crowd corners, spread across the entrance ways to little backstreet shops. I guess living in this urban sprawl we all try to stay in touch with our agrarian roots.  We want to be able to get our hands dirty with earth.  To help bring forth some color in beauty in what sometimes can be overwhelming times.

The plants, flowers, and gardens are there to remind us of our delicate relationship with the natural world.  We have been given dominion over the living world, but this does not mean we can exploit it.  We must act as protectors and nurturers of the natural world.

Plant those seeds, and watch them grow.  Give them the love that they need then we all can appreciate.

planting seeds….

Terraced Flower Garden, Minami Kasai

Step Up Garden with Hose, Minami Kasai

Barbershop Garden with Gnomes, Minami Kasai

Another Week, Time to Give Thanks

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Another week has come to a close here in Tokyo.  The week that was filled with dust, dirt, and pollen.  The air was playing hell with my allergies.  I tried to do the Japanese way of wearing a surgical mask, but that helped just a bit.

I am thankful for making it to another shabbat.  The time that has been set aside for reflection and rest.  To look back on the week, and be thankful for what we have.  And I am truly thankful.  I am thankful for my friends and family being safe and in good health.  I am thankful for all the beauty that surrounds my lens.  The flowers are a constant reminder of the change that is brewing here in japan.  The change that needs to happen for this society to overcome all of their difficulties.  I hope that they too will stop to take heed of this beauty, and let the colors inspire them to reach higher than they have ever before.

It is time to put away petty differences.  It is time to see the good in the world and time to put away childish selfish ways.  The glory bubble times are long gone.  It is time to sober up and put forth conversation, and real inclusive unity rather than just for show.

So to all of you, I ask that you in your works, take time to pause, and reflect.  Stop and look up high into the sky and watch the clouds dance across.  Stop, and look at your feet and see the little blooms that are scattered at your feet.

The earth will shake, the rain will fall, and we will be here, being thankful for the life that we are given.

Peace from Tokyo.

Junglefied Front Garden

Wisteria in the Neighborhood

Potted Step Up

Stepping into the Violet

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I admit it.  I am completely utterly flower obsessed this spring. I have always had an appreciation for the spring but this year it has taken on life changing proportions.  The situation in Japan, in a larger picture the state of the world, has forced me to look at my situation and see what needs changing.  What are the things that need to change?

Change is a life long process.  I can not be happy with my past accomplishments but I must strive to seek out new accomplishments.  I must challenge my lens to seek out other worlds.  I do not know where my lens will lead me next, but I am sure wherever I end up it is where I am suppose to be.

Come, step into the violet, with me.

Down the Violet

Things are Coming Along

Monday, April 25th, 2011

I spent the morning helping some friends rebuild their garden that had been covered in a layer of icing like mud after the liquefaction in Shin Urayasu.  The day was a gorgeous spring day.  The sun was shining brightly yet the air was crisp and just a tad cool.  It felt good to both help out and just to be out in the sun.

Sometimes I really miss having a yard with trees, plants, and a garden like I had growing up in Miami.  Here in Tokyo and it’s suburbs there is little space for gardening.  Homeowners get very creative with their use of space, and create elaborate gardens in the most minuscule of areas.

As I wandered a bit around the Shin Urayasu neighborhood, I did notice that it was a lot less dusty than two weeks ago.  More of the silt has been removed, along with a few days of some heavy downpours have helped to clear the air.

People are out and about taking care of their homes and all in all after six weeks things are coming along nicely.

The spring colors keep pushing me forward.  I am compelled to show all the colors that the world has to offer.  The bright spots that standout on a sunny day like yesterday.  With all the worries of the world, I can loose myself within the simple beauty of color.

One Out of a Town

Orange Ones, Drying Ones

Flowershine on a Cloudy Day

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The purple evening skies of yesterday continued over to today.  The clouds hung low, and the colors were allowed to develop into such rich hues.

I have been wearing a surgical mask when I go into Shin Urayasu for two reasons.  Firstly, my hay fever has been atrocious, a secondly the dust just blows around with no place to go.  I kind of hate when I am wearing the mask, and my glasses fog up, but I guess it is better than being all full of sniffles and sneezes.  However, today the pollen was so strong the mask didn’t make any difference.

I am amazed at some of the pathways and sidewalks in Shin Urayasu.  Because of the liquefaction on some parts they just became piles of bricks, and others, they rhythmically all tilted by 15 degrees.  It was by watching the paths that led me to a Cherry Blossom tree at an entrance to a townhouse like development.  The voluptuous pink blossoms were such a contrast to the dirt filled sidewalk along the main street.  It was so tranquil and seemed so far removed from all the construction going on just meters from this tree.

It again reminded me of the dual nature of the society we are living in.  We are so desperately wanting to return to a stable home life, but the constant aftershocks, the construction, and the Fukusshima nuclear power plant are all there like a fog that wont break up in the morning sun.  Yet, here there was this tree.  It paid no difference to the dust, construction or other worries.  All the tree knew was that it was spring and it was time to bring forth it’s blossoms.

As I continued to make my way home, I caught another flower.  This time it was just a weed.  It was growingly  singularly in some space between a wall and the sidewalk I was on.  The flower just appeared to be shinning.  It was radiating warm light that filled my lens to with warmth.  This images just sandwiched my day.  The tranquil to the mundane.  All full of beauty and full of such promise.

Cherry Blossom and Brick Pathway

Aubergine Tree, Shin Urayasu

Flowershine on a Cloudy Day

One Orange Wonder

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Other than the 4 a.m. aftershock this morning the day went by pretty smoothly.  The air was damp and it rained on and off all night.  The skies were gray when I hopped on the train to make my way into Chiba.  The lights are still off on the trains in a massive effort to save electricity.

On my way back to the station the air was chilled, but the sun was out.  I paused in front of a house to stare at this enormous orange flower.  It was there reaching up towards the warm sun.  Strong in spirit.  Bending little in the breeze.  It is my orange wonder.  A strong warrior among the concrete, and potted plants of Ichikawa.

One Orange Wonder

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