Elementary schools were given colorful streamers for children to write down their good wishes for the world. Phrases like, “I want everyone in the world to try hard with a smile”, “May good feelings and smiles all over the world increase”, “All the children of the world come together and make a peaceful world”. These were hung down different streets (from those on my previous post). Being of lighter paper they fluttered more in the breeze providing a sound like leaves and the reflected light of dozens of rainbows with the children who made them near, playing in the streets. And there, alone, perhaps resting, was a very dour older lady in monochrome.
From the seventies Japan amassed much of it’s garbage into a landfill used to reclaim land from the sea. By the late 80’s the site was full and work began to turn this landfill into a new part of the metropolis — Odaiba. Before it was heaped full of excess and waste Odaiba used to be series of small rocky crags that housed the cannons which keep the West out of Japan. Of those original islets only two or three remain are filled in with the waste as people threw out the old and bought the new during the long bubble period. Now Odaiba is home to Japan’s technological growth including the Miraikan, dormitories for international exchanges, vast shopping areas, luxury high rises and green acreage. The bridge which connects Tokyo to Odaiba is the Rainbow bridge (pictured here). Odaiba also houses Fuji TV, Japan’s largest TV network (the oddly shaped building below), which should be said helps shape the image of Japan for Japanese people.
(Another post which should have been uploaded while I was on holiday.)
I’m doing my morning cruise around the blogosphere and while reading this new blog (with great tips and discussion) I’m redirected to another site with a click. Because I live in Tokyo the approach of how to represent it especially appeals. It’s inspiration and I wanted to share.
When I was a boy I often went to Knott’s Berry Farm. There was a ride that took you though neon colored scenes, florescent nightscapes, and day glow characters. Those bright hues on black have always appealed to me. Vibrancy, I’m attracted to the energy and otherworldliness made from these kinds of colors.
Every town has someone like this. In a city of 42 million we have a few. What do you notice first? The thrilling fashion sense? The daring glasses? The perky breasts? It wasn’t until I came home and looked at the images that I noticed the decals. What I quickly dismissed as crazy — and tried really hard not to stare at — is actually a protest calling for the Abe government to not expand the military. How could I have missed such a clear message?
This is the before and after for my hair cut.
I loved having long hair but when it dries I can’t do much with it, so before my holiday began I visited my カリスマ美容師 (they call top stylists Charisma Stylists) in Aoyama. I love my hairstylist and the salon: There are only two women working in the whole place — and 50 stylists. My stylist is awesome. His name is Fuyuki and I’ve been seeing him for a few years, but I stopped coming for about 10 months to grow my hair. The look in his eyes when he saw me, I was like a new toy.
Cut, cut, thin, think, thin, cut, step back and come back to it. He’s an artist and works mainly with magazine models — and that ladies and gentlemen, along with all the support staff, is why I pay about 150USD to get my haircut.
The last pic is me this weekend.
On long strips of brightly colored paper couples, parents, children write their wishes then tie them to long bamboo poles which hang in the breeze over several days or weeks, totaling in the hundreds of thousands. Imagine all the wishes in the world made visible. Walk along the long city blocks and stop to read them as you please. I feel quite blessed to live in a place and at a time that almost every wish I read is for the happiness of another.
I got back the other evening on a late shinkansen. I walked into my home, immaculately clean, lay fresh sheets on the bed, took and shower and slept for sixteen hours uninterruptedly.
I had set 15 posts to upload here automatically during my holiday, expecting to chime in from time to time with “cellphoneography”, but they stopped self-posting. I apologize for that. Once I started island hopping keeping a charge in my i-devices became a battle, so I shut down all mail and anything push; used the cell camera when the taking out the Nikon was impossible; and used the remaining charge to find accommodation. As I was planning each day as it came, and traveling during peak season, finding a place to stay ended up more of a challenge than I anticipated. The point being I was frustrated to log back in today and see all these posts in a queue.
I have thousands of photos to sift through from my holiday. A large part of this trip was learning how to work my camera, to see what I can do with it. I do have some exceptional shots I’ll eventually get around to sharing but for now I’ll leave you with a post that should have uploaded a while ago.
This is a photo I took during a Tanobata celebration. Ultimately, crowds can be isolating. Being different within the crowd is an opportunity.
I’m exhausted but my day was just too good. I wanted to share a little of the beauty with you.
I was in Tanegashima, regrettably just for the day. The island is pristine. The people among the kindest I’ve ever met. It’s a perfect balance between modern and untouched. It’s remote location has prevented it from becoming spoiled by tourism — and if you see the beaches and get in the water you’ll wonder, like me, why it’s it’s relatively untouched.
Oh, it also houses the Japanese space program.
I am a man. I rarely ask for directions, I nod assent even when I don’t fully understand, and I endeavor to not show pain. (Imagine Hulk pose.)
I went hiking today in the wettest part of Japan in shoes one size too small, without proper gear. How did that happen? See one and two above.
Pain? The hike up was HARD. Eventually it rained and I was soaked to the skin, which made the rocks slippery on the way DOWN. My toes jammed into the front of the shoes and practically brought tears to my eyes with each step . I made friends I walked with on the way down, slipped and fell FOUR times. But I’m a guy: Skinned knees, aching feet and a twisted ankle and not a single complaint.
I’m also an online guy and I need to say #%#%%%#%#%#%##%%%#% ouch!
(The dessert is bate and switch. Would you have clicked on a post with my feet? It’s a Japanese snow cone called kakigori, btw. My next accommodation should have wifi. I’m going to try and read blogs and answer comments then.)
I have yet to see one day of sunshine this trip. I left late on Friday. As I walked to my hotel in Okayama drizzle fell which built up in intensity (as typhoons approached but never made landfall) culminating in a new kind of weather event in Japan. There is no translation. They are bands of heavy rain which dump inches in minutes causing mudslides and flash floods. That was Thursday and it was surreal.
I was touring a castle in Nagasaki-ken when a city wide siren announced it was coming. Within a minute a faucet opened over the city. If I could see it, I would have seen a river running down the road into the moats or down into the sea. The news said FIFTY centimeters fell that day.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m enjoying my vacation. Wet surfaces photograph beautifully; the sky has texture; and the people wear a different countenance.
Yesterday a new typhoon approached Japan and this morning it hit. Trains were shut down in this coastal onsen town, Ibusuki, with almost all business shuttered. My hotel had emptied the pool and sandbagged the perimeter. I decided to go out, making my way to the coast snapping pics of the clouds, of buildings, of boats bobbing in the harbor. When I sensed the rain was coming I made my way quickly to a covered arcade which leads to the train station. The full length as boarded up with branches flung about. The sky nearing black. And then the sirens sounded throughout the city. There was no message within the sound. Loud: It drowned the sound of the wind. But it wouldn’t stop — and then I knew.
This was the moment 69 years ago the bomb fell on Nagasaki.
The typhoon missed my area. The rains did fall. I did make it back to be under the station roof, but they stopped shortly after and I continued my walk up and down the streets. I arrived back at my hotel in time to photograph hawks circling over the ocean, of families walking the beach, and a fantastical sunset you’ll have to wait to see.
Tomorrow going to be sunny and I’m island hopping down to Okinawa.