Tag Archives: japan

Japan – before I knew I liked taking photos: Part II

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“Culture in the sum of all the forms of art, of love, and of thought, which, in the course of centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved”~Andre Malraux

My previous post highlighted my time in Shizuoka. This one has photos from my first 6 months in Japan. I landed in Osaka in 2001. Young, alone and ready for adventure. Ready to be immersed in modern Japanese culture.

It is a great place to first go to due to its proximity to some of the Japan you would be familiar with from movies etc.

When I was first in Osaka, I was a little overwhelmed by its vastness and ugliness. This was short-lived. I found lots of beauty in that concrete jungle: There was the roof-top Shinto shrine I spied out the window of the building I worked in. One day a work mate took me to some Botanical gardens. We just lay on a blanket and looked up at the trees, enjoyed the serenity and silence that was a huge contrast to, say, walking down Shinsaibashi with a million other people.

I found that the bottom of the OCAT building was a popular place for break-dancers to practice at night time. They did the most amazing synchronised dancing.

I travelled to Kobe at Christmas time and sipped a Gingerbread latte while looking at the Illuminarie, a beautiful light tribute to all that perished in The Great Hanshin Earthquake.

In Kyoto, a short train ride from Osaka, I saw some classic Japanese images: Maiko on the streets, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Gion, temple after temple after temple. I even took part in a traditional tea ceremony.

In the depths of winter I stayed in a Buddhist monastery at Mount Koya. It was 6 below INSIDE when the monks woke me for morning prayer at 5am. A new definition of cold was born for me in those mountains.

And in a strange juxtaposition to the horrors associated with the place, Hiroshima has the most beautiful and serene park I have ever visited in its memorial gardens.

Just before I moved to Shizuoka I was lucky enough to go to the Spring Sumo Tournament. WOW.

All of this captured on a point and shoot, non-zooming Pentax film camera. I can’t wait to go back there with my digital SLR. I can’t wait to take my children to see this amazing country.

      

      

      

   

   

Japan – before I knew I liked taking photos: Part I

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“In Japan they say,
Cherry blossoms mean it’s spring.
But it’s not spring here”~ Shellie (Haiku)

It is certainly not Spring here. I’m a whole hemisphere away, in the opposite season.

I lived in Japan a while. I saw so many amazing things. When I first went to Japan in 2001 I had this Pentax, point and shoot film camera. It did not zoom. It had a flash that would take it’s sweet time charging up. I had no real idea of it’s focal distance. I had no idea what focal distance really meant!!

In the middle of 2002 I got a digital camera. It was a Cannon Powershot A40. I still have this camera. It doesn’t work anymore, but the kids play with it. I took some alright photos with that camera. It was pretty decent. But most of the photos I took in Japan were on that old Pentax film camera. I remember being amazed when I took it to be developed at a). How cheap is was to print photos in Japan and b). How cool it was that you could get the photos on CD for a small extra fee!! Radical!

Here are the first of some of my Japan photos. I didn’t do any editing. They are all as shot on either the Pentax film camera or the amazing 1.9 megapixel technology of my first ever digital camera. Just looking through them brought back so many memories. In the 8 years I have been back in Australia some of the finer details of my time in Japan had escaped me.

Like how the sunset looked out of my bedroom window. Of exactly how Mt Fuji looked from my kitchen sink (partially obscured). How I would ride my bike to the other station in Shizuoka so I could sit and look at Mt Fuji while I waited for my train to work. The guy on the scooter that had a monkey and a dog in the front basket. The old guys that used to play chess (maybe chess…probably not chess) at the bottom of the little mountain near my house. The day I decided to climb that little mountain! The Izakaya we used to always go to. The time I went camping in the mountains and found the AMAZING sunflower fields.

Ahhhh, Japan. These photos are all taken from my time in Shizuoka which is on the coast near the base of Mt Fuji, south of Tokyo. I lived there the longest. I also lived in Osaka before this, but I’ll save those pictures for another day. They are truly funny.

            

      

      

      

Shadow Over Japan

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“Yo, Nihon Action——–> sorry I didn’t get to catch up with you after….. trains to catch, J-pop stars to lust after. You know how it is J-stylees. Get your butt down to Shizuoka so we can catch up again….. and perhaps climb that frickin’ mountain or go to the Hamamatsu Festival (also know as ‘The Little Men with Big Angry Kites Festival’) at the start of May.” Me….???? What the hell???

>>So, I was trying to sort through my ever filling up hardrive again and came upon more wriitng from when I lived in Japan.

It is an email that I had saved as a draft but not actually sent (or maybe I did sent it). It had some personal messages to people that I didn’t understand (can’t for the life of me remember Nihon Action…???)

The pictures were taken on my Samsung mobile phone. That’s right, waaaay back in 2003 Japanese people were rocking the camera phones.

This one is pretty funny to me. The way I write is very Younger Me. But I still remember how amazing that night was.

April 25th, 2003 T O K Y O , J A P A N

On Tuesday April 25th I made the journey east, leaving the safe coven of my small mountainside city, and ventured to the Godzilla infested Tokyo.

The cause was well worthy————-> Tokyo Bay Hall (next to Disneyland…ohh yeah) was playing host to MASSIVE ATTACK and DJ SHADOW.

There flocked lots of fUnKeD up Japanese youth (and a fair few foreigners, I dare say) and of course two lovely country Victorian girls, namely Clare and Kate.

So, I met up with Clare and we spent a lovely arvo in Shinjuku and Harajuku realising that Yellow Fever is a serious illness (and that there are a lot of hotties in that part of town).

Sorry. BACK TO THE BEATS.

What is a good arena concert if there isn’t a little mission impossible action?

After going to my second floor seat in the NOSE BLEED section, I realised that in the best interests of my musical growth (and we all know it is ALL about the music), I would need to get down on the 1st floor.

It wasn’t so hard, really. I just played the ‘I don’t speak Japanese’ card (it is a lame and terrible excuse but my judgment was clouded by the anticipation of some seriously cool music) and disappeared into the crowd.

Shadow was the man: scratchin’ it up and shakin’ his booty over 5 decks, there was a bit of Bjork in there and even some Handsome Boy Modeling School (holy calamity, scream insanity, all you ever gonna be is another great fan of me- BREAK!). Not to mention the mad video console mix-up he did at the end…………

My sources have suggested that young Clare might possibly have spent most of it, if not all of it, getting sloshed in the bar…….

Massive Attack really did rock the arena with their classic guitar solos mixed with wicked live and sampled beats, not to forget the mind-altering vocals.

The visuals were wIcKeD. It was a bit like their new web page, they had all this weird computer terminal window stuff going on (ahh…100th window) that was WAY COOL.

Most impressive and nice to see was that they had been custom made for Japan (it is the small things that are most appreciated).

Basically, it was just farkin’ brilliant.