so last friday i went to kamakura, an hour south of tokyo. it used to be the capital of japan way back in the day… it is a really chill beach town steeped in history with tons of temples.
this statue is probably the most epic thing ive seen in japan, it is the ofuna kannon, a statue and icon for world peace
you have to climb a giant hill to get up to it
this is what it basically looks like from the train, which adds to the sheer epicness of it.
there were alot of surfers out, even though there was only like a barely 1 foot swell
lush and green!
sweet cave. i dedicated a little statue to all my friends and family. as a side note, there is this other temple in kanagawa, which is really sweet. its called tamagawa daishi. basically, you go down into this cave tunnel and its pitch black, you follow it, tracing your hand along the wall and you come into a few lighted sections with shrines and stuff, and there are these bells going off, its really trippy and epic. anyways…
most. adorable. buddha ever.
second biggest buddha in japan
why is this sign in old english?
school kids backpacks are awesome
it would be sweet to rent a beach house in this town
well, im pretty sure that today i witnessed/experienced my most bizarre japanese experience…. the kawasaki penis festival.
kanawara matsuri.. explained by wikipedia
The Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) is an annual Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan in spring. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The penis forms the central theme of the event that’s reflected everywhere; in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decoration, a parade of mikoshis, etc.
The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine, once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is said that there are divine protections also in business prosperity and the clan’s prosperity, easy delivery, marriage, and married couple harmony, etc. Today, the festival is used to raise money for HIV research. There’s also a legend of a demon that hid inside a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights before a blacksmith fashioned an iron phallus that was used to break the demon’s teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.
bizarre. here are the photos
i didnt get the impression that this was a homosexual event, although i witnessed alot of latently homosexual action… and alot of women posing dirtily with penis lollipops and a giant wooden penis..
this wheelchair laden dude had a giant wooden phallus coming out of his pants. he gave me a high five
these guys were really stoked to carry the giant steel phallus mikoshi (みこし）
really stoked on a giant metal penis
this guy had a really big phallus with him
one of the shrines
the metal shrine people were dressed in traditional japanese clothes, but the big pink people were mostly dressed in womens clothing
the big pink crowd was way more obtuse… at least the big metal crowd was pretty subtle… as far as big penis sculptures go
scary mask dude preceding the phallus parade
man this festival was gaijin city! i couldnt get any good shots in the crowd until i joined them
this was for sure the weirdest day in japan… shinto is bizarre
there were penis lollipops, lets just leave it at that.
Hey! Its time to look at cherry blossoms! Sakura rules! Hanami is the excellent time of the year when Japanese get drunk under the cherry blossoms!
this bike is awesome
in shinjuku you have to wait like an hour for krispy kreme
so i went on a holga spree the last few weeks past because of this weird thing called…. uh how do you call it… springtime?… thats right! super gorgeous days which often happened to fall on weekends… here are the best parts ps: ilford fp4 film rules! ive never had a favorite film before! its a pillar of meat eminating out of the grossest canal ive ever seen… right now theres this dam type thing that just collects all the waste in the canal… i have to walk past it every day on the way from the station to school and if i look at it i gag for like 10 minutes…. it doesnt help that the bridgey thing says welcome and that theres a pillar of meat coming out of the river… tokyo is a pretty clean city, but man urban situations can get really gross really fast.this my he-bro adam… not a terribly flattering potrait, but we are brothers in adonai… he makes that face alot…. just for, you know a split second while transitioning between facial expressions, not permanently as recorded here… ps: i really want to be a mod and ride in a vespa gang of slim cut italian suits… and pork pie hats…. wanna start a slim cut italian suit vespa riding gang?i wish this photo came out in focus…. the street name, if said very quickly in english transliteration, sounded like “oh my gosh…. cho” in katakana… the whole roll sucked… way to go seth, end the post on a sucky, but not entirely sucky note…. so believe it or not, the biggest draw to this blog is the google search of “baby polar bear” because i once put “baby polar bear” in my entry about the yasukuni jinja. it is by far the most popular entry, because people search for “baby polar bear”. i wasnt going to do it, but now i am… baby polar bear! and how about wet baby rabbit while we are at it… actually fuck it, heres another baby polar bear (my cash cow, im getting like 8 hits a weeks off this!) heres the wet bunny just for show and a couple of ducklings (i did not take the last 3 photos/1 video, but i wish i had. thanks to cuteoverload.com) puppy in a sleeping bag!?
part two of a double header! (can you tell that im stoked about japanese baseball season starting?? im so stoked!!! im not sure why though because i dont really care about sports… but recently ive had some relapse into some kind of affection for baseball… its really big here and baseball games are super fun and nostalgic for me… i digress)
holga roll around my neighborhood…. go!
oh man, scanning film negatives is so much fun!
guinea pigs at the childrens petting zoo
you dont know much pride i derive from living in a neighborhood that owns a flamingo. a flamingo that is facing off with a goose everyday.
right outside my alley… rockin nakajuku-dori
a wonderful sight to behold… a kirin delivery truck… although i like asahi better…
hands. and haircuts.
man school kid uniforms are super adorable… and they all have these backpacks that rule… imagine having a specific backpack to go with your uniform… wild!
goose showin off its stuff
this is a rare occurance… a double exposure that totally works… it looks like these goats are drinking out of this empty swimming pool… i really dig this shot
sheep at the free public petting zoo… my neighborhood rules. they are kinda dirty, but i think they are pretty well taken care of.
thanks for hanging out… stay posi.
check out these photos i found from last semester that somehow never made it to the b to the l to the o to the g… first part of a double header! ive just been hecka busy with school and it also helped that last semester i had to take photos for school….
Yesterday I went to Nihon Minka-en at the behest of my Dad. It turned out that my dad was totally right. The Japanese Farmhouse Museum is cool!! here are my shots…
this is an indigo dying shop
this is a multi holed basket to distract the feb 8 cyclops. the many holes convince the cyclops that there are more than one eye-d monsters around.
this is a warehouse that is elevated.. there is an iron band at the top of the stilts that prevents rats frim getting into the grain storehouse…. genius!!
so, this is ridiculously late… i have been slackin on the blog/photo tip big time! it is a tedious process to convert all the photos into jpegs and then post each photo from flickr to here individually… it takes hours. i have 118 new photos on my flickr site, you can just look at all of them there. it would take forever to post them all on here.
this is totally going to be out of chronological order as well…
first i went to kyoto, then to fukuoka.
i got to make mochi with some old ladies and a guy. they were different then the mochis i usually eat, filled with some sweet bean filling instead of ice cream. it turns out that i am not a terribly proficient new years mochi roller, but i got some good shots and i’ll let you guys in on the process. these mochi are a traditional new years snack.
first you steam the rice
then you spin it around until it turns into dough….
then you squeeze out a little ball of dough
you roll it around in your palms and throw it onto this tray….
then you grab a ball of this bean stuff and put it in the middle of the rolled ball and roll it around again….
then you are done and ready to package it to give out to people and eat yourself
photos of fukuoka
kyushu is a beautiful island! i didnt take any photos of hakata city, which was a pretty big city, but i was staying at a bhuddist temple about 30 minutes outside of town and it was really nice out there.
so there actually wasnt a temple at the temple… it was torn down because it was a couple hundred years old and they are rebuilding it. but my friends former host parents are buddhist priests and the house is next to the temple.
this is the foundation of the new temple
this is the bell tower.
this is the auxillary bell… its a couple hundred years old
this is the mausoleum where peoples ashes are stored
behind the house is a bamboo forest with a trail going up the hill
i found a shrine on the top of the hill
this is the view from the top of the hill
we got fed tons of food in fukuoka every night, it was wild!
we ate at my friends high school friends house… this meal was wild… the hibachi stuff… the best fried chicken wings ever… sashimi, crab legs… sushi cake… and more… and fanta
thats the host mom on the right and the friends mom on the left… super nice people
mmm. grape fanta.
i took tons and tons of photos in kyoto which is my favorite city in japan by far… and osaka… kansai region in general…. here are some
on the bus
on the train
and on the street
on christmas i went to a slammin reggae party in kyoto and had a blast, but alas, dancing and shooting photographs dont go well together, so i got mostly blurry shots.
i thought this was kind of odd… a crab sitting in a bowl of crab ramen. the arms moved up and down. hes a cannibal!
the kabuki theater
the zen temple
this was a pretty amazing zen temple/garden
this painting was huge, i thought it was really old, but it was made like 2 years ago to commemorate an anniversary of the temple. its alot bigger than whats in the picture, its on the ceiling with an incredible buddha shrine underneath it. amazing.
they rake the gravel to make ocean waves
hand washing ladle
in and around the gion
the gion is where the geishas are
it was an epic trip… big ups to my folks, kyoto and fukuoka!
Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!!
2007 was a good year. Shred City! Midtown Top Ranking! Tokyo! Seattle!
I just got a Holga camera and I took all my New Years photos on it, so who knows what they will look like. The Holga is a really interesting camera and I’ve never used medium format film, much less any film for quite some time, so we will see. I can’t wait for school to start then I can scan the pictures! I took almost 800 pictures last week in Kyoto and Fukuoka so they should be up soon, it is taking forever to work my way through them. I’ve been busy with all this New Years stuff so they should be on the flickr pretty soon. I don’t think that I’ll be able to post all the pics to the blog (it takes forever), so I’ll link to the flickr set…. when there is a flickr set.
2008 Get Awesome! Keep Shredding!
so yesterday was pretty wacky… i get to kyoto and i realize that i have no clue where my hostel is in relation to where i am. so i try to make my way towards downtown, first on foot, then by bus, then by foot again. after 2 hours of wandering around and ending up back at kyoto station, i finally find this internet cafe and get directions. i get to the hostel and set off for this reggae bar to say whats up to the owner, and its closed for christmas, but he is bartending at this party in town. i have a vague idea of where this club is and i set off for it, in the wrong direction. i walk for about 45 minutes and i get to marutamachi station… but its a different marutamachi station. so i get out of this station and i start walking, in the wrong direction, and i end up back where i was 45 minutes ago. so after 2 hours i finally ask someone, and i get correct directions. i walk for another 45 minutes and i get to the other marutamachi station and i cant find it! i know its around the station, in the basement of something… and it turns out that the entrance is in the stairway to the station, which would explain why its called club metro. the party was fun, there were good reggae dj’s and sweet live music.
when i was walking around getting more lost and frustrated i started playing a game called intrepid photographer, where id just take as many photos as i could.
lessons learned: get directions
kyoto, name your subway stations better, its confusing.
so yesterday i went to the bicycle film festival here in tokyo, and there was a big seattle presence! not only did i meet up with a new friend of many friends… and a tokyo friend.. we saw an awesome 2 hours of bike films! the longest film was called “fast friday” and its about… fast friday out in seattle. it was a well made film, and after the showing i met some people that i didn’t really know before but i had seen all around downtown/cap hill… we then went out to to a special fast friday in tokyo event… here are the pictures
so after fast friday we got totally hooked up and got into the bicycle film festival party for free, thanks to the founder of the festival
what up brendt!? thanks!
the end of the party.. 4:30 am
it was a super fun day… thanks to seattle, fast friday, cadence and the bicycle film festival for an awesome day!
so after 3 days of trying to rent a dog (the first day i got there past the reservation time, the second day it was raining and they don’t rent on rainy/wet days) i finally did it.
i’d like to preface this report by saying i only found out about this uniquely asian service because of the second bear suit project… basically every american said that the odaiba rent-a-dog place was their favorite place in all of tokyo (well, thats not true, almost every american said odaiba… but alot said the rent-a-dog in odaiba, so i’m going to make a broad blanket statement…) [i personally dont think odaiba is that great... i found some clothes shopping deals while wasting 3 hours waiting for my rent-a-dog, but overall i didnt think odaiba was that great... granted, it is "scenic"... but whatever... you can't really get the best of both the urban and rural areas in a city like tokyo... you have to live in an awesome city like seattle! odaiba is nice for tokyo, and it is sort of pretty, and you can rent a dog, but its no discovery park... or even lincoln park in west seattle (i saw a bald eagle there once)] the odaiba waterfront is pretty if you look at it like enjoying staring across a bay to see tons of skyscrapers… and it certainly beats seattle in terms of the number of skyscrapers… but its no kehoe beach (which isnt in seattle.. its on the pt. reyes peninsula in california… best beach ever made (that ive seen))…
secondly, id like to talk about the rent-a-dog service in regards to what little i know about japanese culture… i noticed 2 or 3 trends in my limited experience with a rent-a-dog service… first: the internet reports of expats wishing they still had their dog with them (i.e. me and some other people… google it), second: japanese with super restrictive leases that don’t allow them the awesomeness that is owning an awesome dog (i.e. like me… although i’m not looking to get another dog in japan and it did prove to be prickly over the first 3 years in the states) and japanese couples that just wish they had a baby… or a dog…or a living thing… to coddle.
so, it took me three days to reserve a dog… the first day i got to “puppy the world” (that is the actual name of the place in odaiba.. .there is also the “cats livin’” store where you pay a nominal fee to go into a room with a bunch of cats and you can pet them and stuff… i did it, it wasn’t that cool.. these cats, let alone cats in general.. dont care about people) it was after 2, and the second day it was wet.
so some people would say that the rental dog service is pretty unethical… i kind of agree, except that stupid people like me are willing to pay money to walk some persons dog. so these dogs are getting tons of people that want to pay money to walk a dog and shower it with love for a limited amount of time. granted they live in a glorified shelter, but people are coming every non-rainy day and paying attention to it. i certainly dont think this is the same as owning a dog… because i feel like kaya and i have some kind of relationship, i got him off a shitty farm in valley ford when he was 6 weeks old. maybe he just pays attention to me because i gave him food and didn’t yell at him for pooing outside of our typically meager housing situations, but i have never met anyone else who would wait at the door/gate 5 minutes before i got home. and i dont know anyone who could recognize the sound of my car a mile away. and i dont know many people that like to go on really long drives and listen to reggae music and then walk on some beach or up a giant hill (well, i guess i do).
i really just did this because i miss my dog.
there were mostly couples in line with me to get the dogs… you have to show up between 12 and 2pm and reserve a dog, then show up again at 3 to claim the dog… after 2 days of disappointment, i was there at 12pm sharp. 11:57 maybe. when i saw the dog i picked (in picture form) i kind of got the impression that it was a german shepherd puppy… boy was i wrong… it was a black and white shiba inu… really small… about 15lbs tops… it might have been a puppy, it just might have been really small… but it was cute.
you also would think that a rent-a-dog service would employ trained dogs… nope! i kind of think this dog was a pup because it was impossibly hyper… it might also be that they only get walked when they get rented… questionably ethical… the funny thing was that they asked if i could handle an “active” dog… this dog was only 15 pounds! it pulled on the leash alot… but i mean, this is a tiny dog… the dog i grew up with weighed more than me most of my life… but of course neither of us really spoke each others respective native languages, so i guess it makes sense to ask.
so i show up at noon… choose the dog from the bulletin board of photos and find out i have to wait until 3pm to claim the dog… so i walked around the many malls of odaiba for 3 hours.. visiting the sony explorascience center (not that cool) and eating a crappy tuna sandwich at a “hawaiian” joint until it was time. i get back to “puppy the world” and wait in line with a bunch of people (10 maybe) and we show our claim tickets and get our dogs and our tote bags with poo baggies and water (to clean the poo off the asphalt, not water the dogs… you get a bowl and have to fill it with water that isnt in the poo cleaning bottle)… most people got french bulldogs… i think they are kind of silly looking… and i find out that i am not getting a german shepherd but a tiny shiba inu… oh well.. a dog is a dog i suppose. the dog is stoked to see me for a second, then is ready to tear off… she is totally straining the leash until i ran with it for 20 minutes… unfortunately, this is just some random dog, so its not like i can let it off the leash and hope it comes back… plus i dont even think it understood english…
it was a cute dog though… we went on a nice jog/walk through this old japanese military training spot and when i’d stop at a bench to observe the view, it would totally sit in my lap and let me pet it… adorable…
it was actually more interesting to watch the other peoples experiences… we werent walking together, but everyone is basically walking around the same waterfront park, so i’d pass all the other people at some point during the hour… the most interesting/surreal/adorable couple had this french bulldog that wasnt really into walking (as i said, these dogs are really untrained) and they just carried it around for an hour… when i passed them about 45 minutes into it they were just cuddling it on a bench and cooing to it and petting it… so weird, but kind of cute too… they just want to love on something for a bit… and are willing to pay money for that privelege… saps like me i suppose!
my dog payed little or no attention to me really unless we were running or sitting, and i guess i wouldnt expect it to, it has probably been walked by tons of people and in my experience animals only care about the people who feed it. it obviously didnt respond to my english “hey!”s… but it did like to be pet and walked. this was certainly no substitute for owning a dog… but it did somewhat relieve this weird desire i have to walk my dog again. all these dogs are too jaded.
this was a really weird experience.. i dont think ill rent a dog again. it was a gorgeous day though, and it was cool to walk a dog on the waterfront on a sunny day… almost like having my real dog with me
my real dog (flying in the air circa december 2005 on a randomly post-snowy seattle weekend):
even older… april 2005 46th st.
so here are the pictures of ayame the rent-a-dog:
it was certainly a cute dog… but its not my dog.
so today i went to the tokyo sea life park… pretty sweet! here are some photos… (ps: i dont think its wrong to take photos of fish, but i dont think its cool to take photos of caged animals… hypocritical? maybe)
for some reason, they leave a datestamp sign out for entrance portraits… i dont know if i have ever seen that at any other attraction ever
tokyo disneyland across the water… theres the castle and space mountain or captain eo
giant moray! creeeeepy!
puffer fish! fugu! ふぐ
leafy sea dragon!
in the middle of this pic is the blenny.. a rock hopping fish
this baby penguin wasnt so into floating around.. he just wanted to kick it with his rock pals
the adult penguin feeder leaving
at this point i would like to crack my joke.. [joke redacted... if you really want to know, ask me... but making fun of the holocaust isnt really funny 99.9% of the time... even if you are a jew]
baby penguins getting stoked to be fed
id like to be this guy… joke nonwithstanding
the origin of the joke
pretty cute! i wish i had a baby penguin living in my bathroom, like when mickey mouse brought the seal home
this is the first thing you see upon entrance to the sea life park
theres a bunch of other tanks and the giant tuna donut tank… cool!
it was sweet, and only 700¥, so go check it out.
so today i went to the ueno zoo… it was kind of depressing… for instance ling ling the panda now lives at the ueno zoo.. the oldest zoo in nippon. ling ling is relagated to a room that is lined with tile and is fed dumplings consisting of apples and chicken. i’m pretty positive that ling ling didnt eat dumplings in the mountainous regions of china… granted he gets as much bamboo as he wants in his room, im sure he didn’t relegate himself to 20 sq. m of space with tile floor… or consider dumplings the majority of his diet. i know that pandas are one of the dumbest creatures on earth (who else survives on a terribly threatened species of bamboo in a terribly threatened forested region of china and only mates every so often to produce one baby), but i was surprised to see that the san diego zoo traded the ueno zoo for ling ling.
i’d say even though it was definately cool to see the greater asian take on the zoo, it was basically just as depressing as most zoos. i saw a bunch of incredible birds, like the secretary bird, that i will never see in the wild but it was kind of a drag to see them in the middle of tokyo in a small enclosure.
this picture does no justice to the awesomeness that is the secretary bird.
the ueno zoo definately excels in birds and small mammals. i think i saw stuff that id never see in an american zoo. considering that it cost about 5 bucks to get in (600¥) it was a deal. when it came to the larger mammals/reptiles.. it got pretty depressing.
i would like to assume that most of the larger mammals were raised in captavity and just didnt grow as large as most of their wild counterparts. the lions and tigers seemed pretty small, considering the hype that they get as ferocious beasts. granted the tigers were asiatic tigers, i still wouldn’t step to them. they seemed to be a little smaller than i would have assumed, but still ferocious.
the asiatic elephants were in this tiny pen (compared to their size)… and there were 4 or 5 of them… so i didnt think that was that cool…
on the other hand, i dont know if youve taken the time to appreciate the alien-like nature of an elephants skull/physique
a bunch of the birds at the zoo have pretty dinosaur-like features…totally wild… so i think thats definately a good point of argument for evolution people… there are some wild creatures out there
the monkeys, arguably the most intelligent and human-like creatures at the zoo, seemed so bummed out to be stuck in cages… the just sat and stared at the people or huddled in the back and slept… drag city
the polar bears had a relatively realistic enclosure, but all they did was pace back and forth along this cliff that was closest to the fence and kind of pose/glare menacingly towards everybody… all day.
i saw this guy feed the penguins and the shore/ocean birds and that was cool.. he threw fish to to the cranes and seagulls and stuff, then went in the enclosure and all the penguins waddled out of the pool and followed the dude and he fed each of the penguins a fish as they waited around him. super cute.. i didnt know that there was a type of penguin called the jackass penguin… oddly enough the king penguins (like the ones in march of the penguins) had this totally crappy enclosure behind this glass wall and all 8 of them just stood there, beaks against the glass, and just stared at the people passing by… i guess macaroni penguins and jackass penguins are more managable… youd think theyd give every flightless bird a sweet enclosure… its not like they can hop the fence and fly away
there were some sweet nocturnal mammals, notably the leopard cat, the flying fox and the pangolin…
i saw a giant anteater, which was cool cause the UCI mascot is the anteater… they are also fed a diet that doesnt consist of what they naturally eat… mostly chicken. so weird.. but they feed the anteater this mix of ground chicken and greens in this bucket type carafe thing that they hang outside the fence of the enclosure and the anteater uses his super long tongue to reach down the narrow neck of the bucket and scoop out the contents inside. i got there way after feeding time, when there were only scraps left in the bucket, to see some japanese girl lifting the bucket so that the anteater could get all the scraps inside… cute and weird. firstly anteaters dont eat chicken… and secondly anteaters dont eat ants out of carafe shaped buckets. zoos are kind of weird. but i did get a first-hand look at the incredible anteater tongue.
i saw capybaras… which are pretty cool because they are like giant guinea pigs. there was a mom and a dad and a baby one. pretty cute.
soon after seeing the anteater i met a really nice canadian dude and we walked through the rest of the zoo and got a beer afterwards and went our seperate ways… really nice dude though.
the most notable thing after the anteater were the hippos and the crocodile.
the hippos (both regular and pygmy sized) were in enclosures that seemed way too small, but it seems like hippos are pretty lazy and as long as they have a pool to chill in they dont care…
the croc on the other hand practically took up the entire pool that it had… i didnt remember how big they were! the funny thing was that i saw the dwarf crocs first and i just assumed that they were so small as a result of living in such small quarters.. then the next pool was the full sized croc pool and this thing was GIANT! it was asleep, but it was absolutely enormous! totally 6-10 meters long! i felt bad for it because it was in an enclosure that was basically the length of itself though… i’ve seen planet earth... crocs are one of the most brutal animals on earth… if the macaques get a mountain, the crocodile definately deserves a bigger enclosure! (ps: baby macaques are impossibly adorable.. basically a mcnugget for a crocodile… i think an adult macaque is still nugget sized to a croc)
so all in all, it was cheap and it took up most of my day, but it was also kind of depressing to see the larger mammals stuck in such dinky cages…. i saw some incredible birds and other stuff, and i cant recall the last time i went to a zoo, so it was definately worth the 5 bucks.. and i met a canadian! good times… but you should probably take the 5 bucks youd spend to go to the ueno zoo and just go rent planet earth, which is the most breathtaking, incredibly filmed and impossibly awesome animal/nature documentary ive ever seen (get the bbc one, not the discovery channel one, it sounds way cooler with attenborough narrating instead of sigourney weaver)
maybe i’m just uneducated and unsophisticated, but i get this totally silly childlike giddyness everytime i go to a museum or a zoo/aquarium… ironically i hated most of the times i was made to go to them as a child, except for the flight museum in dc… that museum rules! looking back, i wish i had appreciated all those times more. knowledge rules. theres no time to bemoan all the knowledge i should have gained.. theres just time to go out and gain more!
well, i am finally moved in to the new pad! i’ve not yet entirely unpacked, but i am entirely living in the itabashi-ku… welcome to beautiful itabashikuyakushomae (which means: itabashi city/town/ward in front of the city hall)! i am conveniently located near the ward office, which i will probably only have to go once, and ive already gone to change the address on my gaijin card… but it is on the mita subway line which is the line closest to school and the neighborhood provides everything one would actually need. there are 2 grocery stores, 2 or more 100¥ stores, an indian curry restaurant, a japanese curry restaurant, a chinese joint, tons of ramen/udon shops, tons of produce/meat stores and yes, most important of all, a free petting zoo. i’m not sure why there is a free petting zoo in my neighborhood, but i’m not going to question it… i’ll go to the spot tomorrow and take some photos, but i kinda fear that it will make it look even more pitiful than it already kind of is… and to top it off i’m totally going to the ueno zoo tomorrow… the oldest zoo in japan. but i dont think i’m going to take photos because i think its pretty low to take photos of caged animals. i’d much rather go to the aquarium, but i dont know which aquarium to go to. needs more research.
anyways, welcome to my sweet (by japanese standards) pad!
my small stovetop and sink/dish drying tub
my fridge and washer.. and my radical rice cooker
kitchen/entry… note the three essentials of cooking… soy sauce, olive oil and tabasco… i really need to find some sriracha!
my spaceship airlock bathroom… i really wish it had an airlock!
my yet to be unpacked room… big ups to ikea for having relatively affordable comfortable designs! i need some kind of organizational system… so if anyone has the hookup on milk crates or cheap, stackable boxes and shelves… let me know
oh yeah, go to muji.net… i was gifted a beautiful teapot from there… everything they make is golden (design wise… everything is really some shade of beige.. but still incredibly radical.. better ikea with a much higher price!)!
ill post the neighborhood pics tomorrow
(ps: i would like to note that even though this is a nice western-style japanese pad… most (poor) gaijin are relegated to the few gaijin-friendly/focused realty companies and that there are probably nicer, bigger pads out there but 99% of japanese real estate companies are super anti-gaijin and won’t even talk to you, and then they want all this deposit money, “key money” which is basically 6 months rent, then this “gift money” to the landlord that you give to the landlord as a gift for being so gracious as to letting you rent his rental property… lame. im super stoked on this pad!)
happy thanksgiving to everybody. this year for me its particularly important to give thanks because ive been so lucky to have been able to come here… (oh and i have an apartment now… so im staying for a while longer!)
big ups to my family for supporting me, watching my pup and helping me come out to japan!
big ups to my friends in the states for staying in touch and stuff…
big ups to my new friends too
big ups to everyone else… im going to subway (kinda gross) to see if they have turkey subs… then maybe to an international market to see if i cant get a turkey sandwich there instead
i miss you all, thanksgiving is really the only holiday i celebrate, so its somewhat of a drag not to be at home. its the best day of the year… family and too much food. solid combo.
oh gosh you guys am i stoked on how this is turning out…. my photo final.. bear suit portraits matched up with yet-to-be-taken landscapes of japan.. well the greater tokyo area! yah! and the best part is that i just smacked down the silly epson printer and now im printing gorgeous prints to turn in! so stoked! compare these to part one… i think they are definately a step forward (even though i think the bear suit photo project has ended… its a technical progression).
check this out!
this is totally my favorite one, but it doesn’t really go with the whole semi-uniform approach
well, i think i definately have been progressing as a photographer these last few months… this series certainly isnt perfect, but i think it is closer to what i wanted the first one to be… had i had more control over the room and the lighting (its the painting room, so sometimes there were people painting in there and i couldnt turn out the lights and fiddle like i would have liked to)… and had paid a bit more attention to the placement of the people in the frame, it could have been a bit more together… all in all im stoked, the prints are turning out fabulously… i also had a tripod, which made things pretty much better all around… oh and i learned how to focus my camera.. that helps too.
obviously im not turning all of these in, i think it got a bit better as you go down the page and stuff like that… its at least some amount of progress… im stoked.
dear japan, stop hating gaijin (foreigners) and just give me a 6-8 month, month to month (paid in advance), apartment for 6-8 months… at the price of less than hachi-mon… (80,000 yen… $700)
please. alls i wanna do is one more semester and one 8 week, 6 credit intensive photo course in the summer… (plus maybe another year until i graduate…) pleaaaaase….
This shrine was one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in Japan!!! I really wish my dad was here, he’d get a huge kick out of it. This fascinating shrine was first created in 1869, during the Meiji era. This is about the time that the US (courtesy of Matthew Perry) landed in Japan. Up until that time, Japan had been in voluntary isolation from most of the world for quite some time. There was a big conflict during the Meiji Restoration that led to this shrine for Japanese war heroes. There are over 2,460,000 people, mostly soldiers, enshrined here as Shinto gods. This is a very controversial shrine because there are soldiers from the Russia-Japan and China-Japan wars, and WWII. There are at least 14 Class A War Criminals enshrined here, and many big political figures in Japan visit here annually. It is also widely regarded outside of Japan to be a very biased, revisionist retelling of the last 130 years of war history. There is a big right-wing presence here, but apparently they don’t really have much control over the running of the shrine. It is a privately funded religious shrine though, not a government funded one. There are usually these big black vans outside of it that blast right-wing nationalist propaganda through a loudspeaker. These vans, SUVs and buses also drive past my school on a pretty regular basis blasting fascist propaganda, sometimes it sounds like Wagner opera.. very Nazi-ish… but they are non-violent and generally regarded as nutjobs.
I got to the shrine pretty late, so I didn’t have time to survey the grounds entirely… I went into the museum, which was really interesting. In the beginning theres a lot of cool Samurai swords and uniforms, then it just gets into the more recent wars, up to WWII. Most of the captions were in Japanese, except for these time lines explaining their view of the course of these wars. The whole museum only dealt with the military events, there was only one sentence (in English at least) mentioning Pearl Harbor, and no mention of the Atomic bomb. All the captions for the various uniforms, will and testaments and artifacts are in Japanese. I don’t remember seeing very much about the Japanese actions in Okinawa during the second World War as well, other than the mention of people “valiantly” committing suicide for the cause. Definately no mentions of WWII Comfort Women either… I’m definately going back again, earlier in the day, so I can go slower and explore the whole compound. Here are some pictures though:
This is a REAL Zero Fighter (Model 52.. the second model)
By the way, these were built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the same people who make cars and electronics. Pretty odd, but history has shown that war is pretty profitable for some industries (list unnamed defense contractors and manufacturers here)
I thought this was pretty cool to see in person, there were some other planes too, but you couldnt take photos. I couldn’t imagine flying one of these, or an American plane.. They are pretty small, and seem pretty sketchy.
that tree is blocking the ominous clouds
this is a 150 year old bronze cannon
this is the shrine
this is a lion… someone told me that when the Buddhist Vedas were brought from India to China to Japan… no one in Japan actually knew what a lion looked like, they had just read it in the Vedas and kind of make one up. I don’t know if the lion is in the Shinto religion, or its just one of those Buddhist/Shinto mixes…
Anyways, it was very interesting to see this place, I definately want to go back… particularly when its cherry blossom season. There are tons of cherry blossoms here. I felt kind of weird about the attitude towards their wars here, but every country is going to skew the experience to make themselves look a little better.
Just to make you feel a little better, heres a picture of a baby polar bear that i didnt take
so about 2 weekends ago i got to be a checkpoint at a halloween alleycat race… unfortunately, on the saturday it was originally set for there was a typhoon storm, so it got pushed to sunday, which greatly diminished the turnout. supposedly a whole bunch of crazy fixie riders were going to be there, but i guess the word didn’t get out that it had been moved to the next day. sunday was a totally beautiful sunny day! i’d heard a bunch about setagaya park before, and how tons of good riders go out there to hang out and tear it up, but i’d never been there so i was thrilled at the opportunity to go check it out! since it was a halloween race, there were costumes! as a checkpoint i had to stand on a street corner with a bag of candy in my bear suit, and wait for people to ride up to me and say “trick or treat”, then i’d give them a piece of candy.
for those of you who don’t know, at this type of race, when it starts you get a list of points to go to and collect something. you can go in any order, you just want to hit the most places and collect the most stuff in the shortest amount of time. it is mostly a bike messenger scavenger hunt thing because they know the streets really well. i could never run a race like that in tokyo because this town has no logical street layout or urban planning. ever since edo, tokyo just keeps burning down and they randomly build on top of it.
lets see photos!
this guy had the right idea… all you need is a toy gun, a gas mask, a sweet camera/lens/flash setup and a bike! thats a good halloween race
this is pissumo (pista+sumo), also called footdown, basically everyone stands in a circle, with 2 people in the center trying to trackstand the longest. (you can also try to knock the opponent off the bike as well).. pretty entertaining
there were these crazy talented bmx riders at the park too
greasing that chain
bunny hop/wheelie… wild!
all in all it was super fun! i hope that i can be a checkpoint again!
man, i haven’t written on this thing since october 20… sorry! so to make up for it, im going to post 3 posts today, with lots of photos… here are some photos from my last photo critique… they all have to do with finding light sources and also manipulating light in photos… some of it was fun.
writing with light is fun!
im a wizard!
five hands and 3 heads!
im a ghost!
eli has a nice bike
train tracks at night
self portrait 5
water bottle reflections
bright shiny days
this is the only remotely good photo from halloween..and its not even in focus.. the gaijin train. this was seriously the dumbest thing ive taken part of in japan! hundreds of gaijin just take over 2 or 3 cars on the yamanote line and just get rowdy and drunk… i wasn’t in a costume, i just wanted to witness it… it was too crowded, i couldnt take photos, my lens wouldnt stop fogging up, i wasn’t drinking… just stupid. im never doing that again
self portrait 6
manbuku.. i think its a ramen shop まんぶく
well. thats post 1 of 3. next up… bike race!
so for my photo class i made a series of portrait-style photos of different people rocking the bear suit… man i really need an autofocus-capable lens! i took tons of photos, mostly in low light… and hardly any came out in focus… at least the ones that did come out were pretty cool… i did well in the critique, but the thing that stuck with me the most was the criticism of positioning and background… one person said it would have been better with really varied backgrounds (like at the train station… in the supermarket etc..)… and one person said all the backgrounds/positions should have been uniform… like on a brick or white wall… but i think regardless of how well they go together as a conceptual series (and i agree with the criticism, but i was operating under a severe lack of time), these photos came out nicely. enjoy.
they should have all been set up like this one (above)
or this one
hope you enjoyed it
so last weekend was huge! sorry for not posting sooner, ive been super busy with school (midterms and all). first and foremost big ups to dave and emily for taking care of second camera duty during the trip (and also letting me tag along with them a majority of the weekend) they took a bunch of these photos with the point and shoot…. as i mentioned in the last post, i spontaneously left on the shinkansen (best invention ever!) at the behest of my dad, for osaka/kyoto/nara… and it was rad! first night was kind of a bust, just cheap drinking and then sleeping at an internet cafe…
shots from the shinkansen
sunday in osaka was way more epic!
this is osaka castle… rad!
fishing in the moat… notice the little cut-out algae fishing hoop things
im pretty sure this is an arhat, something i learned about in asian art history in shoreline… but they just beg for alms all the time… in the name of buddhism… i kicked down some yen for the cause
this is osaka castle, super epic!! wikipedia says that it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period. major stuff.. of course like most things in japan, it burned down in an earthquake and it was refurbished and turned into a museum.. so the inside is kinda boring (aside from all the awesome museum info-ness)… but sen rikyuu is the man… he invented the tea ceremony
bikes! i think this is a single speed though, it seems to have front and rear brakes
looking down the osaka castle well
after osaka castle, it was on to the “floating garden observatory” which was in fact not a garden at all.. just an observatory on top of an awesomely constructed building
this is the escalator up from the 30-something floor to the 4oth
heres a photo from the actual observatory
no skanking! no skating!
then we ate killer okonomiyaki which is this pancake/omelette thing but its not really a pancake or an omelette.. discuss! the cook/owner was super nice and he gave us our little spatulas to take with us! nice guy! then dave and i walked around osaka for a while… he looked up a bar he wanted to go to, and after getting super lost… we found A POKEMON CENTER!!! i don’t know what goes on at a pokemon center, but someday i’ll have to find out. so the quest for artemis bar continued…
and then i rocked out. then we got really lost and found a giant whale
we recruited 2 separate trios of people, and they guided us to the bar! then dave caught the train back to the kyoto hostel where i couldnt get a bed, and i walked around some more and then went to the internet cafe and passed out in a little cubicle.
nijo castle was super super cool! heres a snippet from wikipedia about ninomaru palace (there are 2 palaces on the grounds…)
In 1601 Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of Tokugawa Shogunate ordered all the feudal lords in Western Japan to contribute to the construction of the Nijō Castle. The construction was completed during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1626. It was built as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns.
In 1867 the Ninomaru Palace was the stage for the declaration by Tokugawa Yoshinobu, returning the authority to the Imperial Court. Next year the Imperial Cabinet was installed in the castle. In 1939 the palace was donated to the city of Kyoto and opened to the public the following year.
there are tons of awesome paintings on the walls, but they arent protected by the sun very well, so all the windows are shuttered and theres no real lighting in the room. i’m sure it didnt help that i went on a cloudy day either. one super epic feature are the “nightingale floors” that squeak all the time, so that ninjas couldnt attempt late night assassinations.
super cool garden
you cant go inside of honmaru palace, but when the walot shogunate takes over japan, i call this one
then it was time to check into the hostel, and i took a shower… and dave and i rented bikes, which was a genius idea.. we covered so much ground, and got to ride mama chari!
we went to a bunch of temples and shrines, but it was kind of late in the day so most of them were closed.
this guy was chanting in a very cool fashion
this is a crazy restaurant i think
then dave went back to the hostel to do homework and i found a killer reggae bar and hung out there for a little bit, listening to all the reggae jams of the 60′s and 70′s… and a little 80′s… but there wasn’t alot of good music in the 80′s…
the next morning we left for nara, with a stop at the inari shrine… on the train this guy had cool shoes with brass knuckles on them
Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社?) is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines.
the inari shrines are all about foxes (kitsune) and this particular shrine has possibly thousands of toriis lining the trails up the mountain! epic! beautiful! huge!
this is one of the main statues.. the fox is holding a key to the rice granary… inari are often worshipped by merchants for business prosperity
you see that paper tied around the foxes tail? thats from the japanese fortune lottery… theres like cylinder with sticks in it, you shake it up and one sticks out of the little hole on top with a number on it… and that corresponds to a fortune. if you get a bad fortune, you are supposed to tie it on a tree, but i guess the fox works too. i got a good fortune though, so no worries.
all over are these bells, i think you pray and then ring the bell so that the inari hear your prayer
these are the torii gates lining the trail/path… i think this shrine has the most toriis in japan… the trail goes all the way up the mountain
i blended 6 photos to make this killer panoramic shot at the top of the mountain… to see it larger click here.
when you enter a temple or shrine you are supposed to wash your hands and mouth with these things… this was a particularly cool model
for some reason there was a little crab on the mountain.
at the top of the mountain we ate kitsune udon… i guess at bigger shrines they have udon noodle soup with ingredients that the kami there likes… hence fox udon… it has inari (fried tofu soaked in some kind of sweet vinegar) in it. which doesnt make sense to me because why would a fox eat tofu? either way it tasted great and it was in a very scenic setting. then i saw this cat and i stopped to pet it and it just crawled into my lap! it wouldnt even get off, i had to force it off me and put it down, cute though.
then i got to pet a shiba inu! inu means dog by the way.. i know akita inus are called akitas because thats the city/region/prefecture they are from.. akita. i wonder if thats the case with shiba inus? ill look it up on wikipedia…
nope i was wrong… heres yet another blurb from wikipedia
The word shiba usually refers to a type of red shrub. This leads some to believe that the Shiba was named with this in mind, either because the dogs were used to hunt in wild shrubs, or because the most common color of the Shiba Inu is a red color similar to that of the shrubs. However, in old Japanese, the word shiba also had the meaning of “small”, thus this might be a reference to the dog’s small size. Therefore, the Shiba Inu is sometimes translated as “Little Brushwood Dog.”
Anyways, I think we went the wrong way off the mountain and ended up walking for 45 minutes to a train station through some town… but it turned out to be advantageous since the new stop we were at was an express train stop and the inari stop wasn’t, so we saved about 30 minutes on the train ride to nara
nara was awesome! theres todai-ji, which has the biggest buddha in japan… and more importantly TONS OF DEER! DEER THAT YOU CAN PET! AND CUTE BABY DEER! these sika deer are thought to be shinto messengers for the gods, they just cruise around the area
heres the pudding… see the proof, its in that pudding.
this deer is drinking deer urine off the street
the male deer get pretty pushy, and they start to headbutt you… progressively harder… i was walking around trying to feed the littlest deer and this bull deer would follow me around and keep butting me harder and harder
deer trying to fight over and open some human food product
i like how only that little bit of fur is in focus
deer biting dave. dave was kind of terrified of the deer after this
why the hell youd ever bring your cat with you to the deer park, i’ll never know. needless to say this cat was absolutely terrified
this deer took our itinerary out of my back pocket and ate most of it. good thing this was the last part of the trip. we also got good luck envelopes for buying a restoration tile to help restore todai-ji, and in the envelope was an awesome drawing of the vairocana (cosmic) buddha.. but a deer also pulled it out of my back pocket and ate it.
this is me about to be headbutted by a deer
oh yeah, theres also todai-ji… which has the biggest statue of buddha in japan. the buddha is 15 meters tall and weighs 500 metric tons. the todai-ji building is also the largest wooden building in the world
this is it. its absolutely enormous! and cool.
this is the tile we split.
i think these are protectors of the vairocana buddha
these are also protecting buddha i think
outside of todai-ji
replicas of the lotus petals in the statue
helping dave overcome his fear of deer
last but not least was the pillar you crawl through. the hole in the pillar is the size of nostril of the statue, if you can crawl through it you will supposedly have an easier time reaching enlightenment
this weekend was a blast! i highly recommend osaka, kyoto and nara!