The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Japan

Happy Birth/Made Day

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September 3rd is apparently the “birthday” of the famous manga and animation character, Doraemon. It is hard to say how old he is exactly, as this robotic cat was made in the future, 2112 to be precise, so this year marks his 98th before birth. It doesn’t make sense if you think about it to much so don’t even try.

Doraemon is easily one of Japan most popular and recognisable characters, and the fans get a big kick out of finding the details of his birth date repeated throughout the traits of the character. For example he was born on 12/9/3  (which is how the Japanese write the date) and he is also 129.3 cms tall. His weight is 129.3 kgs and he can run at 129.3 kilometres an hour (if scared that is) and jump 129.3 metres (again when running away from something). Even the diameter of his feet is 129.3mm.

Doraemon first appeared in manga magazines in 1969. Around 1,350 episodes were published over the next 10 or 15  years, including several stories that stretched to book-length.  An animated television series arrived in 1979,  followed by several movies.

I am not really a fan of Japanese manga but of course I recognise the character and his importance on the shared memory of many Japanese people, mae and female alike. From what i’ve heard the stories are very funny and have a good moral undercurrent that tackles important subjects like bullying that children may have to deal with in their real lives.

And to be honest I found myself wearing a smile almost as big as he kids were when I saw all the Doraemon models crowding the park below Roppongi Hills Tower the other week. He is kind of cute.

So Happy Birthday Doraemon!

Later

Damon


Airport Samurai

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A day waiting at Haneda airport for my family to arrive back in Japan.

They are spending another day in a hotel in Vietnam though as the airline slowly brings them home, minus two cases so far.

Haneda International Airport has won awards for decor and themes which recreates an Edo-era village where the shops and restaurants are.

Today they also seemed to have an Edo-themed festival on with people walking around in period costume including the ninja above; dance performances and festival games and snacks.

Fun day really wish my boys could have seen it but they do get to see Ho Chi Min City at least.

Later

Damon

 


Dancing Girls

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Bit of a dancing weekend all told.

Not me of course, but lots of summer festivals with traditional dancing. All very photogenic.

The high-light was perhaps the Awa-Odori matsuri in Koenji on Sunday where the streets were packed with tourists and dancers all enjoying themselves. Not much to write, very busy with other jobs: lots of planning, selling, and as my family come back to Japan on saturday, cleaning to do.

Just thought I’d share a few photos with you from Sunday.

Later

Damon


A Day Out and About

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Great day walking around today with my friend Chris Willson from Okinawa, taking a few shots and visiting a few sites in Tokyo. One of the most distinctive places we came across was The National Art Center in Roppongi. Definitely an interesting building that let’s you take lots of abstract details in its wavy-lined windows and walls. Not this picture though which more of an architectural overview.

It was very hot today and at times we had to hide away from the sun in cafes and drink and drink.

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I did forget my thirst a bit when I saw lots of Doraemon on display at Roppongi Hills.

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And we finished the day with a bit of traditional culture at the Bon Odori matsuri in Hibiya Park.

A pretty good day all in.

Damon


Disproportionate

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The Israeli retaliation in Gaza for the kidnap and murder of three Jewish teenagers, has been called disproportionate. That is an understatement.

To date nearly 1,800 Palestinians have died in bombing and artillery attacks by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Almost 400 of them have been children and the images of dead and bloodied civilians, caught in the crossfire,  coming out of Gaza make this current operation, nominally to protect Israel from Hamas rocket attacks, especially cruel.

There have been many demonstrations against the war globally and today in Tokyo, Japan further joined that clarion call for restraint and peace in Gaza with a small, vocal demo in Shinjuku.

The rally began before 2pm in the park outside the east exit of Shinjuku station and about 600 people were said to have joined the rally and demo march that started at 3pm. It looked more like a thousand or so to me though. Most were Japanese with members of the Friday anti-nuke and anti-war protest groups making-up the majority. But there were also  few Muslims residents of Japan and a couple westerners among the marchers.

I do not know enough to comment on the significance of this protest in affecting Israeli policy. The protests in other countries like the UK and US have been much larger and more vocal in their opposition to Israel. More leverage can be applied by the US to reign in an angry, vindictive military and the people of America are growing louder in demanding their government does just that. Japan by comparrison has little dealings with the Jewish State.

How the fact that people thousands of kilometres away care enough to march in the street for you will affect the moral and determination of the Palestinians  is another thing.

That is perhaps more the point.

I had always been a grudging admirer of Israel due to its indomitable wish to just exist. But this action in Gaza is just plain nasty and seems determined to solve the problem of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel by cleansing the Gaza Strip of its population.

The whole situation is very complicated with extremists on both sides ratcheting up the violence and vitriol, and I cannot see it ending well. But people all around the world who value peace and the lives of innocents have to make their voices heard to try and stop this war.

Images above of some of the protest.

More images of the Gaza protest in Tokyo, Japan at my archive here.

later

Damon


Gateways

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A quick trip out to Hanada International Airport in Tokyo  yesterday, to see my family off to the UK.

After they had taken off I walked around the airport taking a few photos.

It was he first time  had been here. I’d been to Hanada before of course but not the International Terminal which I remember opening, with much fanfare a few years ago. I was quite impressed: it really is a nice place, with a good, vary large viewing deck; fun shops, including the largest Scalextric track I’ve ever seen. The building is modern and airy and it is just really good for photos. (see above).

I am waiting now to hear my family are safe on the ground and happily ensconced with my British family and I can relax.

Busy day today.

Later

Damon


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