You’ll just have to make do with this image of another right wing nut job, the current Tokyo governor, Naoki Inose, who may recently have lost Tokyo its Olympic bid. Until recently he also lived in my town and could often be seen walking around on his tiny little feet.
I love Japanese festivals and especially ones that involve carrying a mikoshi around. A few weeks after I arrived in Japan I was wondering the streets of my neighbourhood when I stumbled across the local Aki Matsuri or Autumn festival. Now I was new in Japan and that day I learnt a lot of new words for the mayhem of these events: Words like mikoshi (portable shrine), tabi (festival jackets), “washoi!” (which as far as I know means nothing and is just chanted when people are carrying mikoshi during the festival) and even the word matsuri (which means festival) itself. It was such a magical, unexpected pleasure in a country that was leaving me, at that time, quite lonely, bored and poor. I could join in the fun of the festival without spending money and it had all the colour and unfamiliarity of the travelling life I had just left behind when I moved here. In short it was best day in Japan up to then and I have had a soft spot for this part of Japanese culture ever since.
The Kanda matsuri is one of the three great Shinto festivals of Japan and takes place on odd numbered years in the streets around Kanda. I had never been to it before and it made the news this year as it was returning after a four year hiatus caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku on March 11th 2011. I just had to go.
Also friends of my sons had relatives involved in the matsuri so we could really join in. Indeed I could not avoid joining in.
I have carried a mikoshi before and know from that experience that firstly they are really heavy and secondly that I am apparently genetically unable to get into the rhythm of the carry due to the fact that I am just that bit taller and my legs that bit longer than most of the other people I’m having to share the burden with. If you can’t get the “washoi!” beat going as you carry the mikoshi you can guarantee some nasty shoulder bruises in a very short while. My first experience found me under the sharp-edged wooden beams, that support the mikoshi’s weight, performing some very ungainly, bandy legged waddle in an effort to lower my shoulders to the same level as everyone elses. This of course also made my thighs scream in pain and my hips twist uncomfortably.
Those memories were still fresh when I was pulled from the crowd by well-meaning but obviously sadistic new friends and thrust under those same, sharp beams yesterday. I tried to get the rhythm I really did: I held onto the man in front and even a mumbled “washoi!” left my lips. The person behind helpfully and perhaps angrily adjusted my posture every time my head dropped a little too far or my arse stuck out a little too much. But try as I might I just couldn’t get the same bounce in my step as they could. My legs had to bend that bit more to travel the same vertical distance as theirs; there was a delay: I couldn’t move up with the ups and down with the down as well as they could and the weight of the mikoshi smashed again and again and again and again into my shoulder.
My sons were smiling at me, proud and photographing madly. Yet I was in agony. I stuck it out as long as I could: I wanted to make them proud of course, but my clown legs meant clown feet spread wide and as we moved the mikoshi around a corner I couldn’t follow the shuffled steps; my feet seemed seven sizes bigger and caught on the heels of the man in front and the toes of person behind.
It hurt, I looked like an idiot and though they smiled and said “don’t worry” I am sure my accidental removal of most of my neighbours footwear, multiple times, was somewhat annoying.
But at the rest stop the food and rink was generous and friendly. My kids and their friends had a ball. And I was free now, having done my part to photograph, up close, with my mikoshi colleagues.
Exhausted and bruised but a great day out all the same.
As I wrote before; the ability of kids to make the best of these less than ideal living conditions still never fails to impress me: both the strength of the Tohoku people and the underestimated determination and sensitivity of the children themselves.
It is sometimes harder for the adults: the houses are small and noisy;privacy is minimal and they have the memories and the greater sense of loss. But the kids adapt quickly it seems and their happiness must be something that keeps the people who look after them going through bad times that were promised to have been over by now.
Busy on other Fukushima stories that I can’t show you until the client has used them.
Been a great couple of weeks of some quite amazing encounters.
One of the things we have seen in Fukushima a lot, both inside and outside the exclusion zone, is the decontaminated earth and undergrowth piled up in vinyl bags. The government has decided to reduce the radioactivity of the soil around the Fukushima Daichi plant exclusion zone by removing the top two or three centimetres of soil. The aim is to reduce the contamination levels in affected areas to under one millisievert an hour.
Farmland and residential areas are all to be scraped clean and many of Fukushima’s mountain areas (which accounts for around 60-70% of the contaminated land) will have 20 metres either side of every road cleared. This is what is happening in the image above near the village of Katsurao.
Some estimates put the total clean up area at 13% of the Prefecture: over 100 million cubic metres of soil and brush that so far is being stored in growing mountains of blue and black vinyl bags dotted around the countryside. Many of these are slowly being transported to special depots but some of the strict safeguards necessary to clean the area are already being ignored at this report in the Asahi Shimbun exposes.
Indeed, though technological solutions were promised to both speed-up and improve the decontamination work and companies that have expertise in dealing with such situation were invited to demonstrate their techniques; the job is mostly still being done by hand and the tools the workers can use are routinely primitive to say the least.
The Japanese government initially set aside 650 billion Yen for the decontamination but the area and the costs have risen beyond expectations. Corners are almost certainly being cut to save costs. Not least of these is in protecting the people doing the hard, dirty work of raking through the undergrowth and picking up the soil and leaves are putting them into the bags themselves. We saw no radiation suits or proper masks being worn. Indeed the most common mask we saw worn inside the zone, be they returning residents, clean up workers or policemen, was the next to useless hayfever paper mask that cost pennies in every convenience store. Some on the cleanup crew wore no masks at all! When we asked a not too happy security guard if the radiation was high in the trees and safe he said they measured it everyday and it was less than 0.6 microsieviets an hour (the Government reading). Yet if this was true why bother cleaning the area at all, it was already under the level that was the target of the action? Our Geiger counter read 1.57 microsieverts an hour on the road near where they were working. I cannot imagine what the readings must have been in the mud and leaves of the forest.
Whether this clean-up is for real or not is something I am unclear about. There are people returning to the Fukushima countryside for sure and a lot of the land in parks and schools and areas where people have quickly returned to now has a dry, dusty brown colour where the topsoil has already been removed. But the decontamination of the Prefecture’s mountains just looks like so much window dressing to me. Perhaps it will go on just long enough to convince people that efforts are being made to clean-up the mess and than will be quietly forgotten. It would take hundreds of years, perhaps even thousands, to complete remove the top layer of the soil in the affected area of Fukushima and surrounding prefectures. A school playground can effectively been cleaned perhaps but the bottom twenty metres of a slope will easily be contaminated again the next time it rains anywhere on the slopes above. The project seems pointless to me: designed more to suggest it is now safe to return to the area; that nuclear pollution is actually easy to remove and thus nuclear energy itself is no longer something Japanese people should fear. This will of course make it easy for the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to follow through on its stated aim of building more nuclear power-stations.
Anyway it’s late I have another photo job tomorrow in Soma, north of the zone. And need to get some sleep.
The emperor of Japan visited the Kawauchi Elementary School last Autumn. There is a commemorative stone near the entrance to mark the event. The school children run past it on the way into school in the morning and out again in the afternoon. If they notice it they seem not to react to the honour. It makes their school special for parents and newspapers. But for the kids, their is school is special anyway.
The building is spacious and airy; the windows large and the floors and ceilings all polished wood and beams. The building is very beautiful but that is not what makes the school special. At 3:30pm as the school day finishes, the teachers (all of who seem to be quite young and wearing tracksuits) walk the children out, past the Emperor’s stone, and line them up to wait for the buses to take them home. The yellow-hatted first graders giggle and squirm as they wait. Noisy and naughty like six-year olds everywhere they are feral at this time of day and after climbing onto the buses rattle around the insides looking for distractions. Indeed as the teachers wave them good-bye, two small hands flap against the back window of the second bus; wishing the teachers desperate farewells. The hands are small against the emptiness of the bus’s back seats, the boy and girl, unable to continue the amusements of the queue in their isolation, look sad to be leaving. They are the only two children on the bus and they have nothing to do but wave. They are heading home to a town in a landscape that does not have a lot of young children anymore. This time two years ago in fact no one lived here at all.
After the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11th 2011 the town of Kawauchi swelled as it took in over a thousand homeless people from Tomioka on the coast. The tsunami could not reach this hill town of course but the sound of the explosions at the nearby Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant could and by March 15th the town was empty due to fear of radiation.
Yet Kawauchi is slowly recovering now it seems. One of the first places affected by radiation to re-open, the contamination readings are quite low and people are starting to make their lives here again. A lot of the topsoil has been removed and people are planting crops and setting up homes among the fields once more. A vegetable factory recently opened. Though if the area can ever regain the trust of the food consumer remains to be seen but there is hope that Kawauchi’s famous mushrooms will be a favourite of Japanese dishes as before. Most importantly however is the fact that some children have returned.
Even before the Fukushima disaster rural Tohoku had a problem with shrinking and ageing populations. Fears of radioactive contamination, and pointedly its effect on children, has unfortunately kept many from returning after they evacuated. In 2011 the number of students at the school stood at 114. This year there are only 24 across the first 6 grades. The first grade has a mere seven students: five boys and one girl. Grades three and four however have just one student each.
The teachers, all of whom were sent to the town from other areas of Fukushima when the school opened in April 2012, seem genuinely to love their posting here. Living in a school apartment building with other teachers from the elementary school and nearby junior high school and away from family and friends who are often in distant parts of the prefecture, they take the care of these kids very seriously. That reopening year there were only 16 students yet they have been surprised at how easily the kids have coped with the trauma of evacuation and a somewhat lonely return. Only one child was unable to get over the sounds of the explosions at the plant: Every-time it would thunder she would get very scared. All the teachers and other staff had to help her; talk to her; tell her it was going to be okay. It took just two weeks for the girl to believe them.
There is a deep skill and love in their teaching here. They know that the children are missing out on the normality of many friends and classmates and it is difficult for them so they fill in the spaces with a generosity of spirit that is humbling. We watched children practising athletics in the dusty, de-contaminated sports field. Athletics is a sport that individuals can do against the clock or each other because there are not enough students for a football or baseball team. All the teachers I met in this school seemed very genuine and gentle. Most importantly though they seemed to recognise that the children themselves were special. Just dealing with unreality of their school days here on the edges of the Fukushima exclusion zone takes a degree of bravery and determination that many children could not easily match.
The sun may have been out and the ground drier but due to the fact that not many people have been in the two years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the scenes of destruction in Tomioka were very reminiscent of the time I was working in Iwate just after the disaster. Add in some radioactivity and you have a nightmarish landscape that was just a little too familiar to be comfortable.
Off out to the zone again today.
More images of Tomioka Town inside the Fukushima exclusion zone at my archive site here:
A freaky, frightening kind of day in areas that are pretty unchanged since the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11th 2011.
Shooting up here for the week.
More images of Tomioka Town inside the Fukushima exclusion zone at my archive site here.
Interesting piece by Nathalie Kyoko Stucky here on Koji Kitahara, a farmer from the Chiba District of Tokyo who has been fighting against the construction of Narita Airport for more than 40 years.
The airport is of course built and operating and many people might wonder why he doesn’t accept that, take the generous compensation offered for his land and give up the fight. After all Narita’s runways and terminal buildings are a fact of life in modern Japan and there is no likelihood of them disappearing and the fields of rice and potatoes returning any time soon.
But then again the historical malfeasance of the Japanese Government and airport authorities in the appropriation of the local farmers’ lands and the intimidation and casualties, even deaths, that resulted when some resisted the airport’s construction is something that should not be forgotten and something that Kitahara San still tries to inform people about.
I have photographed him at many left-wing demos and conferences, (photo above) and always thought the struggle he represents a little bit pointless given the existence of the airport. But reading this piece , though I was not surprised to find the Government and construction companies had acted so badly and abused the farmers, I became a little more understanding of the Kitahara San’s reasons to not give up. He may never get the fields back but the intimidation of those that mourn their loss, or those that are currently resisting the same bullying expansion of the airport, continues to this day and this is worth fighting. Far from being anachronistic his struggle is the the timeless one of little, ordinary people against the power of politicians and corporations that feel they can do what they want.
A struggle that is perhaps even more valid today than 40 years ago.
When out shooting it is always a good idea to take a few snaps of any landmarks and interesting buildings and businesses you come across. My collection of images of Japanese left wing protests or old ladies in Tokyo’s Sugamo district, though very satisfying to shoot sometimes and part of longer projects, might not exactly get the editors to spend money regularly. Some of course do but it is rather a niche market and by that I mean an impoverished one.
But stock images of Tokyo’s famous buildings and unique fashions always sell. Like the one of the Tokyo central court above that has just been bought by a publication in China. A “little” extra money coming through is always nice. Especially at the moment:
Because I will be heading up to Fukushima in a week for a full week of shooting my own projects and a couple of other jobs also.
Getting excited by the research now.
The occupy Kasumigasaki anti-nuclear camp outside the offices of the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is facing a tough future. Just a few day after they returned to power in November 2012 the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), erected barriers around the camp and installed surveillance cameras to keep an eye on the activists. On March 29th they served Taichi Shosei and Taro Fuchigami with a court order that effectivley bankrupts the protest. As tent ‘owners’ these two protester have been charged with the illegal occupation of government land and have to pay rent for its use. The rent has been calculated at around 20,000 Yen a day and has also been backdated to the beginning of the protest in September 2011. After 581 days of protest (as of Sunday) this intimidating charge now stands at over 11 million Yen.
The first court hearing in this case, which is being fought in a civil court, will take place on May 23rd. Meanwhile the protester continue to fight for the existence of the camp understanding it significance as a focus for the wider, and now widely ignored, anti-nuclear power movement. Taro Fuchigami, (pictured in the baseball cap above) he has just returned from a meeting with METI officials in an effort to get the barriers around the camp removed in increase safer access.
Had a walk around the Japanese Ministry of Defence yesterday, seeing if I could get a picture of of the Patriot 3 interceptor missiles that have been deployed there to shoot down any Japan bound North Korean missiles (hopefully). Pretty difficult to get any sort of a view as a freelancer. Spoke to some Reuters guys who told me the process was laborious. So though the image above is not a great photo of the details of the launchers themselves think it nicely sums up the distant unreality of the situation we are living through now with North Korean brinkmanship.
Indeed this report in the Atlantic Wire says that Japan is Target number one if there is any launch. Calling Kim Jong Un‘s bluff on this is a difficult thing to do in a city as large and populous as Tokyo.
Anyway the Ministry is huge. I found it quite amazing that a country that doesn’t officially have an Army, Navy or Air Force needs quite so much space.
If we haven’t been attacked by North Korea anyway.
Rather lonely looking orangutang in Tama Zoo yesterday.
Reminded me of images of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
Sakura or cherry blossom season will soon be here.
To the Japanese this is something that often makes the lead story on the news.
This tree near my house is in a private garden, but is illuminated and the owners of the house even let visitors walk around their property to admire the, I admit, quite impressive tree. I am sure I will enjoy and shoot some of the Hanami parties that accompany the full blossoming in a few weeks time.
Off to work
Travelling on the Tokyo Toyoko Line tonight from Yokohama to Shibuya to go see a friend’s exhibition of photos from the tsunami; I couldn’t help noticing that lots of people were taking pictures of the train. As we neared Shibuya the number of photographers on street, fire-escapes and bridges just became ridiculous.
Getting off at Shibuya was manic: people with cameras were everywhere.
Turns out is was this.
Soon as I found out, took a few shots.
A lot of people came to say good-bye. By accident I was one of them.
The Tokyu security was gentle with the sentimentality of the throng of people busily recording every last detail of the station, but noisy as all security in Japan tends to be.
This good-bye is over due however. It is 1am and i am sleepy.
Was busy yesterday but wanted to remember something about the events of two years ago on this blog. Amazing how life goes on so normally; how we are busy; how we worry about different things now when just two years ago yesterday our minds were concentrated on one event only.
The power of the earthquake was shocking, even in Tokyo. In the photo above you can see old and young, men and women bedding down in the foyer of a bank, late at night. The bank had stayed open to let people trapped by transport stoppages, find a place to rest. It was an humbling day of collective stoicism that has forever changed my view on the Japanese.
A few days later while working in Iwate with the Daily Mirror journalist, Tom Parry I met people picking their lives and losses out of the mud of the tsunami. I had never met people who just had the ability to carry-on like that before. Memories were strewn across the flattened coast and for those that survived, harsher ones replaced them. It was as I said at the time, on my first day there, a day of boats in fields and houses in the sea, and also one of a recovering hope in human nature and respect for the raw power of nature itself.
What I didn’t do at the time of course was visit Fukushima. the earthquake and tsunami caused the now famous problems at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant. At the time fears of imminent nuclear catastrophe kept most sensible people away. Mis-information and out-right lies by the government and TEPCO worried and falsely reassured us in equal measure. Only a few months later as the borders of the 20 kilometre exclusions zone shut tight did I venture to its edges and record the struggle the people of that area are having as they adjust to the new reality. It is the elephant in the room: a massive, ugly thought that invades all references to the place. It is fear and loss. Perhaps not as clearly understood and obvious at the tsunami damaged towns along the coast. But even sadder in some ways. Among the poisoned fields are places that are still beautiful, still missing the people that could so easily return to them if the “beep! beep! beep!” of the Geiger counter didn’t advise them of the opposite.
Again here I have met people that though angrier (this was a man-made disaster after all and identifiable individuals and companies are culpable), are nevertheless just struggling through; just trying to make the best of what is left them, and are even succeeding in that it seems, like the Arigato Farm Project of Iwaki in the image above which is trying to make farming a local, reliable business again.
Their stories will be occupying me for the foreseeable future. Because as we move on from that time and the memories dim; the fears, empathy, anger and sense of awe at both the power of nature and our own human strengths we felt will fade also. It was a horrible time and I hope to never repeat it in my life. Yet it was a time I ma glad I lived through and got to experience first-hand for the very real understandings it gave me on the priorities of my life and the futures of the world we all inhabit. I hope never to forget those feelings
His ambitions clear in the globe he’s carrying.
Love who can run into in Shibuya.
Nice guy, wish him luck with World domination.
Busy at the moment but…
The above image was in the Guardian on Friday in a travel piece about Japan’s fashion tribes.
The famed Harajuku Sundays are a thing of the past it seems these days. I haven’t been there for years but hear that the craziness has moved on somewhere else.
Images of the cos-play scene in Harajuku and the various different fashions tribes in Tokyo still sell regularly though which is nice. Realistic licensing rates with Alamy stock though have also, it appears, moved on elsewhere .
Nice start to the day however.
Some adverse weather in The UK I hear. (nice pic on this piece by the way)
They clean the roads and footpaths pretty quickly though. I was impressed. Several metres of snow hardly affects the day to day routines of the rural Niigata. A few centimetres in Tokyo or London and everything grinds to a halt.
Busy time for me journalistically at the moment, lots on the go. Lots of plans and leads to follow. Got to keep ploughing on through it. Geddit?
I think the struggle to save the last remaining street-level view of Mount Fuji from central Tokyo is not going to create many martyrs to the cause. But some people are angry enough to start a campaign to save the view of Mount Fuji from Fujimizaka in Nippori and it has recently being getting a bit of press coverage. I went there on Friday while shooting a travel piece on this interesting area of Tokyo to see if the view is indeed worth fighting for
While it is not a stunning vista of Mount Fuji’s peak to be true, there is something magical about having that famous silhouette at the end of a quiet street as the sun sets. Certainly the famous ukiyo-e woodblock prints by Edo-era artists, that show Mount Fuji in the background of a developing urban life in Edo (modern day Tokyo) are a thing of the past in more ways than just the clothes the people are wearing. The city is larger now, the horizons are jagged with skyscrapers and yet, as the evening breeze rattled the toba in the graves of the cemetery behind me and the birds sang in a sky that felt so much wider than usual in this sometimes claustrophobic city, there was a feeling of some connection to that past. It was a past when the unhurried contemplation of beauty was the defining Japanese character trait.
We live much busier lives these days and I was joined by only a few older photographers as the sun set. Yet each person, young and old alike, that walked up or down the hill turned their heads for a second or more to take in the view. The few cars or vans that passed stopped for a bit to check the view and I could see why the residents have declared the view to be cultural heritage. the simple pleasure that all got from seeking out the smooth summit slopes of Mount Fuji from among the messy, skyline of Northern Tokyo showed that this is a experience that should be saved for others. Of the sixteen similarly named Fuji view hills (Fujimizaka) in Tokyo the one just above Nishi Nippori station is the last to actually have the view it advertises and surely that is something worth fighting to protect.
Even the view from this slope is no longer perfect however. More or less the same fight was fought over the same hill before. In 2000 the residents tried to stop the construction of a 13 storey apartment building that would block the view of the left hand side of the peak. They formed the Nippori Fujimizaka Mamorukai (Association to Preserve Nippori Fujimizaka) but were ultimately unsuccessful and the perfect profile of that most perfect of icons has forever been cheapened.
The hope is now that a large 45 storey, 160 metre tall building being planned by Sumitomo Fudosan can be stopped or the plans changed in some way that it doesn’t completely hide the peak from view. As the Fujimazaka Association says; the views are and should be made available to anyone. “We cannot stand by and let companies or individuals claim exclusive possession of these spots by obstructing them, or let city ordinances turn a blind eye to such cases.”
Mount Fuji holds a special place in the heart of most Japanese and you would think that preserving views of it would gain ready support from business and political leaders. In 2004 the Tokyo Metropolitan Government did established the Scenic Sights Law to protect the aesthetics of famous views around valuable man-made landmarks such as Tokyo Station and the National Diet Building. The implementation of the law has been left to individual ward offices to interpret however and it unfortunately does not include natural sites. The Association to Preserve Nippori Fujimizaka are lobbying to get the law changed to include natural vistas such as the ones of Mount Fuji. They have also, as in 2000, tried to enlist the help of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and its advisory body, The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), to suggest the construction’s planners needed to have a re-think. In December 2011, ICOMOS publicly supported the Fujimizaka Association by calling for just such a re-evaluation and the further development of guidelines in Tokyo to protect the remaining views of Mt Fuji.
Tatsuo Ikemoto, a member of Nippori Fujimizaka Mamorukai, says his generation have a duty to leave the landscape for future generations. To this end they are asking people to write messages of support on their website in the hope that national and international pressure can be brought on the necessity of preserving such natural vistas.
Japan is very keen to have Mount Fuji listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Indeed it rather repeatedly demands everyone understand the cultural importance and inspiration the peak has had on the nation of Japan. And it is a seriously beautiful mountain that is clearly worthy of such recognition were it not for the fact that UNESCO a few years ago found the the slopes to be covered in garbage and ugly developments. The rejection that followed still smarts and this year the Japanese are once again waiting to find out if the process will be more accommodating this time. Yet for all the love the Japanese profess for the peak, the reasons for it failure last time have not really gone away and the chances of Mount Fuji getting the World Heritage status, it would in any other place so obviously deserve, are slim. It may be sacred, it may be the iconic leitmotif of the Japanese rural soul but developers do not care enough about it to have protected it in the past or the future. Whether on the dusty slopes of the volcano itself or from the streets of Nishi-Nippori.
I do not know if the Association to Preserve Nippori Fujimizaka will be successful in shaming a new, business-friendly government intent on building its way out of a recession, into saving the last view of this mountain all Japanese are supposed to honour. I hope they are and if anything environmental protest in Japan has been emboldened recently with the anti-nuclear protests that came from people reactions to the crisis in Fukushima. But I feel sadly that this is probably a losing battle.
Will have to keep watching what happens though and enjoying the view while it still exists. (below)
It’s January 10th which of course can be written in Japan as 1/10 or 110 which is the emergency number for the police in the Japanese phone system. So the police were out in force, enjoying an unofficial day of celebration for the nation’s boys in blue.
I came across some big, self important police event in front of The Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery in Tokyo today. Lots of uniformed officers standing around, some running relay races around the gallery and even some top brass in spangly epaulets or camouflaging, and scarier, dark blue suits. It was in a public space and anyone could walk through and take a look but it didn’t seem to be a public event per se. Indeed the feeling was much more self-congratulatory with saluting officers and lots of military style shouting. The Japanese police are not my favourite people, though some of the officers there did look just a little prouder and friendlier, especially the ones driving an incongruous collection of open-topped patrol cars around.
Funny sight, interesting day.
Hoping to avoid the crowds, we went to Enoshima Shrine on January 2nd to do the New Year rituals. Of course there were a few people there but after the sun went down on a cold, very very windy day the crowds thinned and Enoshima Jinja looked quite beautiful illuminated at night.
Anyway Happy New Year to everyone who stops by here. Hope 2013 is a great year for you.
Thousands of well wishers thronged into the Imperial Palace to see the Emperor and his family great them and hear him make a short speech.
This year I decided to join the crowd a little further back than I usually do: to try to get some of the flags waving in front of the Emperor, framing him in patriotism. It was a grey cloudy day. Not the best for images, though the reflections off the bullet proof glass the family stand behind as they wave was a lot less this time. It was all over quickly, we were shepherded out and I went to send the pictures.
Pictures off, work done I had time to drool over shiny pieces of aluminium at the Apple shop. This computer I am using is getting old and it appears to the people at the genius bar in the store that many important things are starting to go wrong with it. Time for a new one I think. But need a well paying job to nudge the spare cash into new computer sort of territory.
More stock images of the Japanese emperor’s birthday greeting at my archive here. Obviously in an effort to achieve the previously stated aim.
Its a wonderful way to endure the cold. A a feature of many Japanese communities in winter:
That was a good day.
Off out shooting today for work
Just a quick update.
A Japanese salaryman walking home near Roppongi. The sun was just setting when I took. An unusually early night for the average Japanese worker many of whom are quite literally working themselves to death.
I’m not there yet but it has been a long busy Autumn with a few jobs on the go and of course shooting the Japanese election campaigns.
Christmas is nearly here time to take it a little easier in a few days.
Next year should be interesting with nuclear energy debates and protests taking centre stage again and possible worsening relationships with China and Korea if Abe does do even half the nationalist bullshit he has promised.