Saturday, 3 December 2016

Japan I: Lost in Tokyo

The delay in posting these really shows how my focus had shifted in the last year when it came to my pictures. I used to love sitting down to edit when I knew I'd taken a good batch on a good day. A day of adventure always meant a few hours of reliving it & trying to make the pictures reflect a little of how I felt taking them. That feeling stopped this year, and trying to get it back was part of the reason for starting another 365. In the most mundane way possible, I think part of the reason for the lack of interest was the slow decline of my iMac. It's gradual decline makes editing so much more laborious than it needs to be.

All that being said, I did get around to edit & uploading the photographs from my trips this year. I've split Japan into 3 places, rather than a chronology, just to try & give my general experience of the place, rather than the way I went about it. I must admit, however, that all this feels so long ago now. My photographs will probably provide more of a clue into my time there than my words, but I'll see what I can pull together.

One of the first things I did after arriving in Tokyo, after having a big-ol-sleep & having dinner with my cousin, was go to the Miyake Issey exhibition at the National Art Centre. They had a Renoir exhibition too, but absolutely no buggering chance I was going all the way to Japan to look at some Impressionists. I don't even like the impressionists!

The exhibition itself was very cool & interactive, & full of fashion student tourists talking about pleats, which went straight over my head. The building itself was pretty cool, too, but mainly inside looking out. It;s a building of many lines & textures, which I dig.

I've got to admit, I spent a large part of my time in Tokyo getting lost. But then, I suppose, isn't that the point? I am a determined walker when I go away, so I end up covering ridiculous amounts of ground on foot, even when I don't really have to - but especially when I go the wrong way. Being lost in Tokyo wasn't exactly as terrifying as I had imagined, to be honest. It probably helped that I always knew I had my cousin at the end of a phone if anything truly went wrong. Otherwise, I'm happy to sling on my backpack & take a stroll.

You really can't argue with some of the Japanese stereotypes. These beautiful gardens are in the centre one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world. There are koi swimming in ponds, next to twisted trees, under tiny bridges. It's beautiful, there's no other word for it.

I became a bit obsessed with this stuff during my travels. Partly because it was cheap & readily available in vending machines. I did not capture an image of my favourite stuff, however: Orange Coke.

Despite generally trying to walk about, Tokyo is so huge that you usually need to get some sort of public transport before setting off on foot. I tried to squeeze in as many districts as possible, to get a flavour of the different aspects of the city, although admittedly without experiencing many of them in depth.

The Meiji Shrine was one of my favourite stops. Actually, visiting shrines & temples in general was a very rewarding experience. Admittedly, I have a habit of getting angry at (usually) American school kids making a racket & either not knowing, or not caring about the traditions, customs, and appropriate behaviours for these places. Personally however, once I got over the feeling-silly-for-being-an-atheist thing, they were very beautiful and calm places. I can see how people find solace.

Harajuku was not at all what I anticipated. A relatively small area, with relatively few Harajuku girls, and nothing nearly as outrageous as I was expecting, I did buy a pair of awesome sunglasses for 400 yen, but they quickly fell apart.

It took me a while to realise why I recognised this place. Probably more than it should have done. I think all the talk about the hectic Shibuya is either a little over-hyped, or I caught it on a quiet day. Although, I did go back twice. Sure, it was busy, but no busier than somewhere like New York - no busier than you would expect for a city of this size. The crossing itself is a traffic nightmare, but it's far more fun to watch people weave together from above. At ground level, it feels like crossing any other busy street.

The Snoopy Museum was a regular delight; a fantastically designed building, a beautiful exhibition, and such a fun idea to boot. Considering how small the exhibition is in the grand scheme of things, it takes a while to get around, as you follow the narrative of the cartoon and the life of its creator simultaneously. Even the comic strips were brilliantly framed and hung. It's just so nice when good ideas come together.

One of my last images of Tokyo was of Godzilla peering out above a cinema - got to love a little bit of self-aware humour!

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