Shitamachi is literally “downtown.” Its connotation is that of an unchanging working-class neighborhood populated by Edokko, or Tokyoites. Tokyo has a reputation as Japan’s modern city, yet sections seem to miss the constant development. Yanaka, just north of Ueno park, is probably one of the most recognized Shitamachi.
While Yanaka is well within the modern Tokyo today, that was not always the case. The Great Fire of Meireki in 1657 destroyed 65% of Tokyo, then called Edo, and claimed over 100,000 lives. Thought to have started in a temple, the Tokugawa Shogunate moved many temples outside the city to the north. Yanaka was one of the towns created from that migration. This image is from Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness. Click on the image for a larger view.
Dragons are creatures of water, dwelling in the ocean, rivers, clouds, and rain. Koi carp are symbols of strength and perseverance. In ancient times, a school of Koi came to a huge waterfall while swimming upstream. The fish tried to jump the falls to continue their journey. Seeing their struggle, a demon made the falls higher out of malice. The fish did not give up. After a year of striving, one fish managed to reach the top. The gods, impressed with its determination, turned it and the fish that followed into a golden dragons. These Koi are in a pond in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Click on the image for a larger view.
Photobook 2015 opened in the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA, last night. The exhibition runs until March 6th. The exhibition was in partnership with the Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson, NY. The books in the exhibition can be viewed online. Along with the self-published books (including mine), there are a couple of other exhibitions of photographs on display. The museum and the town of Winchester are well worth a visit. Click on the image for a larger view.
A schoolyard nativity scene in Tokyo, with pink rabbits and Winnie-the-pooh. Note the shoe boxes where students place their footwear before entering the school building. This was one of the outtakes from Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness. Click on the image for a larger view.
The Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson, New York and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts have selected Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness for their Photobook 2015 show. The book will be at the Griffin Museum of Photography from January 16th to March 9th, 2016. Naturally, we are very pleased. We will post more about the event soon.
Takadanobaba is a town between Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. It is fairly much residential with a few universities and colleges in and around the area. This particular place is where the Zenpukuji river flows into a subterranean channel—it later resurfaces when it joins the Kanda river.