Both Tsukiji: Tokyo Fish Market Suite and Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness: Tokyo Landscape were selected for the Photobook Exhibition at Athen Photo Festival 2017. The festival runs from June 14 to July 30 at the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece.
Elementary school in Tokyo. From Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness: Tokyo Landscape. 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.
New years in Japan is a rich event. Millions of Japanese visit shrines and temples. One of the largest temples in Tokyo and one of the busiest is Senso-ji in Asakusa. This temple is famous for its gate. What it is little known for is one of the shortest rituals of the new year celebration, moja-okuri. 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.
Last Friday was the opening reception for the Visualizing Home and Homelessness exhibition at Lord Hall Gallery at the University of Maine, Orono. The picture on the left is my submission, a work from the Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness project. Please stop by if you are in the area. Click on the image for a larger view.
An outtake from our book Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness: Tokyo Landscape. Click on the image for a larger view.
It is no secret that Tokyo is a sea of buildings. Its reputation of using every inch of space is hard to imagine until you have been there. What is less known is the topography of hills and valleys throughout the city.
On the top of a hill in Shinjuku ward is Tsukido Hachiman Shrine. In its day, the shrine would have been a prominent site overlooking Edo. Today, it is hidden beneath layers of buildings. However, in spring, the cherry trees lining the approach make it hard to miss.
The stone gate, or Torii, dates from 1726 and is all that remains of the original shrine that was lost in the fire bombing of Tokyo during World War II. The bamboo trees attached to the front of the gate are in preparation for the new year celebration. The small area to the left of the gate is a children’s playground. Click on the image for a larger view.
This image is an outtake from Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness: Tokyo Landscape. It is one of the over 4,000 images that did not make it into our book.
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.
This image is one of the many outtakes of the Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness project. Less than 2% of the images I took in Tokyo appear in the book.
We are happy to announce that our forthcoming publication Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness: Tokyo Landscape will be going on sale on June 28th. You can find out more about this book here. Click on the image to view the front and back cover.
Every city has a landmark that defines it. Imagine looking over a bay and seeing lady liberty holding her torch to the sky—a colossus proclaiming to take the world’s tired and downtrodden. Behind her lies a gleaming metropolis where people come to build their dreams. The place is instantly recognizable—Tokyo. Click on the image for a larger view.
Naomi and I are excited to announce our upcoming book Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness: Tokyo Landscape. Taking inspiration from the five elements in Japanese Buddhism, Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness is a homage to a city we called home for ten years. Starting from the simple question of what is the natural landscape of Tokyo, the book weaves a quiet narrative of this city through space and time.
80 photographs, 1 illustration, text in English and Japanese, 96 pages, 8.5”x11”.
Available spring, 2015. Click on the image for a larger view.
If anyone has seen the work of the director Hayeo Miyazaki, a common motif may strike you: trees. In the movies Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princes Mononoke, powerful, towering arboreal characters appear. The early Japanese believed trees, particularly evergreen trees, were dwellings for deities from heaven. With roots firmly in the earth and branches reaching into the sky, living off the wind and sun, and lifespans greater than any human, how could these beings be anything but divine. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore said, “trees are the Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” Click on the image for a larger view.
Tokyo, like many cities, is built up of layers upon layers. Time shift those layers, removing old ones and adding new. But somehow, when you stand in front of a landscape, you feel its solidity—a sort of eternal presence. If I had taken this picture one hundred years ago, all I would see would be the water of Tokyo bay (not this canal), the horizon, and sky. Nothing you actually see in this photograph would be there. Click on the image for a larger view.
Oiwa Inari Tamia Shrine is located between Tokyo station and the Sumida river. This small shrine is connected to one of the most popular ghost stories in Japan, Yotsuya Kaidan, a 19th century Kabuki play. The story’s main character is a woman named Oiwa. Actors visit this shrine to pay respect to her spirit before performing her role.
Oiwa is betrayed by a husband that murdered her father. She is horribly disfigured by a poisoned face cream given to her by Oume, a rival for her husband Iemon. Iemon, repulsed by Oiwa’s appearance, sends an accomplice to assault her to give him grounds for divorce. His partner cannot go through with the deed and reveals the plan to Oiwa. Showing Oiwa her disfigured image in a mirror, she is incensed. In her rage, she fatally injures herself with a sword. She dies cursing her husband, becoming an onryô, a vengeful spirit. By the end of the story, her spirit is revenged. A bloody tale, but a popular one.
Click on the image for a larger view.
Tokyo neighborhoods are packed. The average single-family residence in Tokyo is 68m² or 732ft². Itabashi-ku, where this image was taken, has a population density of 16,924 people per square kilometer or 43,837 people per square mile. Itabashi-ku is at the edge of the metropolitan area. Click on the image for a larger view.