Photobook Showcase

The Griffin Museum of Photography will be hosting events around publishing and the photo book on March 26th. From 10 am to 1 pm, Viginia Swanson will be hosting To Be Published, or Self Publish? From 2 pm to 4 pm, self-publishers, including us, will be showing their work during the Photobook Showcase. We will have copies of our latest book Tsukiji: Tokyo Fish Market Suite available. We hope to see you there.

Holiday Illumination

tokyo_holiday_illuminationIlluminations are part of the holiday season. These lights are in Tokyo where Christmas is less a religious observance than a time to have fun. This is actually a small family restaurant that is in someone’s home. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Moonlight over Tokyo Bay

tokyo_moonlight_over_tokyo_bayJonanjima Seaside Park is on an artificial island in Tokyo bay. When runway B at Haneda airport is open, photographers group there to photograph the incoming planes. The lights you see on the water are ships. Just above those are aircraft lining up for their approach. The constellation Orion can be seen above the clouds on the horizon with the pleiades toward the top of the picture. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Night Flight from Tokyo

tokyo_night_flightNaomi and I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Tokyo. This is the first time for us to fly out of Haneda airport in Tokyo bay—we have always used Narita, which is far outside the city.

In most respects, Tokyo is probably as far as you can get from a natural landscape—a large part of the land in this image was “reclaimed” from the bay itself. The rivers that at one point meandered across the alluvial plane the city was built on are fixed in their path. The twenty-three wards of the metropolitan area have an average population density of 13,913 people per km². When combined with the neighboring prefectures of Chiba (foreground), Kanagawa (just in the top left corner), and Saitama, the conurbation totals thirty-three million people, about the same population as Canada, the second largest country by land area. Click on the image for a larger view.

New Years Eve in Tokyo

japan_tokyo_new_yearsNew Years is a big deal in Japan. It is simply not a party during the evening of December 31st. It begins then, but will be celebrated for the next several weeks. January is a month of firsts—the first visit to a shrine or temple (hatsumode), the first drawing of water, the first calligraphy, the first day of business, and so on.

This is the main gate to Meiji Shrine, the largest shrine in Tokyo. In the first three days of 2010, 3.2 million people visited this shrine. When you think that most people leave a ¥100 coin (about a dollar) as an offering, New Years is an important time for these places. Click on the image for a larger view.

On the Streets of Tokyo—Ameyoko

tokyo_ameyokoAmeyoko is an energetic market town. Vendors have built a warren of shops and stalls under the elevated railway cutting through the city. Unfortunately, this magical part of Tokyo is under threat of development.

The pandas you see are part of an advertising campaign. You might be forgiven to think they are promoting a new toy store or the nearby Ueno zoo, especially with the excited young boy following them. What they are announcing is a pachinko parlor. Pachinko is a type of vertical pinball machine used in gambling. Click on the image for a larger view.

Tsukiji Fish Market—Part 5

tsukiji_end_of_dayBy nine o’clock in the morning, the market is deserted. Everything has been washed down and left to dry. The only sign of life is an occasional cat scavenging for food. With the surrounding city coming to life with the business of the day, Tsukiji resembles an abandoned factory rather than a vibrant fish market. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Tsukiji Fish Market—Part 4

tsukiji_marketTsukiji wholesale market, which trades in seafood and produce, covers about 22.5 hectares/56 acres with the fish market taking up the majority of the area. Built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, much of the architecture dates back to its opening in 1935. The large, curved structure, which typifies the market, houses the intermediate seafood wholesalers. The auction areas are just outside that on the waterfront. Ongoing renovations have made the buildings a warren of passages and alcoves. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Tsukiji Fish Market—Part 2

tsukiji_frozen_fishJust after midnight, trucks with frozen tuna roll into Tsukiji Fish Market. They are there for the early morning auctions. When the workers open the back doors of a truck, they pull the fish out onto a large tire on the floor to break its fall. The tuna is then dragged over the concrete like a huge ice cube and placed in orderly rows.

One night, I was standing on the wharf between a tuna truck and the water. The men unloaded some fish. They swung the doors shut. The truck slowly rolled forward as if it is was leaving. It stopped. Suddenly, the truck roared into reverse and shot backwards. The driver hit the brakes and the load of frozen fish in the back of the trailer hurtled toward the closed doors, hitting them like repeating cannon fire. The men swung the doors open and continued unloading the cargo. Although, when it happen, I was not thinking about what they were doing. I was wondering which was the better choice, getting run over by a fish truck or jumping into Tokyo Bay. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Tsukiji Fish Market—Part 1

tsukiji_three_men_and_fishJust a stone’s throw from the center of Tokyo is Tsukiji Fish Market. A small city unto itself, this area has a life and vitality that is not really reflected in the offices of the metropolis. Click on the image for a larger view.

Kanda, the Book District of Tokyo

life_in_tokyo_kanda_bookshopsWhen Tokyo was being built in the 17th century—it was called Edo then—the city was planned into districts and quarters based of crafts or markets. Starting with the Confucian academy in the late 1600s, Kanda became a center of learning and publishing. These divisions blended and dissolved with the growth of the city. Today, the streets of Kanda are still punctuated by small used bookstores.

As someone who grew up reading, walking into a bookstore in Japan was really humbling. You figure there would be enough information to at least find major categories of books, like photographic books. It is not that easy. If you really want to know how debilitating illiteracy is, visit a Japanese bookstore.

The Torii: a Sacred Gate

tokyo_meiji_jingu_torii_2Most shines in Japan are marked by a gate called a torii. As the worshipper passes through the gate, it symbolized the transition from the mundane world into a sacred space. This gate is at Meiji Shrine, the largest shrine in Tokyo. The structure just beyond the gate is the ablution pavilion, or temizuya, where worshippers will rise their mouth and wash their hands as a purification rite.
Futon Daiko - William Ash