Monday, March 19, 2007

Street Show

This took place on Sunday beneath the 'Maneki Neko' (welcoming cat) in Kamimaezu, Nagoya. This is a regular event at which street performers entertain the passing crowd. When finished, they pass around the hat, tin or bag for 'appreciation money'.
"Please remember, this is a living for us, so fold the notes neatly and drop them in."

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Re: Previous post, do you think that marking the image detracts from its beauty? (-O-) V

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Gift Horse

As an old chinese lady once told me: "4 eyes, still can't see".
I just noticed this on the 'dashboard' (managing) space on this blog:

"Ever wanted to see all the photos you've uploaded to your blog in one place? Head over to Picasa Web Albums and now you can! We've been working closely with the Picasa team on this project - all the photos you've uploaded since December will appear in an album there, and we're working on migrating your older photos as well. (It'll take a while though - there are a lot of them.)"

So I followed the link, signed in, and found the terms of agreement, from which I extracted this little nugget:

"By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Picasa Web Albums, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, distribute and publish such Content through Picasa Web Albums, including RSS or other content feeds offered through Picasa Web Albums, and other Google services.

In addition, by submitting, posting or displaying Content which is intended to be available to the general public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, distribute and publish such Content for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services."

I am not so blind that I can't see a sweet deal for Picasa. You will note from the first extract that all the photos I have uploaded since December are supposedly in a file already. Presumably Google/Picasa could now use any one of them for their own promotion without paying a thing. Not that they are likely to use any of mine, but there are professional photographers blogging on this same service.

The freedom that a free blog hosting service such as this offers has allowed me to explore the web more constructively, to practice a little web presentation and to play with a variety of designs without having to learn a new coding language first. Thanks. Great while it lasted, but if this is the way they plan to take it I think it may be time to move on. The other option is to watermark and downsize all photos before uploading. Certainly simpler.

It is naive to think that any image uploaded onto the web is not open to being copied and used elsewhere, but are you really going to sign over the rights to your image to an organisation that has an intent to use them?

White Day

March 14th is White Day. In Japan it's the day for men to give valentines presents (chocolate) to that certain person. It's also the day for them to give 'Giri-chocco' (lit: duty chocolate) to the ladies at work.
The above are some scenes from the frantic buying session the night before. If they look irregularly lit, it's because (sadly) they are.
(edit) And I just realised I had left the colour temperature on a high setting after snapping a sunset the night before, giving the pics that red hue. 頭ぐちゃぐちゃ。

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ignored space

The non-existant room in school. It's the secret retreat. An exclusively male environment. It's not a designated smoking room, because that's not allowed in schools now. People just happen to smoke there. The walls are the colour of a smoker's nails. One lame wall fan extracts and a heater from 20 years ago tries to heat. The seats are the rejects from other ignored spaces, but the most used in the school.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


One of the most disturbing realisations for a foreigner living in Japan is (the realisation of) the way that foreigners are viewed by the Japanese. Depending on the person and the situation, one can go from being the embodyment of foreign cool to the sh*t on the sole of someones shoe.

I wouldn't claim that the Japanese are unique in this 'viewing' of the outsider, but like the tea ceremony, the Japanese have taken a simple thing and made an art form from it. Unlike the tea ceremony however, there is no good that can come of this, for either the foreigners or the Japanese themselves.

When you first arrive in japan, you get used to the epithet "Gaijin" (外人), an abbreviated form of "Gaikokujin" (外国人). If we look at the (chinese) characters that represent the sounds and the concept, we see that Gai (外) can be translated as 'outside', Koku (国) as 'country' and Jin (人) as 'person'. So what is the big deal about being called foreigner?

In short, nothing. However... regardless of your nationality, your level of Japanese, your involvement in the activities of daily life in Japan, or your ability to use chopsticks, you will always be a Gaijin before a native of your own country. So, for example, I will be recognised (seen) as a Gaijin before being recognised as English.

This conversation is old and tired. One might point out that ones friends don't refer to you as a gaijin. Another may say they are not discriminated against or offended by this, and why should they be? I agree, to a point. But here's the rub. This little epithet has a dark side. It is the gateway to the nationalism that is lurking in the Japanese body politic.

The foreigner as meat. The foreigner as a resource to be used and displayed. This is the dark side of Japanese history that this article refers to, and as you read it you will notice that it is an ongoing struggle to have people recognised as people, with rights the same as any other.

Denial is to politics like wetness to the ocean. This being said however, it is shocking to see such denial, and sad to see the same denial on the faces of those who should know better, or to see the ignorance of a population that, by leaving their fate in the hands of deniers, are tarring themselves with the same brush.

Not all people are ignorant, and not all deny, just as not all call me a Gaijin. I should hate such a realisation to affect the way I take photographs in Japan. I would hate to become one of the long time foreign residents of Japan whose bitterness chains them to this country (thankfully I have met only two people like that in 7 years).

Independance Day

More peace than John Lennon, racier than a Britney Spears lifestyle feature.... must be graduation day at the downtown junior high school.

Brings it all back doesn't it? Just like cheap vodka.

卒業式。ジョン レノンよりピース (-0-)v。ブリトニー スピーズのライフスタイル番組より際どい。懐かしいかな?思い出せる?(チープ ウォッカと同じように全部が戻ってくる)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

You've been promoted

A promotion in the Gold Mountain train station by the Osaka tourist board . Que for 10 minutes to play a game of chance. Win a stuffed toy, have it presented to you by a pink girl. Get promoted.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Tungsten Morning

Taken this morning while dashing for the train with the D70 on flourescent setting.