Thursday, August 09, 2007

Soy Sauce and Takoyaki

Today was my last location shoot before heading back to England for a couple of weeks. We left at 7:30 from the studio and headed to Kariya city, south of Nagoya, where I had worked for 5 years as an Elementary school "English Teacher" (pet). I was excited about going back there. Throughout those 5 years I toured 8 schools each month. In total I reckon to have come into regular contact with about 8000 children. I was hoping to meet some of them again.

The shoot was for a free magazine in the Nagoya/Mikawa region. Luckily it was all digital. Film photography takes a great deal more effort and concentration for the assistant and cameraman, and today was another one of those barmy humid and hot days that have you standing in shadows without realizing it. Concentration becomes an effort rather than a pleasure.

We visited 7 different locations in all, including a Soy sauce factory, an outdoor sports shop, a ramen shop, a public bath house dating back from the early showa period and a Takoyaki/Okonimiyaki izakaya. My experience in Japan finally proved useful today as I knew all the short cuts between different areas of the city. Something for the gravestone.

Five of us in two cars. The cameraman and myself, the designer, a copywriter and a location organiser. We have worked together before, and there was a casual comfort in this. Each has a job to do, and knows the other can do theirs. As a freelancer one can never be sure who you will be working with from one day to the next. Some you cherish that bit more, some you barely think about, and some you can't wait to see the back of hoping never to meet again. The people that stare at me in confusion/fear/amusement/derision etc when we are working together fall into the latter group.

The Soy Sauce factory was interesting for it's huge wooden barrels, the outdoor shop for it's gear (I worked in an outdoor shop for two years during my rock climbing maniac period), the public bath displayed a lack of care and distinct devotion to (or reliance on) local patrons, and the Takoyaki shop proved to be an education in how to eat a Takoyaki. Those batter balls with a piece of octopus in the middle are usually eaten piping hot, stuffed whole into the mouth on a cold winters day making you say "ouch, sh*t, hot.....". We ate the Takoyaki after photographing them, giving them a chance to cool down. In this way I discovered their delicious creamy taste and the simple rule that to enjoy Takoyaki you should let them cool down first.

The route home once again gave me a chance to prove my local knowledge as I took us by unmarked road under the bullet train tracks to a highway entrance in the north of the city. Having not met a single former student during the whole day, I spotted one on the main drag. Noting that she had grown in height, obtained the teenager's ignorance of her surroundings prefering the mobile mail in her hand, and seemed to be in a rush, I thought better of offering up a greeting, and instead mulled over the idea that things change, one will be forgotten by children and cats if you are not there, and the need to buy a plug adaptor before I leave on Wednesday.

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