Friday, August 31, 2007

Two separate reports say that...

...the population of dogs in Japan has exceeded the population on children under 10, and that there are an estimated 5400 people living in internetcafes in Tokyo.

What horrifying news.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


No cloud in weeks.

And then, on the one day that the full lunar eclipse is happening, there is no sky to be seen, just clouds.

An unexpected appearance of the not very rare nimbular (that isn't a word isn't?) eclipse, when the clouds block out the sun!


Dear National Geographic Kids/Junior Scholastic/etc

The Bat and the Book.

The Yamanote-sen, the train line that runs in cycles around Tokyo, has six major stations: Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Ueno, and Ikebukuro. All of these stations are very large, very busy, and very crowded. Ikebukuro, the second busiest train station in the world, serves almost 3 million people a day! It has seven train lines running through it, with an eighth currently under construction. Not your small, friendly neighborhood corner store.

And yet, there they were, two boys, not older than 13, standing around in the station on a summer evening, reading comic books. Covered in dirt and smelling of sweat, the two boys, apparently on their way home from their baseball game, were standing reading the latest issue of a comic collection.

Baseball, often called bay-su-bo-ru or yakkyu (field ball) is the most popular sport in Japan. Many children start at very young ages trying to get into the schools with the best baseball programs. School sports don't start until middle school, but all schools have entrance exams, and so if youwant to play baseball, you have to study hard! High school baseball is a national phenomenon, recieving more press coverage than college sports, with the national tournament, Koshien, getting similar coverage to NCAA sports in the USA! Young children dream of getting onto the good teams, making their passion their profession and becoming pro players, and, thanks to players like Ichiro, Matsui, and most recently Matsuzaka, even overseas!
However, everybody needs a break sometimes, and who doesn't like comic books? Manga, is another national phenomenon, which, like baseball, has recently started coming to America. Manga, sometimes known as comikku, from the English 'comic', is really just that: Japanese comic books. The format is different, but the idea is the same. The range of readers is much greater than in America, but that is because of the enormous variety of the comics. Shonen (young boy) comics, like the one seen here, are coming more and more in the US thanks to one of the leading publishers, Shonen Jump. Ninjas, ghosts, pirates, aliens, robots, etc, etc; very similar to what you might see in American comic books. One genre that you won't see however, is sports. There are a very large number of sports comics from the usual baseball, soccer, basketball, American football, to the unusual rugby, boxing, swimming, and many more! They are probably written to inspire the kids, or to help keep their minds on the game, even when they are resting their bodies.
So, go out there, practice hard, and when you get tired, come home and sit down with a nice book. Comic book that is!
Feel free to edit anything you see fit.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Is it possible to do photojournalism that isn't cultural? All of the photos that I have taken and would write about and then send to US magazines would be about cultural differences. I'm not sure if this is what I want to do. Is it possible not to?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Photojournalism. This post is a work in progress.


6. Discuss how image and story work together in newspapers and magazines. What can a visual image communicate that a written story cannot? What can a story communicate that a visual image cannot?

I have the same question, worded slightly different due to our lovely English language, written in my notebook from several days ago. I also focus on the pictures themself, how and why they are portrayed as they are and why some support words while others are supported by words.

I went to a camera store today to drop some film off, I had wanted to try my hand with my old junky Minolta SLR that I got at a flea market for 20 bucks. Just for the hell of it, also known as I was a fool, or at least someone who at many points in their life has wanted to be a photographer, I went to the pro camera section. They had some of the cameras out for people to see what they were like, and I tried my hand playing with a Leica. Sweet. I looked some different ones, and then got into a nice long conversation with one of the guys working there. He said to me that Leicas were cheap. I laughed out loud. No no, he told me, they are on sale. I went over and looked. Usually around 4,500 dollars, a Leica MP, with lens, brand new, 2000 bucks. Wow. A sign? Many of the great photojournalists, Capa and Cartier-Bresson for example, two of the men who founded Magnum Photos, used Leicas. I gave it a thought, did some thinking, called my brother, talked with him for a while (this is the same brother who told me to go ahead and take the jump and get a really nice camera so that I would be more inclined to use my nice equipment) and he said that if I REALLY wanted it, he would help me pay for it.

I thought it about a little longer.

I went to one of most famous camera stores in Japan, and looked at all of the cameras there, looked at what there was, and then asked one of the guys who worked there.

I asked him, or at least as well as I can remember and then translate "If you look at history, most great photojournalists used Leicas, but, in this increasingly digital age, does it make any sense for me to be using film at all?"

We had a very nice talk.

They simple answer to that question is 'no'. Film is expensive, harded to save, and you still have to ship around the world to your publisher when you are out in the field. Digital can be done wirelessly, very quickly, saved easier, etc, etc. However, there was one point he made quite clear, and I agreed with those ideas before he even said them to me, and that is that everyone should try using film. Sure you could start learning on a digital camera, but on that, the camera does most of the work for you anyway, where as when you start on a full manual film camera, you have to learn exactly how cameras work before you can take nice pictures, even if you have a really great subject or composition. Once you have that working nicely, take that knowledge onto a digital camera and then you can tell the camera which really nice pictures to take. If you want your pictures displayed in a newspaper or magazine, it seems like everybody uses digital, but if you want you pictures in a museum, shoot film. This gets me into a tricky art/usefull problem that I often see in calligraphy, too.

I wonder about National Geographic. It has been my dream since I first started reading the magazine, like, kindergarten (Thank you Grandpa!) to have my pictures in NationalGeo.

One thing about Leicas, is that they are not SLR cameras, but Rangefinders, which are much different. I asked the guy if it made any sese to learn cameras on a rangefinder and then take it to a digital SLR. Not really.

So, when I get rich and famous, or maybe just able to scrape enough money and can justify it I will get a Leica. I think for now I will wait until I get back to the States, take my dad's not crappy SLR and learn on film (even though it isn't fully manual) and then try for a digital SLR.

Oh yeah, did I say that I had an interest in photojournalism?

ps. I have almost finished revising something I wrote about these pictures that I took last week. Once I get it all written out I will post it and the pictures, and then all of my lovely readers and edit it for me, and then I can send it Junior Scholastic or National Geographic Kids or something like that.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I turned my application in!!!!
That was the application for the certificate of eligibility, which helps me get my visa faster!
Now, thanks to bureaucracies, I just have to wait.

I hate wait.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Moving alone.

After a difficult day full of contemplating photography and photojournalism, internal confliction about photography and art, photography and calligraphy, I came home very, very tired.

I was only to be cheered up by a letter from my calligraphy teacher containing the final forms for my visa application.

I will go to immigration and turn in the paperwork tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I have a bunch of simple little things that need to be done, but no matter how I look at it, I can't seem to do them. Now, when I say simple, I could mostly likely get several done in less than an hour, and yet, I am unable to do it. Should I fail in my task of filling out those forms, I will not be able to apply to for a certificate of eligibility, which in turn will cost me my visa.

Several people have told me that I should write several things down, and I can't get that done either, just little to-do-lists and such, captions for my hundreds of photos (my mom wants me to send them magazines), and other such nominal tasks.

I find myself unable to list a pen, an so I end up sitting in my pajamas in a massage chair watching TV until often past noon.

I can't remember (don't know) why I came back, does that mean that I shouldn't do it again?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

24 hours.

I appalled with my ability to accomplish absolutely nothing. Ever.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pictures taken from a Ricoh Caplio R6

1) Tokyo Bay Firework Festival

2) Clouds and telephone wires as seen from a window at the Fukuda's new house

3) Me and my buddy buddha

4) Into the wild blue yonder

5) Sunset from the edge of the platform at a train station

Monday, August 13, 2007

Art and Me.

I used to think, mostly because everyone around me always told me so, that I was a creative and intelligent person. And yet, I am so conflicted over art, and it drives me mad. I can neither paint/draw/write/shoot anything that I like (creative), nor do I feel like I appreciate or understand lots of things that I look at (intelligence).
I watched the above movie trailer and was once again thrown into turmoil.

I have recently been laboring over where calligraphy falls into the art world. I used to love it because of words. I used to like words (another one of those intelligence things. just for the record, I have stoppen reading again. I am having lots or problems reading.) because of their potential power, and I felt that in calligraphy, there was no real use of the power of the words, and it was similar to a painting, just in the random(meaningless) shape of a word or words. What was the point of writing a large number of words in a very artistic way if nobody can read them? What is the difference between a character and a picture?

I never took an art class, in any of my schoolings, and it is one of the many things that I really regret. I keep trying to get much more involved in art, but have absolutely no experience, and that is a major drawback when you are trying to get into an art school.

I had a bunch of other things that I wanted to write about on this point, but I am not a very intelligent person and so not only did I not know how to properly display them (I can't write to save my life, another thing I regret), but I also forget them.

ps. to anyone who ever lied to me about how 'creative' or 'intelligent' I am, I won't say I hate you for it, but I greatly resent it. Please keep that in mind before you think of giving empty, lying, compliments.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Digital Camera

I don't like digging into the pockets for big purchases ( I prefer to spend way too much money on little things and then complain about not knowing where all my money went). I also couldn't really decide which camera too get, and I also fell in love with Digital SLRs.

Oh well. Today I went out and bought the Ricoh Caplio R6, a 2gig! card and a case, for about 300 bucks. Damn, way way way super cheap.

we should see pictures up soon.

I often think I would like to be a photographer.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Harry Potter.

Today was all about Harry Potter. Not only did I see the latest movie, but I also finished the last book!

I was 10 years old when I first read the books, the point when Harry too, was 10. Throughout the series, I always felt a little connected just by the fact that we were the same age, and we were growing up together. I am mostly over that feeling having open my eyes to more of the world, but it was still fun to read the last book. Instead of paying 40 bucks for the UK edition, I spent 4 consecutive days going to my favorite bookstore, taking a copy off of the shelf and reading for several hours.
On the second day, I was sitting in the same chair reading the same book as the first day, I would take a break to watch the people around me reading, see what they were doing, seeing that they were reading. The girl sitting next to me, after a short conversation with her sister, turns to me and says in English "My sister says that you were sitting in the same chair reading the same book yesterday, too." To which I responded with a simple "yup." And that is how I met Jaemin and her sister. Her sister lives in Japan (they are Korean, I could tell without them needing to tell me, which, as always happens, they did) and Jaemin was just visiting. She had studied in America for a year, and spoke pretty decent English from, an, art student at some Korean National Art School. We chatted for a while, went out for coffee, hung out, met her sister and some of her friends for dinner, and we might hang out again. Even if we dont, I love change meetings like that, and wish that they would happen more often.

Side note: on Thursday, I had a lesson from a teacher, who I really like, like his work, like the things we talked about after the class, liked the class, liked his manner, I think I will ask him to sponsor my visa. Only problem is that he is only 23, and I don't know if that will be OK. By the way, he has been doing calligraphy for the past 20 years (since he was 3) so at least he knows what he is doing. I really enjoyed talking with him, but had some other things going on in my head at that time, so I couldn't ask him at that moment.

Back to Harry. I finished the book, which I thought was OK, I felt a little disappointing, but mostly a decent finish to a decent series.

Then I say the movie with a friend. The movie was also decent, but definately not great. I liked a lot of the spell effects, but not the 'lets-play-catch' kind of feel that came whenever they cast the spells. I liked the Deatheaters masks' (never say the 4th movie so hadnt seen them before) and really liked the Department of Secrets, both the black walls and the prophecy room. I thought the main hall at the ministry with the big poster of the Minister was pretty sweet.

All in all, at least half decent.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I loathe military time.
I was supposed to go hear the famous Japanese architect Kurokawa Kisho talk about the great Le Corbusier today. But, I thought the talk was at 4, and it turned out the talk was actually at 14:00, which means 2, which means that I missed the talk.

I have been having a lot of trouble with me and architecture recently. I didn't finish either of the competitions I started, I didn't go to the two day workshop I had planned on going to, and haven't followed up on a single architecture connection.

I had a really hard time at calligraphy last night, and am having lots of comflicting [insert proper word here] about just about everything.

On the plus side, I heard a great line that I feel fits me really well: "You'd better find somebody to be happy with, because if you keep hanging around with you, you are going to want to kill yourself."

Friday, August 03, 2007

I hate the world.

In the 48 hours or so since my camera broke, I have missed so many things that I thought would be great photos. I missed the end of the baseball team that my team won meaning they will go to the national championships again, I missed a beautiful sunset, I missed some beautiful scenes from the train over the 'sea of Tokyo' that I love so much.

I went looking for a new camera but I just couldn't find something that I liked, I tried taking pictures with them, but I just couldn't take one that I liked!


Thursday, August 02, 2007


I took my camera in to get repaired, the guy said it could take up to a month and up to 200 bucks. Maybe I should just get a new one?

I also have to wait for paperwork to come in from the states and also have to wait to meet calligraphy teachers in order to turn in paperwork for my visa application, and once I get that turned in I have to wait even more for my visa!

What ever happened to instant gratification?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I think my camera broke. The lens wont retract when I push the off button, and whenever I push the on button the screen tells me to turn the power off and then on again. And worst of all, it broke just before Teikyo won the East Tokyo League Baseball Tournament, which meant that I couldn't take pictures of the awards ceremony or some of my friends.

I went and watch the game, cheered, we won, are going to nationals, I might go if I have time.

Not doing much. I bought a study guide for the national exam, just the math part. Fuck. I have forgotten everything I have ever learned.

In another rut, I can't find anything that I really want to do, nothing that makes me feel good when I do it. Life is dull.