I don’t like crowded places, so by nature I have never had much of a desire to visit Japan, naive of me I know.
I was offered an opportunity recently, through non photo related work, to visit Japan so I took it. It was all a little alien for me, but one hell of an experience non the less. I wasn’t able to visit the more rural parts of Japan on this trip, which was a bummer for me because the snow in the north looks astounding right now, and even when I was graced with a little scenery like Mt Fuji, I was flying by it at 280kph on the bullet train, in an aisle seat while a lady was dead ass asleep on the window seat. I caught a brief glimpse of the mountain and rest of it’s snow capped brothers and sisters in the distance but they all lay out of my reach, and even in Tokyo I was tortured. There was snow piled in small corners of some dark alleys that showed what I had missed just a few days previous to my arrival, extraordinarily frustrating.
But, I sampled plenty of Japan’s concrete mountains and, although feeling like a penguin in the desert, they surprised me. Being accustomed when I’m away to sleeping in my car on in my swag, waking to the smell of fresh forest or coastal air, I found it a little difficult waking up to smoggy air and getting on a subway with hundreds of people, I don’t think I could ever become accustomed to that lifestyle. But that is Japan, and that’s what makes it the insane place that it is. I ate a whole bunch of food that for the most part I hadn’t even heard of before, I took maze of intricate subway systems and towered over every single person around me. Japan’s cities are busy places, but they are full of kind people, amazing food and everything seems to run with impeccable precision.
Unlike Australia, every worker seemed to do their job with the utmost care and dedication. I landed alone in Osaka around 10pm, and after getting through all the check and what not it was getting on to 11. I needed a sim card for my phone otherwise I might as well have been on the moon. So I went to the only place I could see that was open and a lady greeted me. I explained the best I could that I needed sim and she frantically, but very calmly looked around her stall and then indicated she would be right back. She then left her shop and booked it (in high heels) down the hall to a little store room, then returned a few moments later with a sim, helped me set it up and was continuously apologetic for feeling as if she had kept me waiting. A short time later my sim was working and I thanked her in my first poorly spoken bit of Japanese, and she sent me on my way with a huge smile. By this time it was nearly midnight and a taxi was going to be far too expensive to get to my hotel so my only other option was the subway. Upon arriving at the station, I starred in complete disarray at the map but it was useless, so after wandering around the station for a little while a man dressed in some kind of platform worker uniform came over and in his best English offered me his help. He took me to the machines and I showed him on a map where I needed to go. He bought me a ticket because I didn’t have any coins and sent me on my way with a huge smile. As I sat weary eyed on my train watching the lights of Osaka fly by my window, I thought about where I was and how out of place I was, but also how the generosity shown to me by those two people impacted the beginning of my trip.
I have never been much of an urban photographer, which probably shows in the images below, but I did my best in the short time I had in Japan’s biggest cities. I’m glad that my first overseas trip was to a place I never thought I’d go, not out of unlikeliness, rather just personal choice. I’ve never been one for seeing whats outside of my comfort zone, but there are always multiple benefits to doing so. It pushes me to create, it pushes me to grow and adapt to various situations. From a young age I always found that a frightening thought, but as I am getting older and experiencing a little more, it is instead becoming more and more attractive. I’m not implying on living outside of my comfort zone, for me it is important to have that anxiety free place of calm, because It’ll be scary sometimes and just plain uncomfortable others, but i’m learning to be okay with that.
Tokyo fish market, 5am.
My Langly has been to many places with me, but business class is a new one. I somehow snagged it for one leg on my way over, and my return flight.