Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cherry Blossom Girl

IMG_1281

IMG_1266

IMG_1379



I've been longing for spring lately, and am feeling especially nostalgic for spring in Central Park, which was glorious. I've compiled some
of my favourite images from springs spent in New York, with the cherry blossoms in Central Park. I really miss the casual, exploratory vibe from
this area. I was able to go wherever I wanted, explore every nook and cranny, and interact with spaces any way I wished. I loved being able to
climb into branches or hide under a canopy of blossoms like a tent. I was able to take the kind of photos I wanted to with this freedom.

In Tokyo, the parks are beautifully and masterfully curated, but they also tend to be stiflingly regimented. All pathways are marked by ropes, all
trees and plants and most water features are behind ropes, fences, or chains, and no one would ever dare dream of climbing a tree. They are also
never ever not crowded. And so, with sakura season fast approaching, I find myself torn between feeling excited about being in the birthplace of my
favourite traditions for sakura, able to experience 'the real deal' hanami season in Tokyo, but also a little disappointed I won't have the same
freedom of creativity for photos, and certainly not the same seclusion and solitude.



IMG_4167



IMG_4286


IMG_4214





It seems funny that I'm nostalgic for solitude in Central Park- any time I took photos there, there were plenty of other people around- some stopping
to gawk, some taking photos of me without permission- and that was always awkward and frustrating. It's not like Ryan and I were ever completely alone,
but after plenty of time exploring around the park each season, I got a good feel for places a little more off the beaten path that were wonderfully
photogenic in Spring, and Ryan became a pro at avoiding getting other people in the background. If I ever thought Central Park or New York in general felt
crowded, Tokyo has totally put things back into perspective for me. I've all but given up trying to take photos most places because of the crazy crowds
everywhere.


IMG_0820


IMG_1035

IMG_0925



IMG_0839


Our situation was also just so different back in New York. Ryan was going to school, and he was done around 5pm everyday. He was open to help out with photos on weekdays during the best times for light, and we lived close enough to the park and the 'good spots' that we could just walk over in the late afternoons or evenings. So we were usually able to take photos during the most off-peak times in the park. Now, Ryan works until 8 or 9 every weekday, and I've been sick every weekend since February- So even when Ryan is available, I'm too sick, and he's too tired. I'm starting to worry I'll be too sick to even try to take sakura photos this year:( I guess we'll see.


IMG_1773

IMG_1740

IMG_1705


I sure am feeling homesick for Central Park after looking through these. It really was the best part of Manhattan for me,
and I don't know how I could have survived there without it. I'm hoping to still enjoy sakura season in Tokyo- it just feels
so much more intimidating because there's so much hype and so many expectations involved- and the same kind of feeling you
get about a popular parade- if you're not willing to get there at 5am to snag the best spot before the crowds, you might as
well not go at all. I'm going to have a lot of family portraits and shoots this sakura season, and not much time for myself
this year- and since the blooming is so fleeting, I might have to resign myself to not really getting any personal photos with
Sakura this year. It's hard to tell how it will all turn out. We'll see I guess!




IMG_2419



IMG_2442

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Plum Blossoms

IMG_7071



IMG_7062



IMG_7040



IMG_7043



There's a shrine near my neighborhood that is tucked away in some side streets and up some stairs, and it's famous for plum blossoms.
Many plum blossom trees were planted around the grounds back in the day and it's become a well-known spot for blossom viewing in later
winter/ early spring. There are lots of plum blossom themed details around, like some stone carvings, some painted lanterns, and details
in the woodwork.


It is also a shrine dedicated to cows, or perhaps a cow god- so there are several cow statues and cow themed features as well. The grounds
are quite small, and exploring is short and sweet, but there are so many delightful details to take in, and the area is quiet and peaceful.
I'm glad I live so nearby- and I was a bit sad to see the plum blossoms were on their way out when I visited- after a week or stormy, windy
days. It was a beautiful visit, nonetheless, and i'm glad I got these images to remind me of that quiet sunny late winter day.


IMG_7055



IMG_6991



IMG_7009



IMG_6986



IMG_6969



IMG_7004



IMG_7038



IMG_6972



Plum blossoms are celebrated in Japan as a harbinger for spring- a beautiful, visual queue that warmer, brighter, and more colourful days are on
their way soon. It feels a bit strange to be greeted with visuals of bright pink, red, and white blossoms while the weather is still pretty
nippy out, but it really brightens up the dismal mood that late winter tends to be associated with. Excited for cherry blossoms soon!


love,
from japan,
Kathryn

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Inokarshira Park pt 2 or : That Time I entered a Zelda Game

IMG_2911


IMG_2926


I found Mushu! Or actually maybe he looks more like the Great Stone Dragon Mushu was supposed to summon
at the beginning of the movie... This shrine and its grounds are really fun because, usually it feels like you
either get a Shinto vibe- very subtle, simple, and natural- mostly wood, stone, and plants, OR you get Buddhist-
basically the opposite. Bright colors, ornate designs and statues, intricate carvings and shapes, and often metals
like silver and gold as well.

This Shrine seems to blend them seamlessly together somehow. There are plenty of
telltale Shinto aspects, like the purification fountains, the symbols on the lanterns, and the wooden prayer plaques.
But there are also plenty of details that boast some Buddhist flare, like this large, ornate dragon spouting the
purified water, and all the bright, bold colors flanking the shrine. It was such a lovely little corner of the park-
island, actually- to explore on a late golden afternoon.



IMG_2921



IMG_2854


IMG_2867


Ok soooo let's talk about this fountain. And how it looks exactly like a Fairy Fountain from Zelda. Ever since my first visit to Japan I find myself regularly getting excited over scenes and things and details that feel like they've jumped straight out of my childhood fantasy lands of Zelda, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Sailor Moon, and Miyazaki movies. I've been meaning to start a Japan is a Videogame tumblr for a while now, with side by side comparisons of real life scenes compared to game and animated look-alikes, but that takes more time and effort than I feel like exerting these days.

But anyways, this fountain. Apparently it dates all the way back to the 1500s? Which is crazy. It looks like it came straight out of zelda and like there should be little magical orbs floating around above the water for the catching. Also, that cute little wooden sign written in kanji in front of the fountain also looks just like the little sign posts in zelda that describe or announce different things in the game and quickly become sword practise - (SLASH). Life: complete.


IMG_2859


IMG_2947


IMG_2940


IMG_2897


IMG_2933


IMG_2928


IMG_2903


Okay also we need to talk about this triforce lantern. I keep seeing this symbol around Shinto shrines and grounds and it makes me so happy. If you're a Zelda fan, you'll know why and if you're not then there's just no reason for you to care, but there you go. I think this symbol is maybe a family crest type thing or religious symbol. not quite sure. But the fact that is looks exactly like the triforce from Zelda is so fun and I love seeing it in real life. Especially because there are always temples in Zelda games too.




Love,
From Japan,
Kathryn