The other day, walking around the backstreets of Omotesando I noticed the many vacant lots and alleyways in the city, and I suddenly saw all manner of things filling up the space left by the buildings that once stood there, the gaps in-between. I think this could be an interesting subject for a photo book about Tokyo, Gaps. Vacant lots. Spaces. Buldings peeking through other buildings or the ghosts of other buildings long gone. Tokyo Gaps. Now if only I could find 6-7 extra hours to attach to each day and I’d be ready to search the city!
During the exceptionally sunny and warm Saturday we had quite a few anti-nuclear power demonstrations all around Japan, and especially in Tokyo. Here is one of the many groups I saw during the day. There were thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people on the march to protest the nuclear power industry of Japan, but in typical Japanese fashion they were divided into many smaller groups of only a few hundreds to allow for traffic and a smoother management by police who did their best to make sure that the protesters and local traffic did not have to interrupt each other more than necessary. The police you see is not stopping them and the masks are not because they have something to hide but because we are in the middle of the hay fever season: this year the pollen is exceptionally severe! You can read more about it here.
This is the strangely shaped Ao Building in Tokyo’s Aoyama district. I have blogged about this building before, but in the daytime. It looks equally stunning at night. A must visit for fans of modern architecture visiting Tokyo, and you also get pretty nice views from the garden on the backside, but I’m not sure you are allowed to take photos there!
Wow, I did it! Happy 3 years of nonstop blogging to me! Today it’s been three years since I started this little blog. Now, almost 1000 posts later, Over 1 260 000 visitors and over 7600 comments, I really can’t believe it is still going on. It’s fun to look back at the first few posts I made in 2008 and to realize that it feels like only yesterday I wrote them. I started this blog as an experiment, it was my first foray into blogging since when I started an illustration blog in 1997. Back in those days there wasn’t an fancy blog engines like this wonderful WordPress, so I had to hand code comments that were sent to me by email, back in those days it was still unusual and I remember that some people asked my why on Earth I wanted to publish emails that strangers would send me? I don’t think that the term blog was even invented. I stopped that blog after a couple of years, moved to Japan and built a new life here in this wonderful city of Tokyo. But I was frustrated reading foreigners blogs about Japan, newspapers and media sites would almost invariably focus on what was weird, strange and different about Japan. I was tired of reading glossy free papers with ads for restaurants and pubs (if I wanted to party or hang out in smoke filled cellars shouting at strangers I could have stayed in Europe). I was tired of people all over the world miss-understanding Japan and always pointing fingers “at those crazy Japanese”. While Japanese still thought of themselves as being the country of Geisha, Sushi, Samurai, Mount Fuji and Home Electronics, the rest of the world seemed to have a totally different view of Japan. So I decided to start blogging about Tokyo, and explain the city and the country, piece by piece, a picture at a time. It was difficult to find the right balance and set the tone of the blog in the beginning and it is a work that requires constant retuning and calibration, but I think I’m getting there. One of my inspirations was the site “The Big Picture” at the American newspaper the Boston Globe, which was started by a web developer (Alan Taylor) back in 2008 who saw the potential in huge, glorious, colorful photographs! Not at all like the images published in the paper or online, often only one image per article, small and obscured by text and graphics. No, I saw what the Boston Globe did and I thought I could do the same for Tokyo! Large images, no watermarks or text or silly “Photography by Someone @ Photography.com” text to ruin the picture. I also wouldn’t take any stories from online sources. If someone already did it, what is the point of repeating yourself online? Certainly not everything I post is original, but it is all from real life, using only subjects and things that I run into in real life. I don’t source anything online, I don’t ask anyone for inspiration, I don’t look anything up only to blog about it. In short, I blog about the things I run into as a quite typical lover of Japan and all things Japanese.
But there was one more thing I didn’t want to do, that most other blogs are doing: making fun of something, or ridiculing something. I would only blog about things that I encountered that were positive, fun, over the top, interesting or educational. My main goal was not to fall into the trap of so many other sites or media reporting about Japan: “look at those weird Japanese”. And I think it works. I think that the comments I get to the blog are more respectful, fun, learned, insightful and positive than many other media sites out there. There’s very little negativity here, and that is the way I like it! Tokyobling is about all the good, interesting or at least picture worthy things anyone could discover for themselves here in Japan, if they just took the time to open their eyes and hit the pavement.
I got slightly tired of blogging a month or so after the big earthquake, but that was probably just stress from all things going on and I was back on track after a bit of refocusing myself. Recently I have started posting twice a day, to be able to post stuff that I normally wouldn’t because I didn’t waste my “big post of the day” on something too minor or uninteresting.
It’s been three years. Let’s hope that I can keep doing it for another three years! At least!
I end this rather egotistical and self centered post with two of the nicest people I have ever met. Hiroshi, and his human buddy Yasushi, taking a bow for the audience after their show on a street corner in Tokyo’s Aoyama district. Imagine me doing something like that, for you my audience, and then imagine me getting a monkey’s foot on my head. That is Tokyobling, dancing in a very small circle (Tokyo apartments are small), to celebrate three years of blogging. Enjoy!