New Sights, New Perspectives

After living in the same part of Tokyo for ten years, we recently moved out of the city… way out of the city. Now we live on top of Mt. Akagi in Gunma Prefecture. It’s a bit of a tourist spot but there are only about ten families that live up here year around. I’m surrounded by new sights and sounds. I always enjoyed the neighborhood where we lived in Tokyo and it was undoubtedly one of the greenest spots in Tokyo. Nevertheless, when it came to neighborhood strolls with a camera, I must confess that I was struggling to create original images. It felt like everything that caught my eye or captured my interest was something I had photographed numerous times already. Of course, the truly creative artist often inspires us by finding new angles and views in the midst of some of the most familiar surroundings. Alas, I’m more of a hack than creative artist…

Nevertheless, I am absolutely thrilled to be in a new location and especially one that is so rich in nature. Sadly, most of my time so far has been spent unpacking boxes and trying to get the house set up. Last Thursday was yet another busy day. The phone company guy was coming in the morning to get our telephone and internet up and running. Then as soon as he left I had to make a dash for Tokyo (a 3-4 hour trip) to teach an evening class at the seminary. Then I would spend the night there, teach another class Friday morning and then make the long drive back to Gunma in hopes of getting to city office before they closed.

Yet, when I woke up Thursday morning I was feeling really relaxed and well rested. It was around 6:30AM and the whole mountain was wrapped in warm sunlight. I grabbed the Mamiya 6 and loaded a roll of Neopan 100, mounted the wide angle 50mm lens and headed out the door. Just a couple hundred meters up the road is a lovely marsh called Kakumanbuchi. It has a boardwalk along the south side and it takes about 30 minutes to walk around the whole thing. When the weather is nice it provides one of the most pleasant morning walks imaginable.

Suddenly the question wasn’t “what shall I shoot?” but rather, “how will I make this roll of film last beyond the first five minutes”! Last night I developed the film and this morning I finished processing it. So this is my new neighborhood! It is a completely different perspective and when I contemplate the fact that I was taking this walk in the morning and then walking the busy streets of downtown Shinjuku in the afternoon, buying more film, it makes me just a little giddy! Here are a few frames from that roll!

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