A fun photo competition hosted by Holiday Extras and judged by Melvin at Traveldudes may just help me win that iPad 2 I’ve been after! Or a wallet full of travel vouchers from Thomas Cook! Here’s hoping!
Two of my favourite Harajuku shots taken on a Sunday afternoon, show the cosplay and fantasy that young Japanese get up to when they break out of their school or work uniforms!
Today I’m posting one of my favourite street shots from Tokyo. Japan is such a fascinating and photogenic place and probably the place that inspires my photographic eye the most!
If you would like to have an original print of this photo (4″x 6″) sent to you or a friend by mail for free leave a comment below telling me which country you live in and which photo you like best. One commenter will be selected to receive the print by post. Yayyy, FREE ART!
I am using this project to connect with people from around the world, share my artwork and hopefully brighten someone’s day by bringing something online to life, to someone’s hands, eyes and home. Enjoy!
UPDATE: No comments on the blog today so I guess I’ll send this photo over to Papergirl Vancouver.
Decided to include the shoe-shot below, also from Japan, for good measure.
I love Tokyo for it’s people-watching, societal rules, busyness, conformity and attempts at self-expression. One of the best places to observe this self-expression in teenagers is in Harajuku, a common area outside Harajuku station, at the opening of Yoyogi Park and adjacent to Takeshita-dori, a Japanese teenager’s shopping haven.
Each Sunday is a sight to see as Tokyo teens gather to socialize and show off their cosplay and anime-inspired fashions. Proudly posing for the tourist paparazzi, this is one of the few places in Tokyo where the Japanese enjoy being photographed by gawking tourists.
The very first business trip that I took was in the year 2000, when I was freshly home from au pairing in Europe and just accepted to a government-funded internship program at my alma-mater, Medicine Hat College. The internship had me working with international students from Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Mexico, placing them with host families and providing student services such as assistance opening a bank account and teaching new students how to use the transportation system in the rural Alberta city of Medicine Hat.
That very internship took me to Asia for the first time ever, long before I knew anything about photography or even had a passion for it. I intrigued myself when I rediscovered the pictures I’d taken in Taipei and Tokyo on that trip more than 11 years ago. I’ve been back to both places countless times since, but will always fondly remember this time in my life as the start of something very good.
For the first time in a long while (ever?), I’ve decided to let readers in on my job. Some of you might know, I work in marketing at a private language school; the student-base is all international, college-age students and I’m fortunate enough to travel to many places for work.
Over the years I have met many thousands of international students and an impressive portion of them Japanese. I have traveled to Japan countless times, have Japanese friends, colleagues, students, former roommates. For these reasons I feel especially saddened by and concerned about the challenges presented to the Japanese people since March 11th’s earthquake and tsunami. I’ve dedicated my yoga practice (!) each day this week to Japan; sending all my prayers to those students & their families, my friends & colleagues across the pacific. ♥
On that note, I have to say I’m so impressed by the rallying of the teachers, staff and students in the school to raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross. Today the students had a lunch-hour auction and second-hand sale. Students bought Vancouver Giants tickets, used snowboards, books, games, clothes. I’m really proud of everyone’s effort and spirit.
Please take some time to consider donating to the Japanese Red Cross and also check out the good work Google Crisis Response is doing.
Finally, it seems fitting to share a few photos I took in Japan.
In my travels, I’ve had the opportunity to stay in various furnished apartments and serviced residences here and there. Nothing quite compares to the Oakwood Shinjuku in it’s ultra-modern, Japanese glory but there are a couple of other places that deserve mention. Since the former Oakwood Shinjuku no longer takes short-term rentals, I was referred to the Citadines Shinjuku a close comparison. Both apartments offer sleek, fully furnished units in high-end buildings in super central locations. You won’t go wrong here.
In comparison, and a relatively good option on the other side of the world, is the Filyos Residence in Istanbul. This 19th century renovated building is set along the Golden Horn, an historic inlet of the Bosphorus. Offering beautiful views from the balconies and walking distance to places such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and Kadir Has University, Filyos Residence is the right place to stay for weeks or months. Rooms are perfectly furnished including everything you need to get started on your adventure in Istanbul (wi-fi, hairdryer and other essentials).
I previously told you about the M Chereville
residences in Seoul and by comparison, the Filyos & Citadines apartments are far cleaner, classier and comparative in price at approximately $60 – $130 CAD / night depending on the suite.
Thinking about getting out of Canada?
Welcome to 2010!
For the first post of the year, I thought I would share just a couple of feel-good photos I found on my phone recently.
Love your life
Love your dream
It’s a good reminder.
The days sparkle during sakura season at
Inokashira Park, Kichijoji, Tokyo.
As much as I love Japan, it perplexes me. Even in my most private of moments, I am absolutely baffled. While laughing about embarrassing Japanese toilet moments, I assured my friend, Motoko, that I could easily write a post on Japanese “comfort stations”, so here it is!
You can find some of the most basic and most complex toilets in the world in Japan. Advanced features rarely found outside of Asia, make the flushing function a mere after-thought to the Japanese. Japanese toilets have the ability to warm, wash, talk, spray, rinse, sing, dry, deodorize …. oh and even
flush. Yup they do that too. Unless of course you have the pleasure of using a squatter. Like a urinal in the ground, squatters are rather archaic and messy but can still be found in public washrooms all over Japan! Watch your step!
Modern Japanese “washlets” are so high-functioning that elaborate diagrams and maps with instructions in Japanese (and sometimes English and/or Braille!) are usually posted next to the toilet control panel. Seriously. A toilet control panel allows the user to manage the seat temperature, bidet functions, water temperature, water pressure, flushing functions, sounds and more. Faux flushing sounds can be heard with the press of a button just to cover up those noises that you don’t even want to hear yourself make! To avoid surprises make sure you read all instructions thoroughly before use!
When I was in Japan earlier this month, I made a point of snapping a few photos from the various loos I visited in Tokyo. Click on the images for a closer look!
How do you flush yours?
Whenever I go to Tokyo I visit my good friend, Akitaka Yamada, who owns a vintage clothing store in western Tokyo. I’ve known Aki for a couple of years now and he is actually a former student from the school where I work in Vancouver. Aki has 2 vintage clothing shops in Tokyo: 7th Heaven and Amber Lion.
The Amber Lion is located in the trendy area of Kichijoji
, which is also a university area, stacked with young Tokyoites, shopping, eating and studying. Kichijoji is home to many cool boutiques, restaurants and
department stores. On the edge of Kichijoji you will find Inokashira Park which is particularly beautiful in the spring with cherry trees blossoming all around the lake and those same young students drinking and picnicking in the park.
Aki travels all over Japan, US and Mexico to buy up clothing for resale in his stores in Tokyo. His shops are home to an eclectic mix of jewelry, jeans, bags, shirts and shoes. Some of those clothes are repaired or refurbished by Aki and his staff using the old sewing machine at the front of the shop.
To visit the Amber Lion, jump on the JR Chuo or Sobu line from Shinjuku station to Kichijoji station and take the south exit into the street. The store is located on the side street just behind Marui (OIOI) department store.