Shinjuku Station, in central Tokyo, is said to be the busiest train station in the world. In 2007, the station was used by an average of 3.64 million passengers per day. The station has more than 200 exits. On Wednesday November 21st, 2007, around 8 PM, I filmed one of these exits for exactly 1 minute.
A few observations about this minute: Nobody looks at me at all as I stand there filming. There’s a pause of about two seconds in the middle where no one walks through, but otherwise there’s certain seconds where six people walk through. I love how adept the people are – there’s only 1 or 2 out of about a 100 people who even slightly fumble with their tickets, while there’s a few people who almost enter and then hesitate and walk away.
Yesterday, despite warnings to go outside because of the rain mixed with yellow wind of China, I walked up the small mountain behind my apartment. It disappointed me to realize that all up the mountain there were cherry blossom trees, where the cherries had already blossomed, and were already falling off and scattered across the ground. It is a beautiful to see the cherry blossom petals scattered, like a spring snow — but already they were really scattered, really days past their peak.
I somehow missed it. Japanese obsess over cherry blossoms to the point that you get sick of hearing about them, when you live there. I’ve watched NHK (Japan’s national network) a lot lately, and seen all the reports of the blossoms. I guess they bloom in Seoul and Tokyo at about the same time.
The Japanese word for cherry blossom is “sakura.” There is even a word for a cherry blossom in its later stage, when it has leafed and the blossoms are beginning to fall — that is “hazakura.” There is a certain type of person who prefers the “hazakura” to the “sakura” — it’s like the first glimpse of beauty compared to the last glimpse of beauty — which is better?
(This footage was taken about one year ago in Kamakura, Japan — a very cool little town an hour down the coast from Tokyo. The town is famous as the hometown of director Ozu and for its gigantic outdoor Buddha statue.)
I filmed several minutes of water textures and surfaces in the Hiroshima Peace Garden. It’s been a few years, and I can no longer recall the exact significance of the water works. I love these textures, and I might try to do something more elaborate with them at some point. For now, I’ve just spent 45 minutes or so trying different combinations in Final Cut Pro, but don’t yet have a specific work in mind.
The individual water sequence clips should also be really good for VJ footage.
Here is the Genbaku Dome at night. It was over this building that the atom bomb detonated in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, killing over 70,000 people instantly. While the surrounding area was completely devastated, this building remained standing. The building does have such a spooky feel. A hollowed out shell that looks ancient. The moon looks on indifferently.
This electronic sign was filmed in front of the Shimane prefectural office. The basic message is: “Takeshima Island belongs to Japan.” The island is known as Dokdo in Korea. Koreans insist the islands belong to them. In the weeks and months leading up to the day when I filmed this (March 2005), the issue had been in the international news. Here’s a link here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4352923.stm
Since I’ve lived in Japan and now live in South Korea, I have to admit the dispute interests me. Both sides have convincing arguments. And considering the country’s are relatively small (more so Korea, not so much Japan) and have fishing cultures, it’s no wonder this is a hot-button issue. For its part, my own country, Canada, has its own island disputes with some of its Northern neighbors.
In the above film, we see again this controversial sign, as well as the home and a statue of Lafcadio Hearn. One of Matsue’s (the capital of Shimane prefecture) claims to fame is that it was the home of Lafcadio Hearn, one of the most celebrated non-Japanese to have ever lived in Japan. In the 19th century, he translated numerous Japanese works into English, and did much to spread Japanese culture to the world beyond.
Somewhere on a mountain above Osaka. The moonlit night. The white glow of the city.
The moon follows me everywhere on this trip. I love the tree. It somehow makes it clear I’m in an Asian city. Canadian cities don’t look like this from above.
A 5 X 5 (five scenes, five seconds) arrangement of scenes from Kamakura, Japan, filmed in March 2005. It starts with a camera pan through a sakura tree, a view of the giant Buddha, and then scenes of surfers. Kamakura is one of the most popular surf spots near Tokyo, and can be legendarily crowded on certain days.
It’s also famous as the hometown of celebrated Japanese film director Yasujiro Ozu.
I hear it said that Tokyo looks like the moon. I think the reason this gets said is its abundant silver lighting. Walking through central Tokyo in the semi-quiet middle of the night makes me think of walking through a moonlit forest.
In contrast, Seoul, where I live now, is much more lit by orange lighting. Contrast the Tokyo scene above with the Seoul scene below. I think many people don’t consciously think of it, but it is both the way the city is artificially lit at night and the way the sun lights it (or not) during the day that contributes to each city’s own visual look – but it seems the lighting scheme crosses most of the cities of a particular country.
A 5X5 edit of relfections in Osaka’s Dotombori Canal.
One of the places reflected is the sign for a hotel. Somehow, the scene here makes me think of the sign in Wong Kar-Wai’s latest film, 2046.
scene from 2046
Anyway, I just arrived in Osaka on a flight from Korea. I’m here to change my visa status at the Korean consulate. This canal is fairly close to the consulate.
I’ve bought a Japan Rail pass, so I’ll be spending the next week going here and there in Japan.