My Street Japan. Day 3. {Photography Project}

My Street Japan. DAY 3. Tammy T. Stone

My Street Japan. DAY 3. Tammy T. Stone

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Japan is celebrating “Silver Week” this week, a five-day holiday consisting of a weekend, two actual holidays, and a “bridge” day to enable a five-day vacation. The way the dates work out, the Japanese only get a “Silver Week” every five years.

The first of the two holidays translates into “Respect for the Aged Day”, and indeed, there are many, many “aged” in Japan to celebrate and pay respects to: 25% of the country, or almost 32 million people, is composed of the elderly, aged 65 and over. By 2060, they estimate that the elderly will make up 40% of the population, partly due to the fact that Japanese people live to a relative old age, and the birthrate has been steadily declining. Another interesting fact – for every 100,000 people in Japan, nearly 43 people are over 100 years old! Currently, there is a custom of giving centenarians an expensive bottle of sake on their birthday, but they’re considering stopping this tradition, due to the sheer number of people “accomplishing” this old age!

The second holiday, which falls today this year, is “Ohigan”, which translates directly as “the other or that shore of the Sanzu River”, which in Buddhism, is a poetic way of referring to reaching enlightenment. On the other side of ignorance and suffering, the peace that comes with “Satori”, empty mind, bliss. There is also a reference to the Heart Sutra here, where on passage translates as:

                               Gone, gone, gone beyond, everyone gone beyond [to the Other Shore].

“Ohigan”, then, has traditionally been a day to take the time to reflect on past action and renew one’s aspirations to practice the Buddhist Six Perfections and reach enlightenment.

The Six Perfections (or Paramitas) are:

Dana Paramita – Perfection of Generosity

Sila Paramita – Perfection of Morality

Ksanti Paramita – Perfection of Patience

Dhyana Paramita – Perfection of Meditation

Prajna Paramita – Perfection of Wisdom

Today’s photo is my modest tribute to the beautiful history of this country that I definitely do not know that much about yet, but that also sings to me through the living present. I’ve rendered this photo “historical”, partly to obscure the face of the bike rider, to respect his privacy, and also to pay homage to history living through the now. I’m always amazed to see the elderly handling their bikes like (sometimes fairly slow) pros!

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My Street Japan. Day 2. {Photography Project}

Oh, the joys of very early autumn bloom! This is a rare blast of stunning nature bursting forth under a streetlamp in front of my apartment.

My Street Japan. DAY 2. Tammy T. Stone

My Street Japan. DAY 2. Tammy T. Stone

My Street Japan {New Photography Project). Day 1.

My Street Japan. DAY 1.

My Street Japan. DAY 1.

Hello!

I haven’t been writing too many posts lately – I’ve been working on so many things, from promoting my book to new writing projects, that I haven’t been sure what to write about on these blog pages!

When I go through periods of intense writing, things start to feel a little unbalanced inside of me, because I also love expressing myself in other ways, and they really cry out to me for attention when I’ve abandoned them.

I never fully abandon my creative pursuits. In fact, I’ve been extremely lucky lately to have met an amazing woman in the U.S. who was interested in a few “cloth paintings” (I sew with used, vintage fabrics on cloth) I’ve been working on, and it’s proven to be a beautiful process of creating and sharing.

I have also taken hundreds upon hundreds of photos, and have fallen so far behind on sorting and editing them that I’m a bit beside myself!

After returning to Japan from a nice, long(ish) visit to Canada, I also found myself grappling with many emotions associated with not being closer to my family, friends and loved ones, and with being unsure of my place in Japan – how much I could learn, do, and keep going with the work I was doing with such joy during my years in Southeast Asia and India.

With all of this going on, I realized that I am absolutely not taking in the (beauty of) the present moment. I’m focusing so much on what I’m not doing and what I should be doing, that I’ve stopped letting real, actual life breathe through me.

It occurred to me that I can combine my passion for image-making with my very therapeutic desire to passionately engage with my present.

To be where I am.

Where I am now, geographically, is an apartment on a fairly busy street in central Nagoya, Japan. It’s an old neighborhood, so even on this main street, my building is the “highrise”, at eight stories high. The average age of bicyclist I pass by on the street is probably 65 – 70 years old (most are still very spry at this age). The street is rather grey and concrete-laden, as are most streets in most cities in Japan. The stunning beauty of this country lies in the outskirts, the fields, rice paddies, mountains and waterfalls well out of city limits.

Still, every street, every nook and cranny, every facet of LIFE, has charm. I want to awaken myself to this again, and I want to share my journey with you. One day, this landscape – all landscapes – will change, and we will be nostalgic for what is no longer. I want to appreciate what is before me. I want to revel in the present moment of my life, and all the magic that comes with it.

Today is September 21st, the Fall Equinox. Summer gives way to fall. It is a time of transition, of ushering in the new, of awakening to the beauty of time passing.

So, for the next 120 days, I will take the elevator down the ground floor of our building, and step onto the street out front.  I will go to the same spot every day, with my camera, and capture a moment in time. My aim is, as I’ve mentioned, to learn to appreciate the beauty and charm of where I am, but there is another intention here. I also want to show that there is so much about our everyday environment that we are blind to. I want to give visibility to what usually goes unnoticed, and hone in on things of beauty that normally remain unseen in the carrying on of everyday life.

I’ll call this project, “My Street Japan”.

Some of the images will be of fleeting things – people walking by, a flower in bloom – and others will be of more “permanent fixtures” of the street. Nothing, of course, is permanent; some things just feel more permanent than others. At the same time, nothing is just “that thing”. A slice of life is actually comprised of many slices, folded across space and time, and our job, if we are interested, is to be as discerning as possible, and as appreciative as possible, while realizing that all is change, that change is the very essence of our existence.

To be truly present and in the moment, then, is also to be acutely aware of the transience of life and experience, of how little in our present moment we can really grab onto. How wild is that?

Let’s not grab. Let’s rejoice, live, love, and ever move on, from a space of pure joy – which always transcends the moment we are currently in.

Thank you for joining me on this ride! If you feel compelled, please share, especially if you know anyone interested in everyday life in Japan!

Tammy xo