Photos of interesting businesses around Kyoto
September 20 2012
I drove the big minivan on the highways west of Kyoto through Osaka and Kobe, and
reached Okayama City limits, 200 km south through wide ripened rice fields to a small village
where I found the carbon desiccant company, another small family business.
The owner had lived there all his life and he was in his 70`s it seems though
you can`t be sure with the ages of Japanese people.
Daylight was brilliant and it was easy to photograph the boxes and bags, with the workers,
shy country women, bagging the carbon and packaging it. I didn`t need lights really but just
the camera flash to reveal the eyes, and a polarizing filter. Driving back, I passed over a bridge
across a large inlet of the Inland Sea, with lots of green islands.
Saying goodbye to Okayama and back onto the clean highway to Kyoto.
This month has seen weekly adventures to photograph businesses.
In Kyoto there was a family bamboo business on an old street near Nijo castle,
and I took too many photos, 150, because they requested only several of them.
It was fun for Junko and I to meet the family and workers,
a real Kyoto family business feeling was there, and walls of long bamboo poles
leaning everywhere, stacked and curing. Some Meiji era black poles too.
Expensive bamboo cured into wood and made to last. Kyoto homes have
bamboo in the fabric of the walls and floors and ceilings, at least many
homes still do, especially the older wooden houses, the machiya too.
Using my new Canon 60D with only the portrait length zoom lens and
flash in the camera, mounted on my heavy old Slik tripod,
I managed to get the photos they wanted, luckily.
And in lower light sometimes. My lovely new Canon!
Then I was sent to Nara, by the ancient narrow road through south Kyoto
and navigating with my little iPhone navigator, did I get out of the slow
road past temples and shrines and old neighborhoods of wooden machiya
and then onto the new highway, quickly passing Nara, though it looked
not very old from the highway, you wouldn`t imagine it was a 1,300 year old
city, but in the distance I could see the reconstruction of the original wooden
palace, sitting lonely, red and grey in the middle of a huge field.
The business I was closing in on, was a container company, in the district of new
shopping malls and rusting warehouses, they were selling and restoring old used
shipping containers, as you see daily on the back of trucks, or maybe
on docks in Osaka and container ships everywhere. I stood the friendly boss
in the front of walls of containers, while I tried to make him as handsome as possible,
of course, his round baby face and thick body, in his business suit sweating in the heat outdoors.
It went well and fewer photos were needed this time, and work went faster.
Driving back, relaxed, my eye glimpsed a store of the Hard Off company chain, which sells
of course, computer hardware and lots of guitars and electronics
all used, and so named Hard Off, the sister store is Book Off!
I turned around and stopped my big minivan there, because I know they
sell used LPs, and in stacks and stacks of pretty Japanese pop from the 70`s
and 80`s, I found Bruce Springsteen`s The River, and Born to Run and Sade!
and for ¥ 300 each! I love the LP`s, because of the warmth of sound, the sweet nostalgia
of black discs I grew up handling, and most surely because of the photography!
Large enough, and well printed enough to study and imagine where the musicians were photographed,
expressions of 20th century art on paper, like photographic prints. You can see the
evolution of photographic arts in those record sleeves, the evolution of grainy of film made in
the 50`s 60`s 70`s are there to be seen, and innovations in lighting and darkroom techniques year by year.
Next are Okayama City limits, a carbon desiccant company and later
to Obama, not the president, but his small town namesake on the Japan Sea
to photograph a traditional wooden barrel maker there. I`d been last in Obama
on the very night of President Obama`s victory in November 2008, I was
there to photograph whatever happened, with the hula ladies with the Kenyan
Ambassador from Tokyo, and the lovely CNN reporter Kyung Lah reporting
live around the world from the midst of the Obama hulu women, we were
all thrilled to have our 1 minute of world fame!
September 9th 2012 Kyoto
I`ve been doing a series of company portraits in Kyoto and now Nara
Wednesday I visited a wonderful old Kyoto Bamboo company
The grandfather was in the workshop heating and bending long bamboo
into curved shapes, stoically, he seemed amused by us taking photos
His son and young grandson were working there too.
How beautiful are the things made from bamboo, interiors, exterior fixtures
tea ceremony utensils, mats and lamps.
August 17 2012
Aaron Berman, my Kyoto friend, asking me, should he get a ticket to see
the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Concert in Osaka, I said, if you go I`ll go.
We went, to a sort of large high school event hall, Municipal Central Gymnasium.
Fitting! A sprinkling of foreign guys and gals among hundreds of Japanese of all ages,
and then a tap on my shoulder, and there was Inagakisan, and his friends, all longtime Beach Boys
fans. I ran into someone Japanese I knew at a Beach Boys concert in Osaka!
A new experience. And then there was Brian Wilson, (looking like he just woke up,
alone in that old childhood room of his), at the keyboards on the stage left
Mike Love & Al Jardine & Bruce Johnston & David Marks, and several young virile musicians.
Their music woke us up from the first chord, they can actually sing well, still, and into their 70`s,
they inspired me and sent my thoughts and feelings back to my youth in Niagara Falls.
My friend Terry`s older brother Mick Delaney`s worn Beach Boys LP collection, which I dubbed to
my Sony open reel stereo, my “portable tape recorder” as big as a suitcase.
Still moved by Surfer Girl & Fun Fun Fun & Good Vibrations & Sail On Sailor
I was moved to get out of my seat in back, when the audience was moved to stand up!
I walked up the aisle until I stopped 3 or 4 seats from the stage,
where I grooved through most of the concert, loved it. My hand was on my
Canon G11 pocket camera now, and wondered if I could get the courage to take
it out and photograph my very own shot of Brian, a musician I`d followed all of my life really.
I`d known he was mentally withdrawn and very troubled and ill since I was a teen, and I always
hoped, as Paul McCartney did, that Brian would find his voice again.
He did, helping me realize that there was still hope for me too, later in my life
to become the photographer I always wanted to be… sort of anyway.
The security guy in front of the stage was looking in my direction a lot,
so I couldn`t take out my camera, but when the concert ended people pulled out their mobile
phones and so I did take a few shots with my camera until that security guy gestured to me to quit,
which I did. So don`t think you can`t get a photo at concerts, if you wait for the right moment.