Tag Archives: EXILIM

Time flows like a river, and where will you end up?

Though the particular date often escapes me, summer always brings the terminal feelings associated with my anniversary of living in Japan. Another cycle is spent; I’ve been here five years. I don’t know what is right anymore; I act but with so much less anticipation. I’m so tuned and adept at certain things but so blind to a myriad of others that I used to entertain. It’s like being in a crowded room with hundreds of people talking all at once but over time you unconsciously develop the habit of filtering them out one by one, until it’s as if you’re the only person for miles.

The first place I lived was a weekly mansion in Takaido. I bought a used mint green Ralph Lauren oxford for five hundred yen and I wore it to work the first day after nicking my Adam’s apple shaving in the morning. The photographs I took then were beautiful to me, but now looking at them I can hardly believe that they’re mine. It’s like seeing yourself at a party as a stranger.

I am exhausted, completely exhausted: physically, mentally, emotionally– in every way imaginable. A single pint of beer makes the following day almost intolerable. It seems that 85% of my life is muscle memory, and my brain is eternally drugged. I keep thinking to myself, if I just eat a little healthier, if I just change the position I sleep in, or how I hold myself when I walk, it’ll all come together and I’ll feel like I used to, like I barely remember.

I’m learning, but how much and at what cost I can’t keep track of any more.

Too tired to sleep…

[I just noticed that this is post 700. Seven hundred in just a little over five years; though the last nine months the rate has really slowed.]

Saying Goodbye

Today I have to say goodbye to someone very important. Today I have to say goodbye to my mentor, Randy Pausch. Randy died today after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was my inspiration and my teacher. He came into my life when I was lost and aimless, and he gave me something to live and dream for. He helped make me who I am.

He was intelligent, outgoing, and an excellent speaker. He talked about ideals and dreams, and what to live for, and I believed in him with my heart and soul. He was honest and straightforward; he demanded much from me because he knew what I was capable of.

From the moment I met him I admired him, and he drove me to excel beyond my wildest imagination. I sought his approval and recognition, and through my efforts and my passion, I achieved them.

When I was was joyous, he rejoiced with me, and when I was lost he showed me the way. He spoke to me plainly, and wisely. He made me feel good about who I was, and what I could achieve.

After I found out he had cancer, even though we were apart, he still continued to touch my life. As the world came to know Randy Pausch, I found an even deeper lesson to learn from him. In his suffering and trial, he endured with a strength that defines the beauty of the human spirit. He will always live in my heart.

I cannot repay a fraction of the compassion and wisdom he has taught me. I can only hope to spend every remaining day of my life to live as he did: with honor, and strength, and endless gratitude for all that I have been given.

I miss you Randy…



とにかく、早朝起きて、色々なことを出来ました。作品としてあまり新しくないけど、写真棚卸をした時に、一番古いデジカメ写真を見つかりました。2002年の夏に秋葉でCasio EXILIMを買って、魅力的で新規(私には初めて)日本を撮りました。映像質はかなり低いですが、色が濃くて感動的と思います。この写真はトップページの「フォトグラフィー」したに載っていますが、ちょっと小さいから、GALLERYで是非ご覧下さい

I have a lot of goals to accomplish by the end of May, but I’m not going to accomplish very many if I don’t first succeed in managing my time well. I’m shooting for getting out of bed between 6:00 and 6:30 each day. Last night I was motivated to keep messing around at 12:30, but instead I was a good boy and climbed up into the loft and actually took a little while getting to sleep. Suprisingly, I woke up on my own at six after having some sort of dream about participating in some traditional coming of age ceremony. I was also hungry immediately after waking up, which is even weirder, since it always takes me about an hour to “wake up” and stop feeling groggy/queasy enough to feel hungry.

In any case, I woke up in a good mood and got a bunch of things done. I didn’t really make anything new, but while digging through my photo archive I decided to make a collection out of my summer 2002 photos. These are my first shots from a digital camera, and first work with Photoshop. When I first came to Japan four years ago, I bought a little camera in Akihabara and spent the summer in awe taking pictures of an incredibly new and intense country. The image quality is pretty bad, but the colors are thick and punchy; I think you may get some idea of the way I felt when I first got here. Small samples have always lived on my top site on the “Photography” page, but these may be a little easier to appreciate.

First throwback collection up

Tonight I didn’t get started on processing as early as I hoped, but I managed to get one old collection into Gallery.

Though in preparing my website for graduation from Carnegie Mellon (and thus some sort of recruitment), I had prepared a small photo page off of my site, I had never really assembled decent-sized photographs for the web. Using my primitive Casio EXILIM and a copy of Photoshop 7, I put together some heavily processed shots of Tokyo. Though the primary motivation for using heavy filtering and color balancing was to reduce the effect of CCD noise, it ended up providing some interesting results. In comparing this with the 31 days of snapshots that I just finished last December, the core elements of my style stand out, but the photographs are about as different as day and night.

The original collection complete with hackneyed rollover images can still be viewed here.

Graveyard cats

Before taking a shower today I absentmindedly wore my glasses down to the bathroom and took advantage of the fact to weigh myself. Contrary to what I thought was happening, I’m actually down to 63 kilograms; which means I’ve lost about five pounds since coming to Japan this year and have reached a gully that even I don’t remember experiencing before. All through high school and college I seemed to weigh as much as 150 (when living the “fat” life in Seattle) and as little as 143 (during my crazy work months at Carnegie Mellon). I guess this new record is due in part to the stress and poor sleeping habits I’ve acquired in the last four-six weeks. I take some solace that what I do consume is a fairly good balance of vegetables, bread and low-fat meats and tea. My only vice is the once-or twice weekly drinking excursion with a choice partner in crime. It’s probably pretty stupid that I check the shape of my abs at least every other day. Anyway…

So today I decided I needed to take advantage of the good weather and my spirit and go outside. And go outside I did. Got a shower, got some Subway, watched a couple episodes of TNG, and hit the road on two Hawkins at 2:00. That was six hours and a considerable distance ago. Quantitatively, I walked for a little over four hours with perhaps four or five two-minute breaks. Judging by my stride and that the average person walks roughly four miles an hour, I’d say I must of covered 16-20 miles (+54 photographs and one video of a rooster in a pet shop window). I was just wandering mostly with the occasional checking of the sun to make sure I was heading in a net south-by-southeast direction. I caught glimpses of places I’d been before, but for the most part navigated entirely new territory.

I started at my home in Sendagaya and took the pictures of the rebel vine I mentioned yesterday, and then worked my way SSE to One’s Diner, an American-style burger establishment that is amazingly open until at least 1:00a on a Sunday night despite being in pretty much the middle of nowhere. From here I struck due east under an ivy-dripping overpass that has always fascinated me. On the other side was a quite artfully done series of graffiti that I think I’ll enjoy working with in Photoshop quite a bit. But for now, here is a small sample of the original.

My MP3 player and Tiesto died shortly after while photographing a particularly decrepit-looking apartment building. I thought for sure the battery meter was nearly full when I left the house, but this was the same charge that got me through over two hours of train rides to Chiba and Kawasaki the weekend before.

From there I continued east through Jingu-gaien and caught the southeast corner of snazzy Aoyama. About three quarters of the way to Akasaka I turned a sharp due south and headed through the rather large Aoyama Cemetery. I’m not sure if it’s irreverant to view and photograph the burial places of a culture not my own, but I was feeling exceptionally curious and taking a line from Star Trek II thought “the way in which one faces death is at least as important as the way in which one faces life.” I was amazed and sobered by the varied condition the graves were kept in. Some were meticulously manicured with all of the organic elements fresh and vibrant, while others were littered with overgrown weeds, decayed flowers and loose rocks. I suppose those that remember the dead, even they themselves pass away after time, and there comes a point where no one is left to care for their memorial.

It smelled heavily of incense and sweet flowers, and seemed appropriately quiet even though a maze of small roads cut through the canopy of trees. At first I felt sorry to see a lonely cat sitting by a grave, but after a few minutes I discovered that the place was in fact crawling with them…black cats, white cats, calico cats…cats alone, cats in pairs. The two things common between all of them were the unkempt fur and a look of distrust behind tired eyes. They weren’t defensively hostile when I beckoned to them, but they all had their comfort zones that eventually I would transgress to send them trotting behind a bush or vase. On my way out I passed an old man and woman with a small shopping cart opening pungent cans of tuna for a small audience of starved guests.

Somehow I came out of south end of the cemetery and got turned around, completely missing Roppongi (where I thought I was heading) and cut through Nishi-azabu back west into Hiroo, just north of Tengenji. Along the way I passed a large number of bars, pizza parlors and Chinese restaurants (all of which were closed since it was hardly four). I wish I could visit all these charming establishments. The droves of chain restaurants akin to Applebee’s, Red Robin and TGIFriday’s have _not_ yet set in here, so virtually every watering hole is bubbling with effervescant personality [and bad spelling. If I had 1000 yen for every time I’ve had Itarian food in the last month…]. One dark store in particular drew my attention as the setting sun was caught off the glistening, decapitated bodies of two dozen roast (what I assume were) ducks. As is my nature, I also stopped in a used furniture shop and coveted the rows of impeccably well-kept chairs, couches and coffee tables. I dream so often of having a spacious ultra-hip condominium filled with late 70s and 80s western furniture, lovingly maintained for my lanky frame. But, unfortunately most of the pieces in these kind of stores carry price tags of a month’s rent or more, so building the perfect swellegent digs will just have to wait until I win the lottery (after I start playing it of course).

Continually avoiding the signs for Shibuya I made my way west-by-southwest into the eastern side of Ebisu, at which point I got it into my head I was going to walk to Shinagawa (partly because it seemed like a far way south to be proud of reaching, and partly because I figured that was almost halfway to Mikiko’s place in Kawasaki, so I could give her a call when I got there and tell her I was in the area). With a firm destination in sight, I picked up the pace slightly and did my best to keep due south. However, the snaking train lines and narrow side streets led me into more switchbacks, greatly slowing down my progress. Always the apartment window-shopper, after reading several featured advertisements, I started thinking 150,000 yen (1300 USD) a month isn’t so bad for two little rooms in the foreigner-friendly Ebisu.

Eventually at dusk I came to Meguro (which had some nasty hills that reminded me of the northwest corner of Seattle). The houses here were oddly large for being inside the Yamanote line and had a warm, friendly, yuppie feeling that reminded me of my ‘hometown’ Kizu in Nara. Mothers walked chatting, while their young children struggled to keep up on colorful bicycles with training wheels.

From there I left the inviting residential areas with the fading sunlight and followed the Yamanote line more or less past Gotanda to Osaki. Not an overly impressive section of town, but still, I was satisfied to find several more bouquets of shopping centers and amusement areas. It seems you never have to go far in Tokyo to find something interesting to do. After reaching Osaki eki, I got seriously wound up due to a vast jungle of crumbling warehouses, factories and train tracks. I’m not sure if I felt lonely or slightly scared in the gloomy morass of rust that slowly crept up on me. Suddenly buildings were low and wide, and every venue that seemed the best path to walk looked moderately dangerous. Even the previously blue and cloudless sky had somehow become brooding and overcast without my notice. There was one point where I went through a series of small tunnels with no shoulder, though the signs outside indicated walking through was not an unheard of possibility.

I crossed the dark green Meguro-gawa several times before discovering at roughly 5:40 that I had gone too far south and was nearing the bay. The Yamanote line actually does a hairpin between Osaki and Shinagawa, and I had to cut sharply NNE a few more kilometers following the Keikyu line (quite the opposite direction I wanted to go had I been actually travelling to Kawasaki) until I got to JR Shinagawa. It was now quite dark and the only light that met my eyes was a strangely unsecure-looking import car showroom that had about half a dozen highly polished late 80s Ferraris for sale.

I called Mikiko a couple times but her phone was off so I left a message and after a quick (and easy) debate about whether to go to Shinjuku or Shibuya and get in trouble, I got on the Yamanote line and fell half-asleep until arriving back home at Yoyogi (15 minutes by train to bee-line the previous four hours’ wanderings). Despite being numb and a little worn out I felt quite satisfied having seen the a wide swawth of Tokyo’s boroughs…posh department stores, quaint restaurants, cozy homes, barren train yards, and exhausted industrial monoliths; all with my own two feet.

After that, a beer (in a bottle!) an another episode of TNG to catch my breath brought me back to the taxing (but necessary) task of recording this. If only my thoughts could be directly converted to text! Maybe I should get an audio blog like Wil Wheaton. Then I can just talk to myself (which I usually start doing anyway after walking or driving for more than three hours).

[It has taken two hours to write, link, and edit this post!!]


Ok, well thinking about money, and what’s possible with HTML, and bending rules and stuff I figured I’d see if I could put an image in an entry, albeit in a manual and obnoxious way.

Here goes…

If you can see that, we’re sweet and I can start putting up small versions of my photography and such. Kind of obnoxious that it was to be inline with the text like that, but templates are messy with the automation we employ.