Wednesday, June 27, 2012

California - Part One


 The journey begins - waiting at the station to take the train to Narita Airport.
Soon after finding out I was able to take some days of summer vacation off from work, I very quickly booked plane tickets and planned a last-minute week-long trip to the Bay Area, which I haven't been back to for over a year and a half. This trip was mostly to see my family. Jittery with anticipation and sleepiness, I stepped onto the train.


Inside the train from Tokyo to the airport.


At the airport. Previous times there, I had been rather rushed or focused on other purposes... but this time, I rather enjoyed the short time at Narita Airport before taking off. I completely savored the feeling of departing on a journey to a destination thousands of miles away. 
After a nine hour flight, I arrived all too quickly, 
and it was as though I had been transported back in time.


 First, there was a lovely trip to the Monterey area.


We witnessed an amazing sunset on the ocean.


 I breathed in the cool, salty sea air and heard myself sigh in tranquility.


 The skies darkened slowly, leaving only points of light along the water, and inky darkness near the beach. My fingertips froze a bit in the night wind.


We discovered a small, old-fashioned town a bit inland the next day.


 Small, colorful surprises lay hidden all around us , just waiting to be discovered.


This California poppy petal caught my eye, sparking out from amidst the fallen leaves.

 These flowers caught the afternoon glow perfectly.


 And more California poppies!

 I just love natural light and greenery.



We also spotted this huge brown pelican perched on someone's car near the beach!
I wonder why it chose the car as its sunning location. The pelican was very calm and didn't seem alarmed at the spectators trickling around to stare and snap photos. Including me.


Lovely ground squirrels! So friendly and daring.


Got any food for me?


Crows near the beach.


A gull spreading its wings for landing.


 And more to come soon!
Now that I've recovered from jet lag by sleeping nearly the entire weekend after returning to Tokyo, I've finally made some time to go through my photos.
Life seems to move at a faster pace here, but thanks to the trip back to California, I think I've managed to take a bit of that sunny, easy-going feeling with me and bring it back.
The weekend and early this week have been so comfortable and mild. I wonder if the rainy season is really going to come?

P.S. I've started a new Flickr account to house all the photos I'm taking! Feel free to take a look.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's hard to look right at you


Have you ever had the feeling that you really wanted to get to know someone, after meeting them for the first time? Your heart starts to race, and you get nervous at the thought of going up and talking to them, but you know that you must, you must or you will miss this one chance in your entire life. 

"Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen is a song that reminds me of warm summer nights, and the excitement and nervousness involved in taking a first step toward someone you'd like to know more.

Sometimes our first impressions can also be wrong, but it's interesting how much information we implicitly gather during a first meeting and first conversation, about how we fit and connect with someone else. It's not just about the pure looks, the contents of the conversation.. but expressions, gestures and body motions, facial cues, vocal tones, and more.
And then after all of that, our mind and body decides for some reason - go for that one.

Now, I leave you with some photos of rainy Tokyo on a Saturday!

Chigiri pan made from rice flour. This bread is sooo good!!

Pigeon sitting in the rain. It actually looked quite comfy. Maybe it was enjoying the shower!


Woman in the station with her umbrella.


Lots of umbrellas at Shinjuku station.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A City of Many Faces

Kagurazaka / Roppongi / Akihabara 


I.  I exit the subway and rise into a quiet, sleepy part of town. Even though the skies had earlier threatened rain, the afternoon sun is beaming gently. It's 3 pm.
We pass small cafes and a tiny local gallery that we wander through, observing the black and white photography adorning its walls. At another corner, we find a worker outside McDonald's offering free ice coffee samples to passerby.

Off the main street, one path leads us to a very modern-looking shrine with a few inquisitive visitors.
Next, we discover a park rowdy with the laughter and shouts of many children playing. Nearby, we enter a quiet cafe with only about five tables, and interesting knick-knacks decorating the place. I order a slice of banana nut cake, and we relax in the gently simmering atmosphere.

Stumbling across a showcase of a tonbo-dama (Japanese glass bead) artist, I delight in the intricate and magical designs. The glass artwork capture the light perfectly and sparkle out as if calling to me.

As we continue down the main street, more activity and noise begins to emerge. The sleepiness melts into a shopping district, complete with family restaurants, fancy French places, and even a flashing arcade. Smells of food reach out to entice my stomach.



II. A bustling business district during the weekdays, Roppongi is alive with city lights, shoppers, and sightseers on the weekend. From the subway, we head up onto the streets and toward a looming building above - Roppongi Hills.


Still a dusky grey-blue upon our arrival at the observatory, the sky slowly darkens to inky black, and the city lights blink on across Tokyo.




III. Late afternoon. The weather is mild and summery as we walk.
Even places where we have walked and things we have seen hundreds of times before... they can look so different through another lens, another perspective, with another person by our side.


Akihabara is a fast-paced city of pop culture and electronics stores. Maids in costume invite sightseers to their cafes; restaurants and food stands are scattered along the crowded streets, between digital displays and manga/video shops.
Unable to resist the mouth-watering smell, we order two pieces of chicken from KFC for a snack. The first bite is heaven.


Whether it is a place I visit for the very first time,  a place I've been a few times, or a place quite familiar to me, the many faces of Tokyo continue to spark and capture my curiosity. There is something about this city that I can't quite put my finger on.
Perhaps that is because it has so many different parts, views, and energies, some changing and flowing with time, and some remaining ever the same.