Archive for 27 January, 2010

Nagoya Writes, Open Reading

Click on this to go to Flickr

See the images at Flickr

A great way to spend an afternoon, listening to original writing and original thinking. It was both an honour and a pleasure to be able to sit in on this event and even more so to be allowed to photograph it. I hadn’t done such an intimate event before, so I tried to not to be intrusive (I usually can be), whilst trying to get the atmosphere. I hope I was able to get some pleasing shots for them. Thanks to L for the invite, and the wine. 😀

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A Quartet Ensemble on a Sunny Afternoon

I know, a slightly elaborate title for a Japanese teenage rock band. I have no idea who they are but they attracted a handful of folks with big cameras (like mine) and two guys with video cameras, and an audience of three more people. There were three middle-aged guys, and one more guy who looked like he was either retired or soon be (with a video camera), and they were all bobbing their heads to this teenage beat. I wish I knew what the words were, it must’ve been something good to catch their attention. I spent ten minutes here before moving on to the Nagoya Writer’s Club (see post above).

A Japanese rock singer performing in an inner city park

A local rock band performing in Nagoya's Central Park in Sakae on a warm winters day

A Japanese drummer performing outdoors in an inner city park

A local rock band performing in Nagoya's Central Park in Sakae on a warm winters day

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Nabana no Sato

A couple admiring a field of decorative lights at night

A couple admiring a field of decorative lights at night

Nabana no Sato (Nabana Park) is so named after a local plant called ‘nabana’. Nabana Park is a privately owned botanic gardens and it draws the crowds. Each season they have some feature display. In winter, they have the night time “winter illumination”. Photography wise, there’s very few interesting opportunities, but it is a great place to take your date.

For the intrepid photographer, there are a few nice opportunities. But the best is when you get completely bored (no date), and get wildly experimental (see below). These images should soon appear on my portfolio at Asia Photo Connection (Henry Westheim Photography).

The chapel lit up at Nabana no Sato (Nabana Park)

The chapel lit up at Nabana no Sato (Nabana Park)

Textures and patterns made with lights for backgrounds

Textures and patterns made with lights for backgrounds

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Nagashima Studio

Paul in the studio

Paul in the Nagashima Studio. Lighting by Andrew, photography by Andrew, costume and make up by Naomi, model: Paul

A fellow photographer and I decided to do some experimenting at my place. Here’s what we came up with.

Naomi

Naomi in the studio. Lighting by Paul; photography by Andrew; comedic relief by Paul; model: Naomi

(Right) Experimenting with a snoot and low light. (Left) Experimenting with using a one-light set up to get a sheen on the background, and light the subject.

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Tado Gagaku Winter Performance

A performer of Tado Gagaku (a traditional Japanese performance troupe) performing at Rokka En (Kuwana Mansion)

A big thanks to Shu’uchi (pictured right) for letting me know about this performance. It was great to get the invite and to see Tado Gagaku perform again. This performance was again held at Rokka En (Kuwana Mansion). The first performances were musical, and were held inside the mansion itself, in the Japanese style quarter (the building includes a Victorian-style quarter). Once this indoor performance was done, the audience were then invited to move to the large windowed-doors to view this outdoor performance (seen below), from the warmth and comfort of the building. Some images are now available at Asia Photo Connection (Henry Westheim).

Tado Gagaku's outdoor winter performance

A performer of Tado Gagaku (a traditional Japanese performance troupe) performing at Rokka En (Kuwana Mansion)

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Going to Australia

It’s official. I’ll be going to Australia. I’ll be there for all of February, and half of March. I’ll spend but a fleeting glance in Sydney, and be spending much of my time in Canberra. I do hope the weather will be mild and pleasant…  Let me know if there’s anything I can do in that part of the world.

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New Year

Welcome to 2010. I hope your hangover isn’t too bad.

Last night I had the great honour of being able to go to both a Buddhist temple and a Shinto Shrine to see in the new year. Japanese people do not have a problem with going to both a temple and shrine to pray for happiness and health in the coming year. As I went to meet my friend, the weather really reminded me of England: the cold, the light snow, the wind, and the darkness.

The remains of Tokugawa

Left, Ieyasu Tokugawa's remains; right, his mother's remains.

First, we made a stop at Kougaku-ji Temple. It’s a small temple, just a two minute walk from where I live. I’d seen it before, and the Tokugawa Emblems that adorn it. Previously, I thought it was just a small insignificant place. However, it is the place where the remains (or some of) of the very first Tokugawa Shogunate are kept. Following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa ended the Japanese Warring States Period and established a military dictatorship which ran from 1600 to 1868 (Wikipedia). In modern Japanese pop culture, this is a very important time. Many television dramas, comics, and books are written about the establishment and end of the Tokugawa Era. Considering the immense impact that the Tokugawa Clan has had on Japan, it is amazing to think that I live just around the corner from a small, unknown temple where Ieyasu Tokugawa’s (some of the) remains are now kept. This is a real local ‘best-kept secret’.

A monk chanting sutras to welcome in the New Year

In Kougaku-ji Temple, where Ieyasu Tokugawa's remains are kept

It was here, at this very small and intimate temple where I saw in the New Year. The Buddhist monks (pictured) chanted sutras from books from about ten minutes to midnight, and ended just after midnight. Afterwards, we were taken outside (in the freezing cold, where snow was still settled on the ground) where we would, in turn, strike the temple bell. The bell was struck 108 times, as it is said that we have 108 sins that need to be cleansed. Fortunately for me, I only had to strike it once, the crowd and the monks would do the rest.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know what to expect, so the camera that I took was only just enough to capture the events for this blog. I hope to go back to this temple with a tripod and other gear and take my time to photograph it properly, and do it justice.

A Shinto priest in front of a shrine on New Years eve.

A Shinto priest in front of a shrine on New Years eve.

After having the New Year chanted and tolled in, we went to Heaven Shrine, known locally as Hachiman Jinja. Here we had offered to us invitingly hot noodles to eat, and refreshing sake to drink. After refuelling and getting warmed up again by the huge fire (where last year’s prayer / wish boards are burnt) we went up and got new prayer / wish boards. On these, you would write your wishes for the New Year. Unfortunately, the lighting here was absolutely terrible, and so this is the best image I could manage under the conditions. Afterwards I went out for one more small cup of sake (I swear, it was only a small amount that I had), was introduced to some of my friend’s friends. Warmed by the fire a little more, then went home at about 1.30am.

Thanks for the invitation and your help, Mr Kato. Update from Mr Kato, the Buddhist ceremony is for New Year’s Eve, whilst the Shinto ceremony is for New Year’s Day. Arigatougozaimasu, Kato-san.

Some men standing by a fire at a Shinto Shrine at New Year's eve

Some men standing by a fire at a Shinto Shrine at New Year's eve

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