I took this picture at the crossroads halfway between the Tateyama train station and Takadate Junior High School in Yamagata, Japan, where I used to work. I don’t know why I find this image so striking and beautiful. This smaller version simply doesn’t do it justice (bigger sizes here) There’s something about the sky, and the building design aesthetic. Simple, modern, not obviously Japanese. And perhaps that’s what I love about it. At first glance there’s nothing that jumps out and screams Japan, but if you look closely you can see the distinctions. In a way, that’s what I am trying to do with this blog. I want to show the small distinctions between American and Japanese culture.
This image is what I think of when I think of Japan. And when I look at it, I miss my time in there.My girlfriend, who comes from Nagoya, has a bittersweet relationship with this image. She loves it, but says it makes her homesick.
For all the photos I’ve taken of city skylines, neon lights and even secluded temples, Japan is more than that. There is more than Tokyo and the neo-modern jungle of the big cities. There is more than the tourist sights and the fashion and the cultural oddities. There are simpler joys, and the foundation of a living culture that holds up the rest. While I love all of it, this photo reminds me of the part that is easiest to forget,