100 Strangers

 Drum and plates

Drum and plates

 shy for a street performer

shy for a street performer

Seeing Iliya beating out some captivating rhythms on the street took me back to the first time I saw a street summer performing on pots and pans in New Orleans. It's amazing the amount of sounds that can be gotten out of a plastic tub and some old saucepan lids. Iliya told me he picked them up from hostels while he has been touring Europe. I always take street performer signs with a pinch of salt but I believed him when he said he's saving for a real drum kit so he can go to university to study music. With his talent it shouldn't take him long.

100 Strangers

Sometimes I struggle to find someone to take a photo of. One day I might feel less confident, other days I can't find the person who is close enough to the image I have in my head, and sometimes a person walks past and it takes a couple of seconds before I realised I actually did want to ask if I could take that person's photo, but by then the moment is gone...

 Banking style

Banking style

But when I see someone this sharply dressed, there's no hesitation! The only downside being after taking a photo of somebody this stylish, I look at what I'm wearing and cry inside.

100 Strangers

 Maria Anna

Maria Anna

This morning I found the perfect spot in town where the sun rises between two tall buildings and is reflected in the windows of another. This creates a massive natural golden urban reflector at just the right height for only 5 minutes before the sun is too high. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone suitable for a photo before the light had gone. I was just about to head off feeling cold and disappointed when I noticed Maria Anna was walking just behind me so even though I had lost the perfect moment, I decided to ask if I could take her photo. Well, at least, I tried to ask but she didn't understand what I was saying as she only spoke Russian. After some poor attempts at communication, she graciously let me take her photo. It was only then I realised walking round in the cold without gloves didn't help with keeping a camera steady. Luckily, after taking a couple of photos I asked if I could take one more, and this one (above) wasn't a blurry mess! I guess the moral of the story is never give up and don't dwell on missed opportunities... But always wrap up warm.

In the hot seat

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One of the oddest things I've seen next to a children's playground in Japan is this grounded fighter jet that was used for training the Japanese air force. The canopy was a bit hazy and has some anti glare coating on which caused some strange reflections and I had to reach over with my camera, so I didn't know what was actually in the cockpit until after I got to my computer.

Kamome

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This limited express called Kamome runs from Nagasaki to Kitakyushu and was the first train I rode that made me feel in awe of Japanese style and technology. The seats are all soft black leather the floor is parquet and the walls are off-white (no first/second class disparity). There is a small pullout table hidden in each seat's armrest. Each pair of seats has a foot switch that can be used to rotate the seats to face the other direction making a group of four. If all four seat's tables is taken out then it will make one later table.  And of course, the ride is smooth, fast and quiet. Compared to the dirty plastic, chewing gum patterned carpet, diesel fume belching trains of the UK, it felt like something out of the distant future and still shines to this day.

100 Strangers

 Fukumoto san of Dep bloc's, Fukuoka.

Fukumoto san of Dep bloc's, Fukuoka.

I took this photo in January while in Fukuoka staying at an apartment style hotel next to a hair salon. I walked past one day and was interested in the owner's style and asked if I could take a photo. I used a Pentax 67 with 105mm f2.4 lens which I really love. After waiting forever for the negative to arrive, I'm glad that this image has the medium format film look I was after. There's something about this picture that makes me think of a modern cowboy stylist that's quick on the draw with his trusty side snippers.

Cranes at dawn

 coming into land (Pentax 67, 300mm, f4)

coming into land (Pentax 67, 300mm, f4)

This is why I shoot on film. It isn't easy to get up before the crack of dawn, load a camera with film with numb fingers, focus said camera and lens combo that weighs a ton manually on birds in flight while also keeping an eye on the changing light conditions to tweak the exposure, then wait and wait and wait to finish the film, get the film developed, patiently wait for delivery (it took a month to get it back from Japan), scan the film and finally see it up close and only then realise you managed to get it all just about right enough to have a nice shot... But the feeling of joy and relief is so much more intense than shooting digital. And then you get the task of looking at every blob to fix dust spots!

Sachiko's Baskets

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I have had the privilege to know an amazing lady called Sachiko for well over 10 years who was one of my first English students while I was working in Japan. Since I have known her, she has never stopped being active, traveling the world, learning new skills and challenging herself much more than people half her age. I was lucky to meet her this time with my family while on Japan to catch up and show her how much my son has grown since last we met.

 

 

 Saga Castle (Sachiko in the left)

Saga Castle (Sachiko in the left)

Sachiko has been busy making baskets since last we met. Each take a couple of days and involve woven string, lacquer and a lot of patience. Each of her pieces have completely different sizes, shapes and patterns of weave. I thought this basket would look good with flowers in but we will try to use it for shopping in the weekly market.

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We were lucky to receive a basket from Sachiko and  after getting it back home in one piece, really wanted to give a way to show her craftsmanship to the world.