Having just wrapped up my day job this week, I now have no excuse for not heading out to shoot. Adding to that, the overcast mirky mornings of monsoon sky have finally ended, replaced by a classic summer morning that promises a day of strong sunshine. I’m not that good under the hot summer’s sun, actually, preferring to be reading in the shade until the sky is orange in the late afternoon. But not today, I said, or I already had said it to myself last night, as I packed the gear in the tote and filled my new favourite turquoise-blue water bottle with water. I had no choice, really.
I did have more excuses to ensure I’d head out today. I’d picked up a flyer on ‘The Genius of Michelangelo’, and invited along a girl to catch up before we both moved onto our new jobs. Then there was a lunch appointment to follow, with one of the colleagues who could not make my farewell team dinner. It was going to be a day of sitting around over cups of coffee chatting about work, my next chapter in life, and gossip about work and what not.
I don’t like peak-hour trains. I cannot stand being pushed into that suffocating tin. And that was the last thing I wanted on a fine morning, in this newly granted status as a free man. At 7am I was out of door, hoping to beat the worst part of the morning commute. And I think I was JUST early enough. With little effort, I got in downtown, and walked into the park where the morning air still hovers the surface, sleepy salary men either are trying to catch up on sleep (or look as if they slept on the bench there), and munching on packed bread and canned coffee-flavoured drink before making their way to the inevitable.
Then a few things happened.
One, my museum date cancelled on me. She came down with a cold over night and was pretty sick. Poor thing. I’d only recently found we’re both analytical strategic with strong interest in art. It would have been an interesting coffee chat after. Shame.
The exhibition was VERY disappointing. I can’t even begin to describe how bad it was. You charge money for this?
Two, my lunch date cancelled on me. Some emergency around washing machine or rather at home and she needed to be there to take delivery of the replacement. Fair enough.
Just like that, suddenly I had to decide what to do with the rest of my day. And I’m not very good with that day with no plan thing. I often end up going home, have shower and pass out on bed watching some old film I’d seen a thousand times. I walked around Shinbashi station watching the office workers rushing in and out, Chinese tourists finding their way around, and feeling a bit detached from it all. And it was a nice feeling to have, being on holiday while the rest of the world is working.
I could catch a train and go have my afternoon coffee by Mt Fuji. It must look good on a fine day like this. Quick check on Google Map. Hmm… a bit far. Somewhere else? An old Japanese town from Edo era that I left unticked? It would be filled with the tourists from the continent but at least less local visitors during the week for sure. Another google search and nothing really pops out. Then I realised it was the 7th of July (my automatic watch said ‘6’ but I did not adjust after the short month of June ended). It is the Star Festival. Surely there is something around that. There was something in a local shopping arcade in an Eastern suburb, another similar one in the prefecture to the north, no, not really… then I found one about the shrine in Kamakura. Starting at dusk, with live music performance, at the prestigious primary shrine of that town. That sounds right. I headed into the train station and dosed off on the one-hour local-train ride to Kamakura.
I opened my eyes and I found myself with a guy who presents himself with the perfect summer look, a bit like that scene from Crazy Stupid Love. Yes, I was wearing a top that was probably 2 sizes too large (yes, bought at discount sale), and had New Balance on today (but he did not throw them away).
When I woke up on that train half way between Tokyo and Kamakura, 2 western guys were sitting there near me, looking into a sheet of paper and checking where they’d get off. Convention? Or a client meeting? Not, quite. Offering to help, I found out they were also going to Kamakura. Yes I was going there also, well why not get off together and see. We sat down in an old-fashioned Japanese cafe where they saw syphon coffee for the first time. Shaun is a pilot with an airline, who had been to Kamakura before and knew the directions rather well. He’d recommended to Jerry, a cabin attendant from the same airline who happened to be on day off in Tokyo at the same time and first-timer in Kamakura, that he should see the Great Buddha. I did not think I saw the Buddha in Kamakura yet (I remember once I got to the temple 10 minutes after they closed the gate in winter) so I offered to walk him in Hase. Shaun remained on the train to head to Enoshima.
So that’s how I ended up with Jerry, who was literally turning heads everywhere, and I could hear ‘oh he looks so cool’ from girls (and boys!). I was dressed just like I did when I was walking in the extreme heat in Chiang Mai (very breezy, light shirt with shorts, with good walking shoes for all-day photo walking). But I should seriously consider getting rid of those New Balance now.