Flowers

flowers

I am in Osaka for a 2-week visit, to attend my cousin’s wedding. It’s been a long time since I was last here in the hot and humid summer. Temp up to 35 degrees, with 50% humidity, it is not a very comfortable place. But what’s changed since my younger days is my parents’ house is now fitted with air-con units. After spending all day working in front of the old MacBook that’s struggling with over heat, I threw the Fuji and a few lenses into the new waist-pack camera bag. Earlier in the afternoon Fuji’s just published the new firmware for the X cameras, with the kind of improvements that I’ve been waiting for, so I was eager to test it out.

flowers

I also added a rather expensive but beautiful mid-range lens for Fuji, just in time for the wedding shoot and the family shoot that I covered on the weekend before. While I am very happy with the decision to invest in this set of heavy glass, I was keen to get the feel as to how the world looks when I point it at something other than candid look of people around me. I walked 15 minutes to the large park nearby, the park I used to spend almost every evening during my high school year, speeding about on my bicycle, pointing my old Canon at everything from dogs, trees, sunset…

flowers

Who says the smiling face is the best part? I quite liked this texture on the back of sunflowers, too.

flowers

The sun is setting and the sky is not so blue. A little different mood from the familiar saturated blue and yellow…

flowers

flowers

flowers

flowers

Water lilies… People here are very sensitive to the signs of seasons. My dad was the one who reminded me it is now the time of the year for this. They actually open in the morning and close at night, so they are most graceful and full of lovely smell about at the day break. But even in the fading light, standing tall with tightly closed flowers, I think they are beautiful.

flowers

flowers

flowers

I don’t know when I get to come here in the summer, but next time I’d like to take the long drive I took a long time ago, to the small country town in the north, and walk the evening path to the ruin of the old castle where the fire flies hover in the summer breeze. That’s one for the next summer trip…

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Mirai and Sora

I took a short trip to Japan last week to meet those two beauties. When I saw my cousin in Paris last December, they were inside a huge bulk on her belly. Now Mirai and Sora are healthy twin babies smiling back at me. I am excited at the thought of how much fun they will bring to the family. We live on the opposite ends of the world, in Europe and in Australia, but I intend to come visit from time to time!

Look at that gorgeous, seductive smile! Girls are always girls, from the moment they are born!

At the same time, they demand your attention, or all hell breaks loose! (And this started while she was in my left arm – with right arm not looking after her but my camera…)

Daddy sings a football fan song. The girls are all kicking and screaming, literally!

But mummy, she’s a true blue Osakan. Hence the gift from my brother and I… the uniform and towel for the baseball team of the region, Hanshin Tigers. They sleep comfortably. Whichever path they choose, the twins are likely to be famous sport girls somewhere.

See you again soon, Mirai and Sora!

Shin-ryoku

May in Minoo

I’m in Osaka. First things first, driving up the winding road to the graveyard. It has become a routine over the years that I visit two graves there, report that I’m well, put my hands together in front of the sweet smell of the burning incense, before I continue down the list of to-do’s (such as shopping…)

I have for the last several years made it a rule, not quite by choice but more so by convenience, that I visited my family around the end of the year to new year period. It is pretty cold around that time, and up here it does get frosty on some mornings. Everything is in hibernate, brown, grey and tight. Now it is all green, fresh, full of life, moisture and bursting with energy to grow. This place is so familiar and yet so refreshing to see it in this time of the year.

May in Minoo

May in Minoo

May in Minoo

 

“Shin ryoku” = fresh green, the state of spring time nature.

Eisuke 1 year on

How quickly time does fly! While visiting Osaka in the beginning of the year, I was asked to photograph Eisuke and his parents, 1 year on since our last photo shoot (which is here). The family kindly agreed to share the photos with you, here on this blog.

He was just a tiny thing, but look how he’s grown in just one year. I am amazed!

Putting hands together to the family alter, learning the manners and customs is an important part of growing up.

Grandma loves any excuse for spending some time with Eisuke.

It was pretty cold out, but we shot some in the shop, back in the yard, in the house and around to the shop again. The time passed so quickly before we knew it. We parted with promise to do it again. We’ll share that with you, too.

In the meantime, here’s a hello from Eisuke, Mum and Dad!

Eisuke

Eisuke and daddy

It was in early December when the news came; it was a boy!

Keisuke runs a bottle shop along the highway in northern Osaka. He loves driving his MX-5, though his regular car’s been changed to a red Alfaromeo hatchback that he bought when he got married. He is no older than I am, but every evening he is in the truck delivering cases of drinks to this bar and that restaurant, while sitting behind the counter in the store during the day. Since his father passed away a few years ago. His talk is gentle, with accent of people from Tokyo – something he’d picked up in his university years. Always smiling, listening well, it is not very often he talks of himself. I guess that’s what you become when you are in a customer-facing business for a long time. First rule – customer first, you listen.

It was a pleasure to be a part of his wedding which coincided with my last short visit to Japan, and this time his first son. December is a crazy time for anyone in Japan, but especially so for people who are in business. Following the custom you have the gift giving and receiving, you visit your business relations like your wholesaler, customers, and all that, to congratulate each other for another hard year passed and wish for a safety and prosperity in the new year. It is often with a sigh of relief that those people welcome the first day of January, when you can finally sit down and enjoy the meal and sake with family, appreciating the new beginning. I waited until all those madness is gone from his life, and in the mid-January visited his parents’ home behind the bottle shop where his wife and son drove in from their apartment for this photo shoot.

Osaka had a very cold winter this year. During the month-and-half I was there, I saw flakes of snow come down probably more than 10 days. It is not continuous fall, and it tends to melt before it starts to cover the ground white, but it did get to that level for once or twice. On this day, however, I had my sunglasses on, not because of the snow glare but it was a sunny beautiful day, as I drove my father’s Peugeot. I walked into the liquor store to find the tiny baby in his mother’s arms. Her sister-in-law called for her brother for me, and together we walked to the house in the back. I believe this was the first time little Eisuke came to the home his father grew up in. With eyes wide open he keeps staring up at things around him. So much intensity!

Finding himself in the father’s arm, Eisuke seems to be communicating a lot with his father. Unfortunately we would not understand him even if he had made some sound, so he tries with his intense eyes. I wonder what the father is feeling. Is there some special communication only parent and child can have? It must be nice to have your prince. I am happy to travel around the world to find my princes and princesses, only they are not quite ‘mine’ and raised by my friends and brothers. But it is a pleasure to see them grow.

mother's embrace

Kumiko-san takes over as Eisuke starts to cry. Mother knows best. She quickly understands what he wanted. Keisuke seems a bit concerned. I think this is just a lovely image of a couple. Don’t you think? With both parents giving all they can to protect, the little boy is growing up.

grandma

Keisuke’s mother, or Eisuke’s grand-ma, had not had many opportunities of holding her first grand child in her arms. She looked very happy to hold her even for a brief moment. I went around to photograph them where they were.

In this cold winter we were blessed with plenty of sunlight on this day. We get to choose the type of light that comes through window and had a great hour of photo shoot. Unfortunately the printed photos I gave the couple as a gift was way too light (whit-ish). I guess that is the problem when you do not have a pro-lab in your neighbourhood and want a good set of prints done quickly. Next time, I’ll know better to choose a professional lab in town, and give it extra few days to process. I’m sure Eisuke would have become a larger boy by then.

I’d like to thank little Eisuke for his patience, and the kind couple of Keisuke and Kumiko for allowing me to photograph their precious boy. And many thanks to Keisuke’s mum for sweet snack with coffee, and a box of rice crackers to take home. I will definitely come back 🙂