IIRC, this is looking towards Mt. Tara from across Omura Bay in Kyushu. Shot with a Canon 550D.
While I’m happily equipped with internet here in my new Korean apartment I’ve been too busy with the new job, as well as dealing with the jet lag, to post much up. There’s also the fact that I haven’t been in Gunsan long enough to get the lay of the land as far as interesting (to me) photography goes. There does seem to be the same problem I had in Miyakonojo: All cars and no feet. That is, everyone is driving and no one is walking about who isn’t a minor. The area I’m in is a new area and I’m a bit of a distance from the traditional gathering areas of the city so that may account for it. I’ll try and find out this weekend.
Assuming the job doesn’t wipe me out in the first week.
Snow makes everything look nice. Even Seoul looked nice in a snowstorm and Seoul looks as nice as you’d expect for something covered in industrial waste. Then snow becomes a brownish sludge that makes your travel a miserable hell.
But for the first few hours? Lovely.
This is Nagasaki. The first thing you see when leaving the bus and/or train station is a hill full of dead people. If you’re the superstitious sort I suppose that might put you off, but it’s a lovely city. I rank it highly in my list of places in Japan I’d be happy to live in.
I make no secret that I think religious belief (as well as it’s root: The adoration of authority) is a steaming load of dookie. But I do admit that for the most part it’s harmless. A collection of habits and rituals that people use to distract themselves from the awareness of the future meal they’re going to become. It’s meaningless, but at least they’re not passing laws telling gays they’re not human, or murdering people in malls over it.
Recently, I was hipped to an article about atheist churches. I had heard of the concept before and I didn’t pay it much heed because the idea is like saying you’re a firm Catholic on your way to your third abortion.
Let me tell you a not-secret secret: Atheists have as much in common with each other as Canadians do. Same country, different worlds. There are atheists who think wimmins need to shut up and stop spoiling the fun with their lady brains. Some atheists will strongly deny any gods you present to them, yet will go on at great lengths about ghosts, Bigfoot, and the UFOs that brought all of them to Earth. There are also atheists that think climate change is a scam of Big Solar, vaccines are mind-control drugs, and the moon landing was done on the Star Trek set. Aside from being idiots, the only thing these atheists have in common is disbelief in deities.
Yet someone decided that what atheism needed was the power structure of religion and they scammed a bunch of people into agreeing with them. Sure, these organizers will talk a good game about community and ritual. But all leaders talk about community and ritual. Making people feel like a group is part of the toolbox of those who seek money and power. And these social structures inevitably exist solely to maintain the power of the people at the head of that structure. It’s human nature. It’s also something to be rejected because it’s what leads people to pass laws that tells gays they’re not human, and murder people in malls.
In Kyushu, it’s common to dress up small stone Buddhas in cozy winter gear. I feel this is a much better expression of ritual than any of the above mentioned. So if some atheist wants to knit a little cozy for their copy of The God Delusion, they have my blessings. Leave the priests to the religions.
Final Nagasaki picture for the week. Like the others, it was shot with a Mamiya C220f. Shot either while I was standing on, or near, Meganebashi.
Looking at the history of war, ultimately it’s our fault. We allow the wealthy and powerful to make decisions for us that are aimed at expanding their wealth and power rather than improving our lot in life. We accept their lies and cultural propaganda (AKA: “Patriotism”) to the point that we gladly send our youth off to die for them, calling them heroes on their way to the grave. We ignore the atrocities done in our names, and we seek to justify or downplay them when brought to our attention. We’re only disgusted or shamed by these things when we lose.
Despite what your religious leaders and peers have told you about atheists, we do have the ability to appreciate beauty regardless of the inspiration for it. We can even listen to an entire hour and a half of Bach without exploding into flame.
That’s why I’m fond of visiting religious structures when I come across them. They show the benefits of being devoted to supporting and promoting a wealthy power structure such as a religion: You get the financing to bring fantasies to life, and beautiful buildings and art tend to result.
Science and secularism, for all it’s superiority in explaining reality, is lacking in the more physical manifestations of beauty. Of course you’d have to be dead in the heart to look at this photo of Saturn and not be awed by it. But Saturn is a billion kilometers away and there’s no way you can pass an afternoon sitting on a nearby bench and looking up in appreciation of it. It was also forged by forces beyond easy human comprehension. Saturn seems inevitable given the power of the cosmos. Exceptional, but not exceptional given the context.
But the Pieta? You marvel that a small, short-lived, cosmically insignificant ape made that. It seems almost inconceivable this came from an ugly, vicious human brain. Most of us can’t even handle Pictionary, yet one of us did that?! Wow, right? It still doesn’t mean that religious beliefs have any basis in reality. But I’m secure enough to admit that, when it comes to making beauty, religions have us heathens beat.
That’s why we’re claiming rock and roll and hip hop! They may not be beautiful most of the time, but do make you shake your butt.
Like every photo for the next few days, this was shot in the city of Nagasaki with a Mamiya C220f.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. With the end of the Cold War this is an occasion that has become something that only gets mentioned in passing. And with the war generation mostly dying off and the Baby Boomers busily fighting with Generations X through Z over how much of society’s resources they’re going to eat up before they die, this isn’t going to change any time soon.
I’ve only ever passed through Hiroshima on my way to Tokyo or Osaka. It seemed like a nice city from the window of the train. It was always a regret of mine that I’ve never visited there. But you know… the history of the place. I knew I was going to walk around all weepy-eyed since I was a teen during Ronald Reagan’s brinkmanship against the USSR and atomic death was an ever present fear that still sits deep in the animal part of my brain.
Yeah, acting psychotic worked very well for America. That’s why North Korea does the same thing today. But it only worked because the Soviets decided they would have to be the sane ones. A nation that decided democracy was for chumps and ran back into the arms of the next dictator they found. You should think about that for a while before chanting “U! S! A! - U! S! A!” or “Can! Ah! Dah! - Can! Ah! Dah!” or “God save the Queen” like the sad little nationalist nerd that you are. No, not even at sporting events.
I will accept, “God, save my Queen LP collection!” depending upon the circumstances.
I have been to Nagasaki. As mentioned yesterday, it’s a beautiful city. Sure, the first thing you see when exiting the train station is a hill full of graves. If you’re the superstitious type, you may not like that. But those graves are behind a street full of lovely Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. The city itself feels comfortable in it’s own skin and despite the relatively small population, the place is jumping at night. In some areas it feels like a city twice it’s size.
While I was there, I met an old fellow who was a kid during the war. Thanks to the long lives of the average Japanese person you get to meet a lot of old folks who have experienced shit that makes you feel like the pampered kidult you are. He lived outside of the city when it was bombed and was largely spared the horrors of it. His story is pretty typical: After the war he goes to a technical college in the west (In his case it was Canada because he loved Elvis but he couldn’t get into the USA.), and gets a degree in engineering. He comes back speaking fluent English, has a good life for himself and his family, retires. Striking up conversations with every tourist he meets on the trolley.
Or “tram” if you prefer your English to not be American.
There was a blizzard when I visited Nagasaki. It made for pretty pictures, I think. I’ll be posting those up for the next few days. Like the photo above that was shot on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, they were shot with a Mamiya C220f medium format camera. If medium format film wasn’t such a pain in the ass to get and a pain in the ass to get developed, I’d be still using it all of the time.
I have a number of pictures of the city of Nagasaki in the snow. I should probably repost them to Flickr since it’s new and sexy.
Of all of my trips around Kyushu, Nagasaki was both the best and the worst of my experiences. The city is aggressively lovely and photogenic. Every neighborhood calls out to you. If you’re a more serious photographer than I (and you are), you’d be in hog heaven.
The downside is that for a famous city known for being a central point in Japan’s history with the rest of the world, it sure is small and lacking in attractions outside of the (important and interesting) history it provides. Once you’ve seen all the pretty stuff, which you can get done in a day or two, you’re stuck waiting for the malls to open at ten. I had booked myself there for five days. By the third day I was wandering the back streets looking for something to catch my eye.
I’d love to live there, mind you. It seems perfect for that.
Shot with my old Mamiya C220f. I’ll see if I can’t post up the rest of the photos I took with it that week. They were quite nice, in my not-so-humble opinion.