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It's A Wonderful Life

A day late and with apologies, here I am. I am five days from leaving, and I am sharing Graham's apartment at the moment. I am trying to make the most of every moment of every day, and in that regard I think I have been successful. This means far more photos than I know what to do with, so I think I will up the pace here. I will try to do a post every day that I have some time, so keep an eye on here tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday as well. I am not sure about Monday, and Tuesday will almost certainly be taken up with final packing and disassembling my computer. When I lay it out like that, it really feels like I don't have any time at all. I get the feeling that Ben In Japan will be completed from New York.

A couple things. I recently worked out a technique in Photoshop that makes almost any photo look great, with just a couple easy steps. I have been struggling with this technique, because it is too easy. With thirty seconds of effort, I can do something that used to take me five or ten minutes, and it looks better the short way. I struggle with it also because it gives everything a warm, soft look - generally when I edit my pictures, I work to make the image look like the image in my memory. This effect is not necessarily like what I remember, things are almost too beautiful. I struggle because I can't decide what is more important - a photo that is as close as I can come to what I saw, or a truly beautiful photo. Recently beauty has been winning out by a little, but with it comes tremendous bouts of guilt. Look at the photos here and tell me what you think. About half of them use the new technique in a mild way.

So this is a post about a pretty typical post-work day, waking up early and going to do some various things, and then getting a call from Mori around 11 asking if I want to go diving. I always want to go diving, and when I ask Mori when, he always says "from NOW" and so I grab all my gear and drive over to the boat, fins balanced on the scooter seat, snorkel and mask in the basket, and camera over my shoulder. I inevitably beat Mori to the boat, scooter back to his house, and find him getting ready. On this particular day we were going with Mori's friend Satoshi, Hiroko, and Ron the dog.

Passing the ferry. We all waved as it slipped by.

The Nakamuras.

We got to the spot, and got to work. After about an hour the current was getting so strong that you had to swim hard diagonally down just to hit the right spot on the bottom, and then you had to hang on to rocks in order to not get swept away. On the surface you had to do a slow crawl jus to stay in place, and I was exhausted without even doing the fifteen or twenty foot dives to look for sazae. I finally gave up and climbed out, and went up the rocks to see where we were. It turned out that we were in the most beautiful place imaginable.

Hiroko is out in the tube, Satoshi is in the boat, and that ring of ripples in the middle is Mori who just dove. I love this picture because it looks like we own the place, like it's our own private swimming pool. We didn't own it, but it certainly felt like we did.

Mori, giving up. The bag of sazae is tied to that float.

Remind me again, why I am coming home to a place where I don't have the inland sea right at my door?

This is one of my favorite pictures of Mori. I have many of those, but in this post, there are a couple really good ones, if you ask me.

Also good of Satoshi.

Randomly, while we were sitting: Fighter planes!

So, after we stayed there for a while, we decided to head home, but with a stop along the way - Maru's grave. Remember, Maru is the Nakamura's dog that died a couple months ago - they buried him on an isolated beach near the harbor, and so we went.

That stone marks the grave. Hiroko, who really loved Maru went up to the grave and put her hand on the sand and said "Sashiburi ne, Maru-chan" - "Hi Maru, it's been a while, hasn't it?" It was a touching little gesture, another little window into real Japanese life opening up.

Mori, lighting a cigarette and putting it in the sand. Hiroko said something along the lines of "Maru didn't smoke!" - but Mori had a straight face on, so I think it was a serious moment between the two of them.

We sat on the beach, it was a beautiful spot, with a little breeze and shade from overhanging trees. I found a giant beetle floating in the water and let it go into the trees.

If only all graves could be so beautiful.

Time to go - you can see where Mori and Hiroko petted the sand while talking quietly to Maru.

After diving is another ritual, the hosing off in front of the Fishing Nakamura shop. The hose water is cool, but not cold, and it's really nice to cool down and sit in the shade after a long day of diving. Inevitably Mori's mother comes out to see what we caught, and someone takes off all their clothes and changes in the middle of the street. That day, Ron had tried some swimming, so he got a thorough bath too.

Another new favorite of Mori.

Satoshi, hosing Mori off. Graham saw this picture and said "not to sound like an idiot, but what the hell is going on in that picture?"

Mori's mom, laughing at something.

And so it goes - diving, coming back, rinsing off, heading home to dry off and shake the water out of my ears - and then the next day, we're at it again. This photo is another new favorite of mine, Satoshi took it.

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posted by Blogger Tanuki Tantrum at 4:46 AM

love the effect, but your pictures have looked great all along!    

posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6:28 AM

no to the hazy photoshop effect. your pictures are much better without it.

posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10:38 AM

I vote for the straight images on screen...but the soft might be good for a larger print someday...will you share the gimmick? rlinke@skidmore and bon voyage    

posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11:09 AM

I also vote for the straight images. These look fake, pretty, but too much so.

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