While today was about as local as we’re going to get. It was by no means a dull one. Starting early with a huge grocery haul in preparation of a family get together and a trip to the Marina to stock the boat for Friday’s planned voyage. From there a short walk to the local buddhist temple and back to the house for a few hours of taking the chainsaw to some unexpected wood. And while I thought I was cutting for tonights gathering around the fireplace. I think I cut enough to keep the house warm for the entire winter. We got a lot done today. From loading the boat to preparing the dinner and everything between. I think we really pitched in, partially working off our debt to people who have been incredibly generous to us before, during and long after our visits. For dinner, the eight of us ate enough oysters to put the pacific ocean on alert. Kenichi (Kayuri’s Dad) and I drank and toasted one another throughout the night as Yudai (My nephew, his grandson) knocked everyone out his over the top energy.
There’s still a whole week left in this trip and I’m already missing these people. Their energy, positivity and above all, their laughter will be not be forgotten. Surely though, it will be greatly missed.
With plans to meet Kayuri’s childhood friend Junko and her daughter Miku in Kawasaki for lunch and a possible trip to the theater to see the new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens”. Junk, who is originally from the Tokyo are eventually moved to South Korea when her husbands job transferred him there. However far, no trip to Japan would be complete without a day with her. I first met Junko when Kayuri and I were still dating. By far, one of my favorite people I’ve met through my wife. She’s been an important person in our life despite the limited time we’ve had together. She flew to New York to be the bridesmaid at her wedding and left a very positive foot print when she left. Unfortunately, after lunch and shopping we didn’t have enough time for the movie. Instead, we made plans to see it together before she left for home. Spending most of my day on the trains and at the mall. I really didn’t have many opportunities to take many pictures. Spending quality time with good people sometimes takes precedent.
With a long drive to Hakone’s hot springs just hours away. Kayuri, her Mom and her middle sister Chisato felt an urge to reward my craving for traditional Japanese noodles with a trip to Wakana in rural Hayama. Though the drive there seemed to be a long one. The area we travelled had me more excited than anything on my trip thus far. As I stated in my Tokyo Post. I was really looking forward to exploring the rural side of Japan in the days coming. The narrow roads we travelled were highlighted on both sides by tiny houses, boat graveyards and rustic shacks that most likely served as homes to some of the workers in the area. The scene outside our car window reminded me of the climactic end of the Movie “Point Break” People running to and fro. Running for cover from the coming storm or apocalypse. The rain was coming down pretty hard by the time we made it to the restaurant and the wind seemed to threaten many of the shacks I mentioned. As we turned in to the parking lot of the famed noodle house. The rain stopped as if to allow us safe passage. Allowing us to reach our tasty destination without getting completely drenched. The pictures below were taken after our lunch. Left to Right Chisato, Nobue (Mom) and Kayuri. The noodles at Wakana are by far, the best I’ve ever had. Sitting seiza style will take a little more flexibility in the future, but I’m willing to work on it.
It’s been close to a week since my Mom’s first visit to our new home here in Jersey City. During her week here, I made it a priority to capture some intimate images of her stay. Being that we’ve lived so far from one another for over twenty years now. I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like to. While her stay had it’s share of ups and downs. It reminded me of how much I love, respect and appreciate how much she’s shaped the person I am today. By far my favorite moments of her visit was seeing her interaction and the positive foot print she left on everyone she met. Her smile, positive outlook and ability to make complete strangers feel like family are inspiring. Looking back at her visit, I realized that the thing I enjoyed the most was hearing her speak in Spanish s0 often with anyone and everyone she new spoke the language. For me personally, it’s always been one of the many traits that made her so beautiful. Till this day, I still remember the first words she taught me as a baby “Dame Un Beso.” (Give me a kiss.) All these years later, I still tell people about my first words and about what an amazing woman my Mother has always been. Despite all our differences and endless similarities. We still love one another to the fullest. Thanks Mom.
This Saturday April 18th marked a celebratory return to the beach for my family and me. It also marked one of the first times since I was a child that I walked the shores with my Father. While there were childhood trips to the Vegas Strip and post teen jaunts to Lake George. The beach is something my Dad and I rarely shared. However, on this particular Saturday a visit to my Dad’s new home in Toms River included a trip to the nearby shore os Sunset Heights. In those hours we had our share talked, walked and bonded over things both old and new.
It wasn’t until the ride back to Toms River when my Dad asked “Do you remember when we used to go to the beach with Jack?” “Yeah!” I replied excitedly. As deeply receded as that memory might have been. It came back to me so quickly that I could recreate an image crisper than a new pair of Martha Stewart bed sheets. By now, if you’re actually still reading this. You might be asking yourself who or what was Jack? Jack, for lack of my father’s imagination when naming people, places or animals was our first dog and only pet in our family history with any staying power. A beautiful and independent spirit. Jack was a very rare breed, being a saluki. Saluki’s were know as a Persian Greyhound or Royal dog of Egypt. Jack, much like his greyhound cousin could race at speeds up to around fifty miles an hour. Letting Jack off the leash in a park, lot or beach was like an event. To watch him stretch out as he raced gracefully from point A to point B was something that I wish everyone could experience daily, if not but once in their life. Trying to get him to return or get him back on the leash was something I would only wish on my worst enemy. As we returned to my Father’s place. He revealed the secret of his success in getting Jack back on the leash and back into the car. While I’ve seen many a greyhound and whippet since. The Saluki, just like Jack himself has yet to be spotted since. My guess is he’s still running along the shore somewhere. And while my trips to the shore will certainly become more and more common in the coming weeks and months. A memory as deeply recited as this one is a sure rarity.
Last week I dropped by unannounced on an old friend with nothing but a smile and a case of beer. It had been years since I last saw Gary, but the memories and appreciation for this old friend had never wained. I first met Gary when I was sixteen, maybe seventeen years old. At the time I had just met and had begun dating his daughter Casey. At the time I had already perfected the “Meet the Dad” thing and had developed quite the silver tongue. As I sat there in his living room. Gary popped the top on his can of Budweiser and the conversation began. As we spoke about our common interests such as Hockey, power tools and of course his daughter Casey. Gary leaned back in his chair and breathed in before saying “Listen James, I like you. You’ve got a good line of shit.” It was a strange moment. One that I remember vividly years later. The man was honest and forthright. A gritty, no holds barred kind of man. A union guy who got his hands dirty at work, just like my step dad. Since that day Casey and me remain trusted friends and I’ve kept in touch with Gary through family events and unannounced visits. Till this day, he’s still as honest and forthright. A hard worker who, despite retirement, keeps himself busy and his hands dirty. Years may pass without a visit, but he welcomes me every time with a smile and an offer to stay as long as I like. He reminds me that, as we get older we learn to appreciate the little things in life and cherish the people we invite into it. My appreciation for Gary, the way he welcomed me to the family in my teens and the way he still welcomes me in to his life and home goes a long way. As I get older, I’ve grown to appreciate these little moments and exchanges more and more. Whether it’s reaching out to a stranger or dropping in with a case of beer on an old friend. These little things can make a difference in someone’s day and even their life. It sure goes a long way to make my own better.
Last night I added a KIDS section to Damion Photo which includes studio and location shots taken at local parks and beaches. Working with children and families has been one of the most rewarding parts of my photography life. Something I hope to dive head first back into in the coming months. I’m currently booking Spring sessions which include visiting clients homes where kids seem most comfortable. I also plan to continue taking advantage of Hoboken’s Parks and beautiful Hudson River view. There will be many updates and additions in the coming days, weeks and months. Come visit and watch for the coming updates. Yours Truly, The Photo Geek