Trees Surround

Ahh it's finally spring! And for just a short couple weeks in Japan, spring means cherry blossoms. Beautiful cherry blossoms!cherry blossoms in tokyoHere visitors to Kitanomaru Park (北の丸公園) in Tokyo walk under cherry blossoms in bloom. The park is within the grounds of the old Edo Castle which no longer stands.

party in the park

Will and Andrew partake in an ancient Japanese tradition: drinking under cherry blossoms. There's a bit of a cherry tree down on the left there, so it counts. But within and around the park there were dozens of cherry trees. Quite beautiful.

Tokyo Eyes

I'm working on a project for a Japanese newspaper right now. There isn't much more detail to the assignment than that. They want to me shoot something. The photo directors I talked to said they liked the angles at which I shoot subjects eyes. So I'm thinking about that a lot at the moment. Here are some things I've been working on for the project. violinI think this is an example of the "eye photos" that the directors liked. Here Ayako Okunuki waits between songs while playing violin with the band Pamfu in a studio in Shibuya, Tokyo.

bandJames Francis, top left, and Andy MacKenzie, right, play along with Ayako's violin in Pamfu. Full disclosure: I play harmonica with them. The harmonica is probably in the hand during this shot.

jugglingA juggler who calls himself タクゾー (Takuzō) practices with juggling pins in Kawaguchi City, near Tokyo.

gyozaA worker at 原宿餃子楼 (Harajuku Gyōza Rou) takes an order for gyōza, a Chinese-style dumpling, in Tokyo's Harajuku district.

standing barNick Erickson, bottom left, enjoys the atmosphere of a small standing bar with a crowd of people in Shibuya, Tokyo.

barA man who gave his name as りゅう (Ryū) sits listlessly in a bar in Shibuya around 1:00 in the morning while hardcore music plays in the background.

Pairs, disordered

Having grown up in the middle of a continent, I'm not very accustomed to boats. So the party I went to on a ship the other day was especially fun for me. Below are two pairs of pictures from that night, though the pairs are not next to each other.Girl in YukataA woman wearing traditional Japanese yukata enjoys the atmosphere of the boat cruise on the Tokyo Bay. People were encouraged to wear traditional dress on the two-hour cruise. I wore a t-shirt and shorts.

Toyko Tower from the BayThe Tokyo Tower sticks out amongst the buildings of Tokyo's skyline.

Emily running to izakaya Emily rushes off into the night while searching for a bar after the cruise.

Tokyo Bay Airplane An airplane takes off from Haneda Airport in Tokyo Bay. Our boat got so close to the airport at one point that passing planes seemed to just miss the tops of our heads.

Marvelous Mangosteen

I love trying fruits that I've barely even heard of before. My newest fruit is the purple mangosteen, a tropical fruit that can only be grown in consistently warm climates. Because of the climate required, mangosteens are rarely seen in North America. My mangosteen was grown in Thailand. 

I found this curious fruit in my local supermarket and immediately put it in my cart without thinking too much about what it was. It was just so goofy looking. I had to have it. Plus it only cost ¥95 or so, about a dollar. Worst case scenario, it turns into a good story like that stinky durian I ate. Never again.

Let's look inside. When you slice open the thick, deep purple skin of the mangosteen, you reveal the creamy white edible center. The pieces inside are about the size of small orange or clementine slices.

It's a pretty fruit, but it tastes wonderful, too. The slices of mangosteen flesh are slightly fibrous, but very pleasant and easy to chew. It has a mildly sweet flavor and just a hint of acid that isn't at all overwhelming. Delicious. In an exotic fruit competition, the mangosteen blows the durian out of the water. Plus it has a cooler name. Say it out loud with me. "Mangosteen!"

Japan Earthquake

I was on a train traveling towards Tokyo when a massive earthquake hit Japan on March 11. The train came to a quick stop and began shaking. Buildings around the train swayed back and forth for several minutes. Large aftershocks followed for the next hour or so. Finally, Japan Railway workers set up ladders, and passengers were evacuated. 
JR employees help passengers evacuate a train near Urawa in Saitama, Japan. Seen on the New York Times
Passengers walk along train tracks toward the nearest station following the earthquake. 

A JR employee helps direct passengers following the evacuation of a train after the March 11 earthquake.