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.

yo

Where do some of the best yo-yoers go to practice? Apparently they go to a park just outside of Tokyo. I spent a few hours photographing three young yo-yo experts while they practiced the art of the yo-yo. Former world yo-yo champion Takumi Nagase practices in a park in Kawaguchi using two yo-yos, his specialty.

Nagase, who won the world yo-yo championship in 1999, is also an accomplished skateboarder.

Tsubasa Onishi, who won the world yo-yo championship in 2010, practices with two yo-yos.

Onishi is famous for tricks in which his yo-yo is not connected to his string, letting the yo-yo sail through the air attached to nothing. However, he still uses a string to toss and catch the yo-yo.

Nagase and Onishi are practicing ahead of a local competition organized by Kota Watanabe, center.

Nagase shows off the simple inside of his yo-yo. The yo-yoers take care of their tools, oiling them and using different types of string for different situations. Additionally, different styles of yo-yos are used for different types of tricks.

Onishi surprises Nagase when he flings a yo-yo close to Nagase's face as he rests on his skateboard.

Nagase, Onishi and Watanabe relax with skateboards and yo-yos while background music plays from an iPod.

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.

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.