Monday, May 22, 2006

Turning Japanese

Prepare yourself. I spent some time in Japan earlier in the year. My first time. The next few posts will be that of me as a Japanophile.

Going to Japan has been something I wanted to do for many years. I love the minimalism, the respect for beauty, the torturing of nature. The ability to create beauty by the arrangement of things.

On my first few days in Tokyo, to my western eyes there were constant contradictions between beautiful vistas and mundane interruptions like electricity wires and TV antenna's. I would frame a shot, and there would be the bright pink sign in front of the perfect cherry blossom tree in flower.

For a while - I was frustrated, until I did some reading.

Donald Richie who since WW2 has lived most of his life in Japan provides some interesting insights into this. In his book Partial Views: Essays on Contemporary Japan he argues in one of the essays that the Japanese have a way of ignoring interruptions to beauty. The Japanese view instantly edits the frame to eliminate the telephone wires, or the neon sign.

Once I had read this comment - I abandoned my quest for the 'perfect shot'. It was quite liberating.