Archive for December, 2010

[Photo] Bank of China Building in Hong Kong

This photo was taken earlier this year when I was in Hong Kong at night. The reflection of the building across from the Bank of China building can be seen.

 


[Beijing Lifestyle] Christmas in Beijing

As you can see from the photo below, Christmas in China is not quite as Christmas as it is back in the states. I think it’s just Asia in general but even in Tokyo, I never quite feel  like it’s Christmas. The interesting part is that most people celebrate Christmas not to commemorate the birth of Jesus but more so to just ‘celebrate’ since “western” people do it and that’s the cool thing to do. Last time I checked, Christianity in Japan makes up a mere 1% of the total population. But since Japan absorbs almost anything from Valentines Day to this celebration of Christmas, it just seems to me to be a marketing scheme for department stores and cake shops to make more money. Also, you can’t forget that KFC is also the place to be for Christmas. Also in China, KFC is a popular destination for Christmas. But nonetheless, its not quite the Christmas feeling you would get back in the states or in Europe. Check out a photo from Beijing and another one from Japan.

Photo taken at 'The Place' in Central Business District, Beijing. This is by far the most Chritmas-like location in Beijing that I have found. Eventually, there were ice carved sculptures but still is lacking.

Photo taken at Fukuyama city in Japan. You can see the Japanese style 'Torii' which is a traditional Japanese gate used mostly in Shinto Shrines all over Japan. You can see a little bit of Christmas decorations but again very minimal.

 

 


[Reflection] China in Japan

I’ve been home for about a day in Japan but one thing that keeps coming up in my mind is how much the media here in Japan is covering China. It could be anything from news to pop culture but I’m surprised to see so many special shows dedicated to explore China and how China is going through transformation day by day. This is something that I didn’t experience a year ago. Major news papers in Japan have sections specifically dedicated to Chinese culture and historic places. More updates to come soon.


[Photo] Tokyo Sky Tree

The new symbol of Japan is about to be completed in the heart of Tokyo’s Asakusa “shitamachi” area. Standing at 634 meters, the Tokyo sky tree will be the highest TV tower in Japan. Before, the Tokyo Tower was the symbol of the city standing at 333meters but with rapid economic development and high sky risers being built in Tokyo over the last 4o years, the old Tokyo tower had problems sending and receiving TV signals.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Quick Update] Going back to Japan for the Holidays

I’ll be back in Japan for the holidays bringing you the freshest photos from around Japan! Happy Holidays everyone. Goodbye Beijing for 10 days and hello Japan.


[Reflections] From Beijing to Paradise: Weekend Getaway in Guam

2 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to escape the nasty weather in Beijing and fly south to the heavenly island of Guam. From Beijing I flew to Tokyo, which was nice since I got to experience home for about 7 hours, and then off to Guam. Both flights were about 3 hours each. Only a 3 hour flight from Tokyo, no wonder so many Japanese tourists come to this island. They can say that they went to America and it’s only 3 hours away. But clean air, blue sky, crystal clear oceans and taco bell. What more can I ask? It was so refreshing to be just laying on the beach and not worrying about some man on a bike or car going full speed as I cross the street in Beijing. I went deep-sea fishing for two days and was fortunate enough to catch some tuna and wahoo, which were instantly cut up for sashimi on the boat.
But at the same time it got me thinking. On an island so far away from everything, unlike Beijing where there’s always something happening whether it’s political or business related, Guam was too laid back and the local people seemed to be just really chill enjoying life on the island. I mean there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that but it’s been a while since I felt that there’s no feeling of threat at all. This must be the fate of every island country, including Japan. I feel like in East Asia, Japanese people feel the least threat on a day to day basis even though there’s so much tension in our very neighbor. I felt like if I stayed in Guam for  any longer than 3 days I would get so disconnected with the outside world and have no idea what is going on. I never thought that I would say this but, I missed Beijing a lot. I’d rather eat delicious sashimi right off the boat rather than breathe in the pollution but Beijing is where I want and need to be right now. There’s so much going on in every level of the system here. I’ve been in Beijing for almost 6 months now but I don’t regret anything that I’ve done or seen in the past couple months. Beijing, you have been awesome. A lot of people ask me what’s in it for me in Beijing? But China to me is where currently modernity meets ancient tradition and the rich meet the poor. It’s simply diverse and I want to know more about what’s really going on here with my own eyes. People say that China’s development will continue and will one day become more like the west. But living here makes me and other local expatriots feel the opposite, in that China will not become more like the west and the west could possibly become more like China instead. That’s another topic I will be exploring more of in the future. But nonetheless, I did manage to take some photos on this lovely island of Guam please take a look below.

At Tumon Bay, one of the most Japanesey beaches on the entire island.

Guam is only about 30miles from north to south. Traffic seems to be pretty congested during the rush hours.

Palm trees and sunset invites you warmly to the beach.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photos] Wuyuanqiao, the far North East Corner of Beijing

Way past Sanyuanqiao and Wangjing, to the north east is Wuyuaniqao. Not too many people get to come out this far, well, since there’s nothing out here but a bunch of migrant worker communities, repair shops and factories. But I used to walk around here a lot when I was teaching English at the migrant school on weekends. In the early mornings at 7am theres already a lot of movement in this area as workers and shopkeepers get busy making breakfast food. You can get here easily by taking the .4rmb(7 US cents) buses from either Lianmaqiao or even from Guomao and get off at Dongxindian.

In front of a cleaner are pool tables and locals enjoy a game of pool as they await customers

A man prepares a giant crape for breakfast. 2 rmb(30 US cents) per crape.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Music] Theophilus London “Flying Overseas Video”

Just watch this music video from Theophilus London. This guy is just genius. Hopefully he makes it out to the far east real soon.


[Photo] Global Retail Brands Rush into China

The largest Uniqlo, a Japanese retail giant, store is not located in Japan but is located in Beijing, China. As one of the most popular meet up places for a night out in Sanlitun Bar District in Beijing, this Uniqlo store covers  4 floors of colorful and wallet friendly trendy clothes. Uniqlo is one of the biggest retail competitors here in China from Japan. You hear alot these days about Chinese apparel brands coming to America but foreign brands are also busy rushing into the Chinese market to outsell their other global competitors. Gap is opening 4 stores encluding a flagship store in Shanghai. Since 2006, Zara has set up 34 stores in China, H&M with 27 stores, and Japan’s Uniqlo with 64stores around China. These are the main competitors here in China trying to eat up market shares of China’s largest retail brand giant Metersbonwe with 2,863 flagship stores(as of 2009) all around China which includes their luxury bland, ME&CITY targeting mid-twenty to thirty Chinese white collars. As a China brand, Metersbonwe combines the designs of top foreign designers and understanding of the Chinese consumer’s needs and taste in clothing. Metersbonwe has used branding techniques such as using rather popular US/European actors and models like Orlando Bloom and Wentworth Miller of “Prison Break”. Even for Li-Ning and other domestic sports brands in China are reaching for high profile athletes from the NBA and Olympic medalists like Yelena Isinbaeva, whom were Chinese favorites during the Beijing Olympics. What’s interesting to me is that more and more people in China, especially in the tier-1 to 2 cities, are buying Uniqlo saying that it’s cheap and not too expensive just like how Japanese consumers would put it. Uniqlo stores in China have much more clothing with the colors in yellow and red localizing to Chinese consumers tastes. With Uniqlo’s Heat Technology products lined up right by the entrance of the store to outlive Beijing’s cold and long winter, Uniqlo plans to expand more in China as Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Uniqlo, wants to open at least 1,000 more stores in China over the next 10 years.

The Uniqlo Store in Sanlitun Beijing is an icon of Sanlitun Village and the Beijing Nightlife bar street, making it a popular meeting point.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] Skyscraper Window Cleaners in China

If you walk around the central business district in Beijing you are surrounded by the jungle of towers where most of them have just been built in the last ten years or so and the number of skyscrapers is still growing in China. If you look at the numbers of skyscrapers in the world, tier 1 cities in China dominates the top 20 having Hong Kong(#1), Shanghai(#5), Guangzhou (#10), Beijing(#18) and Shengzhen(#20). With so many high risers, there needs to workers to manually clean the windows from the exterior. Walking around Beijing and in tier 1 cities in China I am always amazed at how these cleaning workers are hanging from a single string of rope with no safety ropes quickly cleaning the windows. I doubt there is any statistics on how many accidents there have been but here is a photo of a man cleaning the windows at Beijing south railway station.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] Wired

China’s online population is already the world’s largest and is continuing to expand with a year on year increase of 40%+.  This is just my observation but when comparing Tokyo JR Yamanote subway Line and Beijing Subway Line 1(the busiest public transportation means for both countries) during morning rush hours, I rarely see people in Beijing glancing over the printed newspaper as much as I would see in Tokyo. It seems like a majority of people in Beijing prefer means of internet to surf the news. Again, the demographics on who takes the subway in Beijing is different from that of Tokyo. We also can’t overlook the difference in the cost of living between Japan and China as a majority of people in Japan will take the subway for its efficiency and low cost as opposed to  in China where income gap is on a larger scale, most high income people in Beijing will unlikely take the 2RMB(about 30US cents) subway ride to work but rather get stuck in the world’s busiest roads just because they can afford a car.

Wired in. Photo taken at Hutong in Gulou.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] All Aboard

I enjoy taking trains all over China exploring the various landscapes but the moment you board the train is always an exciting moment filled with anxiety for the journey ahead and relief that you caught the train on time. The photo  below is my attempt on trying to capture this moment and feelings before I boarded the train at Baotou, Inner Mongolia en route back to Beijing for a 14 hour train ride. The longest train ride that I have ever experienced in China is 45 hours from Wuhan to Urumqi in Xinjiang province to the far west. You basically have 4 options in China on a train: standing, sitting, hard sleepers and soft sleepers. Obviously, the soft sleepers are the most expensive and you get a private compartment that can fit up to 4 people. Long distance train rides are great environments to converse with local people and connect with their lives over instant noodles or drinks.

At Baotou Railway Station boarding the 14 hour train ride back to Beijing

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] Chinese Longevity

I really enjoy walking around Lama Temple on the weekends. Here, you can  see so many things that make you feel like you are in China. Since I spend most of my time in the central business district, it’s really nice to get out and walk around the hutong. I found these peach-looking objects with a chinese character on it. This character 寿means longevity in Chinese and you can find this character all over China within people’s houses. We can all agree that a long, healthy, prosperous life is one of the most admirable and highest goals of humanity and especially in China longevity is something that is valued highly. The peach is not only a symbol of longevity but it comes from an ancient story of the fruit that enables immortality which this peach of immortality can only be planted every 3000 years.


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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] Flying

Photo taken at a park by Narita Airport in Japan during my 10hour lay over back to Beijing


[Monthly Mix] gowhere? December Dance Mix

I’ve been behind on my music for the past couple months but I finally had some time to hit the studio in Beijing. In Beijing, 2 hours of studio time is about 200rmb which is about 30USD. It’s not bad at all. For December’s Dance Mix I wanted to fit in all kinds of music ranging from funk, disco, electronic, trance, hip-hop, trip-hop, house, indies dance into a one 40minute mix. Whether you’re at work, studying for exams, throwing a party, or going for a jog, give this mix a try. I’m sure there’s something you’ll like. Check out the December Dance Mix and Tracklist here.

gowhere? December Dance Mix

TRACKLIST
1. Kavinsky – Pacific Coast Highway (Original Mix)
2. Fan Death – Veronica’s Veil (Erol Alkan’s Extended Rework)
3. Pryda – Rakfunk
4. Steve – The Joker Remix
5. Aniki – Lesbian Bondage Fiasco (Original Mix)
6. Still Going – Spaghetti Circus
7. Cee-Lo – Fuck You (Get Low! Remix)
8. Sia – Clap Your Hands (Prince Vince Remix)
9. Dizzee Rascal – Dirtee Disco
10. Sammy Bananas – My Body
11. Cheek a.k.a. Gilb’R – Venus (Sunshine People) (DJ Gregory remix)
12. Agent Stereo – Sexy Dancer
13. Boys Noize – Jeffer
14. Felix Cartal – Love (Clockwork Remix)
15. Afrojack ft. Eva Simons – Take Over Control Remix (Barletta Remix)
16. The Squatters – Monster (Original Mix)
17. Thunderheist – Jerk It (Nacho Lovers Remix)
18. Rusko feat. Gucci Mane – Got Da Groove
19. Shinichi Osawa – Thank You For Your Love


[Photos] Dongzhimen meets Xizhimen

I feel like Beijing is so large that every area of this city has its own vibe. On the north east and north west corners of the second ring road is the major transportation hub to the outskirts of Beijing: Xizhimen and Dongzhimen. For every one of these areas in Beijing I feel that there is a building that represents the areas. For Dongzhimen I feel that the China Petro Headquarters building stands out and for Xizhimen, the Xihuan Square building definitely stands out.

Xihuan Square in Xizhimen at night.

CNPC Headquarters in Dongzhimen at night.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Beijing Nightlife] Amilal

This is easily one of my favorite bars in Beijing that a friend of mine introduced me to on my very first month here in Beijing. Amilal is a tucked away hutong bar near Nanluoguxiang and provides a quiet environment where you can just enjoy a drink over some good conversation with your friends. I recommend it to anyone who wants a chill night and want to feel like a Beijing hipster.

White wine at Amilal 30rmb

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] The Battle

Here’s a photo I took on the boat of a fishing chair that is used to reel in the fish. Primarily used for larger size fish, at times a quiet chair but also a place where the battle between man and fish occurs.


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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Reflections] Touring 3 Countries in 12 hours.

What a day. I woke up this morning in the sunny beaches of Guam and checked out of my hotel and headed for the airport. As the plane took off for my second country of the day, Japan, I could see the beautiful ocean surrounding the island of Guam. 3 hours later I arrived to Japan where I was faced with a tough decision to either stay in the Narita Inetrnational Airport for 8 hours before my connecting flight to Beijing or to head out of the airport for a couple of hours. As you may know, Narita International Airport is NOT located in Tokyo. In fact, it’s located in another prefecture: Chiba. A lot of people think that a short lay over in Narita Airport is enough time to check out downtown Tokyo but it takes at least a 2 hours roundtrip from the airport to the heart of Tokyo. The largest city surrounding the airport is Narita city  but again, there’s really not too much to do in this city. But since Narita International Airport Terminal 1 has even fewer options and things to do I decided to head out.
I’ve been in China for the last 6 months and so this was the first time back in Japan since I left. I noticed that there are much more Chinese tourists now in Japan than before. It’s always interesting to observe Japanese people and Chinese tourists visiting Japan interact with one another. The Japanese shopkeepers don’t speak English nor Chinese and the old Chinese man will continue to force his way through his thick Chinese accent. In short, the Japanese vendor tells him to write down which number he wants  but this message does not go through. They spend about 3 minutes just staring at each other and the old Chinese man is getting a bit annoyed and impatient. For the first time in his life no one understands him. I think these kinds of interactions are important no matter what for the future of these two neighboring states. The more Chinese people and Japanese people interact the better for the understanding. Today, I spent a total of 4 hours in Japan just observing these interactions and by the end of it I saw that both sides usually try to help each other to accomplish what they want. I headed back to Narita International Airport and hopped on a plane back to Beijing where pollution welcomed me back home. I still can’t believe I was on an island this morning watching the sunrise by the palm trees on th beach.

Two Lover's Point in Guam.

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[Photo] Guam in December

December in Guam is filled with Japanese tourists. Local tourism industry is adapting to Japanese needs by speaking Japanese and reverse localizing their culture and food into flavors that the Japanese find it more pleasing. Picture taken at Tumon Bay.

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[Quick Update] Going to Guam for the Weekend. Will be back Next Week

Hey all, I will be in Guam for the weekend so I will be back posting mid next week. The last time I was at a beach was in Miami.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photo] Hot Pot in Gui Jie

It’s getting really cold in Beijing and the best way to stay warm is to get some hot pot. Here is a photo from my most recent hot pot experience in Gui Jie. Pretty much, the idea is to dump all the meat, vegetables, noodles, and dumplings into the pot and just keep eating. Also known as Ghost Street, Gui Jie is home to over 200 Chinese style restaurants that are open 24 hours.

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[Photos] 2nd Ring Road at Dongzhimen

Notoriously known for its traffic jams, the 2nd ring road is one of the major roads in Beijing connecting transportation hubs around the city. To the North East is Dongzhimen and to the North West is Xizhimen. Even with never-ending congestion, I really like night photos of cars moving by during night-time rush hours.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Beijing Lifestyle] The Scariest thing on the road in Beijing: Audi A6

Today’s post might be found as being random but I really need to get this out to everyone. Every day I get up and go to work like most people do here in Beijing. I walk about 5 minutes from my apartment to the subway station and take the subway for about 2 stops where I get off. From this subway stop I walk about 10 minutes listening to music on my ipod and sometimes I forget that I am indeed in China where pedestrians never get the right of the way. Even when the light is green one must make sure there are no cars coming. I Look left, then right and then look left and right again just to be sure. In China, there’s a common feeling the driving is power and has authority on the road. One can see cars parked in sidewalks and parked in the most inconvenient places. Within the hierarchy of automobiles in Beijing, I personally have noticed that there are way more Audi’s than a Mercedes or a BMW. I was told that driving a Audi A6 is a way Chinese people show off their status as only government officials in China back in the days could ride them. Even more, I have noticed that the nature of the driving attitude in China is bad as it is, but Audi A6 drivers are easily the worst. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Audi’s and all but with the driving attitude and the numerous number of, let me add another description, a Black Audi A6’s, this vehicle has really been one of my biggest enemies and frightening thing on the streets. So everyone in Beijing, beware of Audi A6. In Beijing, even commuting to work is a survival game.

Beijing Central Business District in the pollution. There is no Audi A6 in sight but you never know when it will pop out at you.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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