Posts tagged “Photography

The Misconception of “Tokyo = Japan”

This topic has been on my mind for quite some time especially after living abroad and hearing from my non-Japanese friends talk about their travel experiences in Japan. Especially after the 3.11 crisis, one of the first reactions I noticed was the foreign concern over whether or not Tokyo was affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Second impression was people saying “Oh Tokyo is not affected, phew then everything is cool”. I agree, Tokyo is the capital city; center for Japan’s politics, economy, culture and society and if Tokyo was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, the effect on Japan and the entire globe would have been detrimental(hence the nuclear reactors were strategically tucked away in a local environment but we can talk more on this later). But from my experience abroad, besides a small number of Chinese people who have come to  love the flower gardens in Hokkaido, most people will definitely start off in Tokyo and maybe visit Kyoto to see the “ Real Japanese culture” if they have time. I think it’s right to say that most people can’t name another prefecture other than Tokyo or Osaka. From this concept  it is not a mistake for foreigners to think that Tokyo is what Japan is all about. But from this 3.11 crisis and the effect of the Tohoku region to the rest of Japan has taught us that a much more balanced country with resources spread across the entire country is desperately in need.  But domestically speaking, why is everyone moving to Tokyo? This summer I have spent much of my time traveling around the local scenes around Japan and I can clearly see that not only the birth rate in Japan is in decline but it’s even more severe in the regions outside of Tokyo. “The youths have all left and found a new living in Tokyo and Osaka” said one of the shop keepers in Miyazaki prefecture.

This trend of human resources, information technology centering in Tokyo has stopped the development of other areas in Japan. When in times of crisis I can’t stop but to think of how the US has New York as its financial center and Washington DC as the center for politics; China has Shanghai and Beijing … you get my point. But this nuance of “If I go to Tokyo, I can make something/prove something for myself” ideology still exists today especially within the youth. It’s also interesting to note that the flexible and easy passage to Tokyo, making it possible for anyone in Japan to relocate to Tokyo. For a comparison with China, it’s not that easy for a Chinese person living in a third tier city to move into Beijing just because there’s more opportunities in Beijing. You need to have enough money saved up to get by in Beijing. Either way, this crisis has taught us many lessons and this idea of centralizing everything into Tokyo needs to stop now and regional government bodies need to step up. Is another round of Tokyo re-bidding to host the 2020 summer olympics really necessary? I’d prefer seeing Hiroshima and Nagasaki co-host it more than anything. Surprisingly enough I run into people who are surprised that the city or Hiroshima still even exists today…

I don’t know the GDP break up of Korea off the top of my head but Seoul as the financial center and capital could be similar to Japan as its proximity to the North Korean border(DMZ) has always been a concern to many of the Korean specialists that I have come into contact with.

Around Shibuya Station in Tokyo in the afternoon with busy traffic

A platform at JR Shibuya Station

The JR Subway Map at Shibuya Station. Most prefectures surrounding Tokyo have benefited from the proximity to Tokyo and its relatively cheaper real estate.


[Photo Essay] 798 Art District During Blue Hour

Beijing may not have the flash of Shanghais bund view and skyline but 798 Art District is Chinas answer to Greenwich Village and SOHO in New York. This art zone is a thriving artistic community that attracts artists and visitors from in and out of China. Located in Dashanzi of Chaoyang District, Beijing, this art district and its galleries thrives among 50-year old decommissioned military factory buildings, making it interesting to look at the archetecture. This photo essay takes a look at 798 Art District during blue hour, which refers to the period at twilight in the morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness.

6:30pm: Man walks by a dinosaur exhibit. Visitors can interact with public art throughout the entire art zone.

6:45pm: It is starting to get darker but on the bright-side, its only during this time that one can enjoy a moment with the artwork since daytime is always crowded with visitors.

6:50pm: The outlines of this cage-exhibit is seen in contrast to the blue hour-sky.

7:00pm: One of the main galleries, 798 Space Gallery, is seen in this image.

7:15pm: This artwork is titled "Man at Work". Sky is completely blue at this moment.

8:00pm: One of the sub-factories at 798 art district is seen next to an old railroad.


[Photo] View from Jingshan Park, Beijing

It’s been an interesting year as many of my friends from Japan and the US has visited me thus far. I think I was slowly getting used to the same old routine of sleep, eat, and work and I rarely had a chance to get out and see Beijing these days. Here is a photo that I took from the top of Jingshan Park, located directly north of the forbidden city.


[Photos] Beijing Jungle, Behind the Scenes of Pets Conspiracy

I’ve been posting and tweeting a lot about Japan these days, for obvious reasons, and I didn’t get a chance to post photos from the beginning of the month when I was an honorable extra for a China based band, Pets Conspiracy‘s music video shoot.  When people ask me what Beijing is like compared to other cities around the world, I can’t come up with a better analogy than saying that “It’s like a jungle”. There’s so much going on in Beijing  and I believe this energy level I can feel from this amazing city and its people is what attracts so many people to come here. Survival of the fittest might even fit in this analogy with Beijing. But what happens when you actually have animals taking over Beijing? This is what happens: Beijing Jungle. Enjoy the photos from the shoot and I will update my site when the actual music video comes out. Also, see if you can find me.


[Flashback] Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture 2010

I debated whether or not I should post these photos but I can’t stop but to think of Matsushima, one of the three views in Japan. Located in Miyagi Prefecture, Matsushima is a group of 260 islands, in various sizes, covered in pine trees. With the earthquake last Friday, I have seen many sources that this scenery is now gone and 600 people were killed in this area. I saw twitter feeds saying that the tsunami came through Matsushima and now it is empty and it doesn’t have the same feel that it did last week before the earthquake hit. For the latest updates on Japan’s situation and road to recovery, I am translating Japanese media into English on my twitter feed @gokatayama. Feel free to follow me and join in on the conversation.


[Photos] Jinshanling Great Wall

There’s a famous saying不到长城非好汉 – “He who does not reach the Great Wall is not a true man”. I don’t like writing about some of the touristy aspects of China, since Beijing has way more to offer than just the main tourist destinations and other writers can rant about that, but not many people know that there are various sections of the Great Wall that is open to tourists. The most touristy part of the wall is the easiest to get to and, in my opinion, the most un-authentic part of the wall: Badaling Great Wall. During peak season at Badaling, you will have to physically wait in line to climb the great wall. There are many other sections of the wall but here are some photos from Jinshanling Great wall from November 2010. It’s a bit harder to get to since it’s 100 kilometers away from central Beijing but if you want to experience the Great Wall where there’s not to many people and hike through the beaten paths, Jinshanling Great Wall is the best choice for you.


[Photo] Fukuyama, Japan

There’s a saying in Japan “haya oki wa san mon no toku” meaning “Waking early gets you three mon”, in other words “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” So this past break in Japan I tried to get up early enough so that I can capture the start of the day in Fukuyama city in Hiroshima Prefecture. Nothing special as you would see in the metropolis of Tokyo but it’s got a nice vibe to it.


[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.

 


[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.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[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.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[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.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo] Flying

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


[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.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[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.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[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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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.


[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.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com


[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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[Photo] Lost in the World

As I have noted throughout this week, the air quality in Beijing has been poor the past couple days. The AQI usually is high during the morning rush hour period and then it cools down during noon and the AQI kicks backup again around 4pm. But what happens when pollution and working late night happens? This happens:

Photo taken at Guomao Central Business District at 1am.

I have been snapping photos around Beijing all week of this pollution so stay tuned for a photo essay from this entire week. Oh, by the way the Track “Lost in the World” by Kanye West has been on repeat for me all week.

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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.


[Air Quality] Today at 3pm vs Two weeks ago at 3pm

Every morning when I wake up in Beijing, the very first thing I do is to open the blinds to see how the air quality is outside. Two seconds later I’m either in an extremely good mood or I close the blinds immediately and fall back to sleep for a couple more minutes or so. On a lucky week, Beijing does get its share of blue sky’s but when its really polluted, I can’t walk outside without a mask.  The Air Quality Index does a pretty good job measuring the air quality in Beijing as I have noted in my previous post. For reference, Air Quality Index (AQI) of 470 on a scale of 500 looks like this:

On the other hand,  two weeks ago at the same time at a AQI of 100 looked like this:

As you can see, it’s quite a difference. The lesson here is to be thankful when you have a blue sky and don’t take it for granted. I think these visual comparisons make it easy to understand and I’ll be coming up with more comparisons in the future.

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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.


[Photo] Autumn Tree at Xuanwumen, Beijing

It's been really cold in Beijing the past couple days. I think winter is already here. Stay tuned for my next Photo Essay from the TedxBeijing event I attended over the weekend. This picture was taken at Xuanwumen on 11/13/2010.

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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.


[Photo] Growing up in Gulou

Photo taken in Gulou right by Drum Tower. Growing up, I think Hutong communities are the perfect playground for kids.

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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] 10:32PM Shuangjing, Beijing

The hustling city of Beijing is a great place to be. There’s so much excitement during the day but when the clock hits about 9pm or 10pm the city of over 20 million people gets relatively quiet. Seems to me that Chinese families usually go home early and start their day early. Even the Beijing Subways are closed around 10:30pm. From Shuangjing, one subway station south of Guomao, the central business district in Beijing, one can get a nice view of the Beijing skyline. When we think of skylines in China, we all think of the Bund in Shanghai. For those of you not familiar, here’s a photo of the skyline at night from the south side of Guomao.

Taken from the southside of Guomao in Shuangjing. You can see Jianwai SOHO, China World Tower and the LG Twin Towers.

At night, Beijing experiences a relatively quiet environment much different from daytime.

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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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[Modernity] How the new Census in China will affect Migrant Workers

We all know that China is the world’s most populous country but when we ask how many people are actually in China, even government officials in China have a hard time answering. So what does China do? China is currently experiencing a once in a decade census where for two weeks, 6 million census workers are knocking on each and every door asking for household information. But with an estimated 1.3347 billion people and counting, it’s not an easy task. For the census workers, by far the largest challenge will be counting and obtaining the information of the countrie’s migrant workers. 2009 data suggests an estimated 211 million migrant workers in all of China. Compassion for Migrant Children‘s data shows that about one-third of the population in Beijing are migrant workers.
How is this problematic? Before this year, the census was carried out depending on the individual’s hukou, household registration at birth. But starting this year, census is now based on where you now reside. But most migrant workers who come to urban cities like Beijing for higher wages don’t have the official capacity to reside in Beijing lacking proper paper work which is hard to obtain. Without proper documentation, migrant workers and their family members are denied access from public education and basic healthcare in Beijing. One could say that the backbone of rapid urbanization in China are the migrant worker’s hard labor. But with no proper documentation and some families illegally having more than one child, migrant worker’s families face a hard decision as census workers are coming around knocking door to door. If caught with  having more than one child, they will be fined and perhaps even be deported back to their home towns.
Even in my apartment building I felt suspicious that the non-Beijing accented workers are always going to the 14th floor of my building. With ever-rising housing costs, I found out that 20-30 migrant workers were sharing a 2 bedroom apartment. With this current reality of migrant workers it will be interesting to see how the census turns out as the counting closes in a week.

The backbone of China's rapid urbanization, a migrant worker continues labor even late at night.

This construction site began in early July and they have built this much already.

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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.