We sped away from the island of Shikoku knowing that the last part of our trip would reveal increasingly urban areas of Japan—Kanazawa 金沢市, Kyoto 京都市, and Tokyo 東京.
When the past two weeks are marked by isolating wilderness and people who recognize you by the backpacks you hoist onto your shoulders it’s a bit jarring when the landscape increasingly becomes grey and neon, more crowded and muffled with the din of movement and of waiting in queues. We were looking forward to a bit—or a lot—of civilization however even though the throngs of tourists with their iPads reflecting light into our eyes sometimes made us long for Yakushima or the wilds of Shikoku and its cedar groves.
Kanazawa had us exploring Kenroku-en Garden 兼六園, observing the groundskeepers caring for every bit of pathway and the sunshine that made even the smallest crevices viscerally bright. Kyoto and its bamboo groves, turquoise water, temples, pavilions, potted gardens, and soft serve iced cream. We strayed away from the crowds when we could and for a moment even had a stretch of the Arashiyama 嵐山 bamboo grove to ourselves. In Tokyo, we located a number of independent camera shops, all managed by grumpy shopkeepers and lit with fluorescent lights; stared at men staring at manga; visited the Tsukiji Fish Market 築地市場 when all had settled down for fish and fisherpeople alike; immersed ourselves by walking in and around and around Akihabara, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Ginza, Ebisu, Ikebukuro, Roppongi, Shimokitazawa, and other places that slip our conscious thoughts but not our muscle memory—as if we’ve made storehouses of our legs and of our hands.
After all, it only seems right to walk and feel our feet pulsing with a city so alive and yet so hushed by movement and waiting—the very same we were greeted with and the same as we departed.
We’ll return some day.
Written by Amy & Tomasz
All photographs by Tomasz Wagner on a Contax G2 using the 21mm f2.8, 45mm f2, and 90mm f2.8
Developed by ABC Photo and self-scanned with the Pakon F135
Music — Join Me on My Avalanche by Explosions in the Sky