Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sunny Saturday Street Photography in Sanjo

After the overwhelming response to my plea for advice on photographing in public in Japan on the blog, Facebook and Twitter (sarcasm intended), I decided to head out once again. This time I went to Sanjo in Kyoto. There was a lot going on and it reminded me of the carnivalesque settings Mikhail Bakhtin describes in his Rabelais and His World - a mixture of people and events creating a cacophony of culture; I had flashbacks from my San Francisco days in the Haight-Ashbury district and Golden Gate Park and more recently the scene around the great cathedral in Cologne, Germany. It was a great opportunity to interact with people and take photographs.

I had no problems asking people's permission to take their photographs, beginning with the young woman handing out flyers for the izakaya she works at. I encountered many interesting people, including street musicians, a group of my own students out for ramen and other adventures, a group of Japanese professors from my university, school girls asking to practice English and even political activists holding a petition drive and political rally criticizing U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

This man introduced himself as Ju-Ju. I first saw him playing percussion on his bicycle with a couple other street performers (the song, Stand By Me...). He spoke English and said he was a jazz musician and tarot card fortune teller. We took pictures of each other and with each other. But my photos definitely fail to capture the character and personality of this man.

The name of this group is Kyoto Action; they are a citizens group opposed to new U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Check out their web page for more information on this important issue.

Link to Kyoto Action's web page (in Japanese):

I had a great time meeting and photographing people in Sanjo. I was able to speak with people in Japanese, English and even Japanese Sign Language. Some people seemed to be attracted to my foreignness, others to my attempt to speak Japanese, and others interested in my camera. It would seem that walking slowly and being friendly is a good method for street photography. Thanks to all who let me take and post their pictures!

No comments: