Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stepping Stones

Unlike railway tracks which suggest a predetermined direction, a path of stepping stones may give us the sense of it being a series of choices. It nevertheless leads to a predetermined place as well. In this sense, it may be more like real life, in which we make many decisions, but may sometimes feel we cannot help but lead ourselves to an inevitable place.

- MT

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Railway tracks are laid to transport people and things to far-away places, smoothly and quickly. When seen from above, they make clear silver lines that sometimes stimulate our imagination. These lines in the photo stir a sense of destiny in my mind. Two sets of lines merge into one in the distance. It can be likened to marriage or friendship. Another set of lines approach from the left. This may be a sibling or someone from our past. A woman and a dog crossing the tracks can be another relationship we come across in our journey throughout our destiny.

- MT

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ticket Booths

I am not particularly fond of bicycle racing but found the color combination of these booths impressive. The Japanese usually do not paint buildings in bright colors such as yellow, red and green. This building is therefore an exception. And, when I look at the scratches and cracks on the wall, I can almost see those who win and lose at the race and hear them screaming and grumbling.
- MT

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Osaka Night

Osaka is the third largest city in Japan in terms of population. Being a Tokyoite, I am not very familar with the city even though I have visited it for short stays several times in the past. This photo was taken from a high-rise hotel and probably reflects one feature of the city: highways and buildings spread to the furthermost edge. Night effectively conceals the chaotic intricacy of the cityscape with the lights giving it a sense of composition.

- MT

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Remote Mountain (3)

When I went to the mountain in the Spring, I was impressed with the serenity of Lake Yakuwa, where trees, half-submerged in the waters, survive and are even thriving, 45 years after the construction of Yakuwa Dam. In the novel I wrote, the newspaper reporter scuba-dives in the lake to find a way to get to the old deserted village about which he heard from a retiring police officer.

- MT

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Remote Mountain (2)

The idea of the story was inspired by the movie "Nell"(1994) in which a small-town Southern doctor discovers a woman who's been raised completely apart from civilization. I changed the situation a bit by moving the locale to a Japanese moutain in which a newspaper reporter discovers a 15 year-old girl. Her parents became isolated from civilization when they refused to move from their mountain home when water from a dam constructed nearby flooded the area around their house.

I'd rather not reveal the whole story. This photo shows one of a few dams located near Tsuruoka, where the main part of the story develops.

- MT

Friday, August 18, 2006

Remote Mountains

The photo was taken a couple of years ago when I went to Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture, in order to begin writing a novel I entitled "Hikyo" (A Remote Mountain). The story is about a girl living alone in a remote mountain region, completely secluded from modern civilization. Of course, no such place exists in present-day Japan. However, this scene fit my idea perfectly. I recently started a painting based on this photo for the forthcoming book.

- MT

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lobster Cook

These lobster dolls may tell us a few things. Firstly, we can eat them because they are ridiculous. Secondly, we can punish them because they act like humans. Thirdly, they should be resurrected as cooks because they deserve compensation. The cooked become cooks by association, or by guilt?

- MT

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Mad Cow

Often times, restaurant owners like to caricature the animal featured in his/her business. By poking fun at it, they may feel that it helps us eat the animal meat without feeling very guilty. This rather serious-looking cow, however, led me to speculate that there may have been other reasons for the shop owner to display this figure.

- MT

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Rainy Shrine

It was raining when I came across this modest and unassuming shrine. It looked very natural with the greens of the moss and leaves. It may be that the rain combined with and enlivened all the components of the scene.

- MT

Monday, August 07, 2006


Symmetry has long been used to attract our attention. This Buddhist temple was not an exception. I was impressed with the numerous vertical lines of the roof, which contrast with the simplicity of the doors and windows.

- MT

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Road Midway

A husband and his wife, probably with a baby in her womb, are walking on a wooden bridge in a park. They may have had a long conversation on the way. The husband is pointing to a discovery he made midway through their walk... Well, scenes like this spark the imagination.

- MT

Saturday, August 05, 2006

After the Rain?

The Nagara River is famous for an annual show of birds called uh catching sweetfish in the water. When I arrived at a hotel by the river in the late afternoon, the sunlight was shining and highlighting the bridge under a clear sky. I noticed that the road and the riverbank were completely wet but could not be sure how or why.

- MT

Friday, August 04, 2006


Sensoji temple in Tokyo is filled with people colebrating the New Year. This event, as well as many similar events taking place at thousands of other temples and shrines in Japan is evidence that the Japanese are religious people. Yet, you may be surprised to know that the majority will say, when asked individually, that they don't believe in any particular religion. The phenomenon has been dealt with in several books in Japan, but without any satisfactory explanation.

- MT

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Clones or What?

If you want to talk about cloning humans, this image may have some relevance. Or, does it? I took this photo at a Buddhist temple dedicated to Kukai, a Japanese monk who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan. These clone-like figures are his miniatures, about two-inches tall. Visitors to the templer buy one of these figures and display it as a symbol of his/her devotion to and faith in the monk. You may notice the white characters inscribed at the bottom of each figure. These are the names of the people who dedicated each. These figures, en masse, demonstrate the wide and intense popularity of Kobodaishi, another name for the monk.

- MT

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


A billboard in the scene from a window is often an annoyance when you are in a hotel room. This electric billboard, however, was so big and bright at night that I could not help noticing the beauty in the combination of colors and darkness that was cut out by the window frame.

- MT

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Hotel rooms have various atmospheres -- humble, gorgeous, pretentious, clean, dusty, dry, wet, warm, and cold. The first impression I get after entering a room usually lasts until I leave the room the next morning. My wife's impression sometimes differs from mine. This may be due to the ways we see things in the room. I tend to look at items like paintings, wall paper/cloth, TV set, soap, and shampoo. When I entered this dimly lit room, the small spotlight above the side table was illuminating the glasses and tea cups. They looked so clean and attractive.

- MT