As I stepped outside, leaving behind the warm confines of the heated living room, I could quickly feel the chill lifelessness of the Yokohama winter surround my exposed face; an invisible, biting veil of wind that seems to only exist when the sun is below the horizon. It was just before 5am and the morning sky was still dark, nearly void of stars as they dodged their way in and out of view of the low hanging clouds. With my gloved hand, I shut the front door to Sekinei’s house, and waited motionless on the porch for him to get ready. So there I stood, unseen save for the haze of condensation from each exhaling breath. Giving up the fight to keep my eyes open, I slowly closed them and let my mind wander until it decided to focus on the present.
In this moment of private solace, with no one but the familiar dull of the clouds overhead keeping me company, I recalled memories from a place I’ve grown much accustomed to over the past 8 years. No longer is Japan the enigmatic, perplexing land I once knew. After nearly 30 round-trip journeys across the Pacific, I’ve come to extract a relaxed informality with it all. The unexpected has escaped me, and I’ve come to realize that my admiration with the country has dulled. The world is a small place, and thinking rationally, the wonderment of it all can be explained rather easily.
When it comes down to it, I am just a person, which happens to be in a place at this moment, this door step in Yokohama. I took an airplane here from California, and a train from Narita. My good friend, and companion in this website venture, picked me up from a train station and brought me to his house; nothing spectacular in its own right. It’s been done before; everything has been done before. Millions upon millions of people, from all around the world, travel to far off locations – Japan included. We grow personally from it, but we’re not any better than one person because of it. I hear so many people talk about how much better so and so is than their home country, and how they wished certain things were different at home. The funny thing is I hear the same things from locals. It would seem that boredom and complacency is prevalent in all countries, and that the grass must always be greener on the other side. Not that it’s something to be easily dismissed, but I believe boredom to be the fault of ourselves, not our present locale. And I wouldn’t say not being grateful is necessarily the main issue (although it may be a contributing factor), but perhaps more so the lack of effort made to see our lives in a different light.
I still remember the awe-stricken state I was in the first time I visited Japan. Passing through the looming metropolis of Tokyo, questioning the unfamiliar entertainments of the citizens, basking in the beauty of the countryside and the stark contrast it has to the populated areas. Capturing everything I could with my camera in my own compositions. After a few years though, the overwhelming excitement wore off. I stopped going to Tokyo, it was too heavy for me. I found no draw to it any longer. I began to question how I could accurately capture what I was thinking. Was it even necessary? Why did my view of it matter more than anyone else’s? After all, I had been doing the very same others were, so what made my perspective any more or less important? It would appear though, that the difference only becomes apparent when we question why we chose to do it.
This mindset has grown regardless of where I travel. It’s quite ubiquitous in Japan due to my frequency, but it’s the same everywhere I go…even at home sometimes. It’s becoming more of an approach to my life in itself. Despite all this though, regardless of what the musings in my head say, I am proven wrong time and time again. New places and old, I am given experiences that I revere as my own – given to me on an individual level. That may be a selfish way of looking at things, but it’s not untrue. I’ve met some of the most incredible people in Japan; specifically in the industry I chose to plant my roots so to speak. And those relationships have opened doors to expand my attitude in tremendous ways.
If there is purity in what you do, it will always mean something, and people will see that. So, go see the world. Document it in your own way. Yeah, it’s been done a hundred thousand times – but it doesn’t make it any less special –Christian Watson.
It’s kind of like saying “I love you”. If you mean it, you mean it.
This is really awesome post!
Im Ray, studying in London orginally from Hong Kong.
Just started my blog about culture and travel
Would be lovely if you amazing people can check it out !
Thanks Ray, cool site. Keep up the blog!
Thank you very much! I’ll try my best 😊
Well that was super cool, I follow your blog from Baton Rouge, LA even if I’m originally from Puerto Rico. I guess I relate to your blog because its niche is my passion… This past year I got to compete in my 1st time attack after years of watching… At the end I ended up 3rd in class but even as I stood on the podium watching the small group cheer, laugh, and take pictures… I felt… well… Thankful!
Its that kinda of moment you stop and take a few seconds to truely be content with how I got there… And mean it!
Amen Brother & Good Vibes your way always!
well done! thanks fernando
Yea, to me once I realized that experience was my own and it’s what I make of it. I began to see life in a whole new light. When people said that I’m sick of so cal etc. I began to think is it the place or the perception of the person.
Sent from my iPhone
it’s not what you look at, it’s what you see :)
This was truly a humbling post, if this doesn’t make someone re-evaluate things then I do not know what will. I can tell you this Sean, if nobody sees the immense talent you have to shoot and create the astounding content before us, you could always take the path of an author. Which you essentially already are in my eyes, keep up all the exceptional work.
thank you for the kind words
That post was really something special. Good job Sean! Keep up the good work! You are truly an inspiration. You have the support of Afterburner! Much love from Fort Wayne, Indiana!
this is the most hipster thing I’ve read all day. you always could go somewhere else, or idk, not go to the place you’re tired of anymore. idk how visiting a place makes feel you know every aspect of it. i’ve lived here for 8 years and still don’t know everything. maybe just try to enjoy life instead of constantly trying to be “different”. you post things about japan and cause a uplift in interest to traveling there, then get upset that other gaijin start to learn the things you know. you’re getting too old to think you’re the only american that’s ever traveled to a place enough to have friends and a small foundation there. I’ll assume i’ll be dismissed as a “hater” for pointing these things out, but that’s the way your generation is i suppose.
Not sure what all that was about, but clearly you are misunderstood. Thanks for visiting!
Great post, and thanks for that photo of Tokyo.. nice one. I lived in the countryside near Tokyo for 3 years, some time ago, and worked right at the base of Tokyo Tower for one of those years. I am powerfully nostalgic for that time I spent there, and I’m finally going to go back and live there for a few months again soon, with my family this time.
In the meantime, I’ve been living vicariously through the lens of yourself and others documenting automotive culture there. I think that you’re touching on what I see as an innate human need for novelty, which I see as being caused by the way humans quickly adapt to, or ‘get used to’ nearly anything. In evolution, it was probably very useful in that it helped humans live through, and thrive in, some terrible conditions. In our modern age, it creates boredom and a yearning for something new and unexpected.
I think that all of us have this within ourselves, but there is most definitely a spectrum – some people actively engage this thirst for novelty by ripping apart their living situation time and again, while others do better by taking a conservative approach. I’ve seen that each person will use different methods over their lifetime as their needs change.
Most people will tell you that they’d prefer to be doing something else, somewhere else, or that they are trying to reach some new goal – this is healthy and desirable, the constant analysis and search for change.
I don’t think I have a point here, other than to say your post triggered some thoughts, recollections, and an introspective few minutes for myself in the madness of the daily grind. And I think that photo, combined with your words, works well to do that – I appreciate these posts scattered among the ‘normal’ hardcore machinery!
Thanks for the reply Jason,
I typically start writing these without a point in mind as well, so no worries there; sometimes it’s nice to externalize your thoughts. I’m glad you’re getting to go back and relive/create new memories in Japan – especially with your family. It’s so much better to share these things with those we love. I agree with your opinion and often find myself noting that most novelties are short lived. It’s a good habit to search for those ideas and people which show qualities of resilience.
Enjoy your time in Tokyo!
I really enjoyed this, Sean! It gave me an encouraging sense of reality. It’s easy to make fantasy of things that exist but aren’t exactly real to us yet; and that can have negative consequences down the line.
And what there is to conquer, by strength and submission, has already been discovered once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot emulate—but there is no competition—there is only the fight to recover what has been lost and found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions that seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss. For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business. – T.S. Eliot
Words of wisdom. Hope to see you again soon, Derek!