A while ago William Milberry went to a flea market in the Hakozaki district of Fukuoka city. Like all flea markets the places was full of old and interesting things from the past. I found an old roll of Fuji 35mm color film in a box of junk. It wasn’t in a canister and was fully rewound, so it seemed as if it had been used.
I couldn’t resist the curiosity and struck up a conversation with the old man running selling the stuff.
William Milberry: 「この古いフィルムはどんな写真が入っているかな。。。」 (I wonder what kind of photos are on this film?…)
old Japanese man: 「さあ、分からん。」 (I don’t really know.)William Milberry: 「気になるから、百円はどう？」 (I’m curious, how about 100 yen?)
old Japanese man: 「（笑）いいよ。」 ((laughing) Sure. )
I took the film home and decided to develop it as black and white in HC110 – a developer which is pretty decent at cross-processing as well as working on really old or damaged film. The film itself was out of control curly, it had obviously been wound up inside the 35mm canister for years if not decades. It came out of the developer almost jet black. I was able to scan two images off of it …
These photos are very intriguing because they offer a little window into a past, forgotten time. I’m very much a follower of the wabisabi aesthetic and accept and enjoy the deterioration in these photos because it was imparted by time. It invites me to imagine the film’s history and journey from some Japanese person’s camera, to the flea market, and now around the world to my home in America.
I’ve always been a fan of Buddhist art. I would often go on long scooter rides through the countryside and every time I saw a temple I’d stop to explore and photograph it.
To the southwest of the town I lived in there was a Buddhist temple that always caught my attention when I passed it. The side of the road dropped off steeply and about 2 stories down was the temple with a cemetery next to it. The day I took this photo I stopped by with one of my vintage cameras (I can’t recall which one, it might have been my Super Ricohflex). While walking around the temple grounds, an old Japanese lady saw me. I politely asked her if it was OK for me to be there and shoot photos? Rather than asking me what country I was from as so many from my rural area impulsively did, the old lady smiled at me and started telling me about the history of the temple.
According to her the temple burnt down a long time ago and was rebuilt. The gate was the only original part that survived. She suggested that I take a picture of the gate, which turned out to make a nice photo:
The simplest things in life often become the longest lasting memories
One of my great joys in life is wandering around an unfamiliar place with my camera. This came from one such wandering in Nagasaki.
One of the schools I taught at in Japan was large (~1,000 students) and old. The decades had worn on the main classroom building quite a bit. Students were moved to temporary buildings as the main building was scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt, adhering to new earthquake resistence standards.
The number of memories held by these walls must be uncountable … first loves, best friends, fights, successes, failures. No matter what memories one winds up carrying away from their high school experience, it is an extremely rich time in our lives in terms of memories, experience, and development. Japanese, who culturally have very strong group identity, seem to feel particularly strong about their schools. I wonder how the graduates of this school feel about it’s demolition? Is it the end of an era,or the rebirth and continuance of it?
Given the native Japanese religion of Shintoism’s views on renewal, my guess is that most would look upon it positively. The main national Shinto shrine, located at Ise, actually has it’s main building torn down and rebuilt every 20 years.
My guess is that while the buildings wall’s seem full of memories, the actual holding place of the memories is in the existence of the school.
(Shot on film – Kodak 400tx @ HC110)
There is a small oddly shaped island off the coast of Karatsu. It’s more like a little hill that sticks out of the tree and is aptly named “Takashima” or which means “Tall Island.” There are only a few dozen people living on it and a few ferries there and back each day.
Japan likes to look like a modern country, but it still has a lot of the old-world left in it
A slow afternoon in the shop
I spent a day shooting in Karatsu which is sleepy seaside town in the north-west corner of Kyushu.
The town in home to an amazing festival held at the beginning of November called Karatsu Kunchi. The festival is hundreds of years old and designated as an intangible cultural treasure. The town also produces beautiful Japanese-style ceramics.