I have always found the way the Gregorian calendar begins to be peculiar. We start in January- which is when natural life decides to turn away from everything it has known and loved until the following season reawakens it. To me, it feel's like starting at the end and thus I mentally feel as though the rest of the year is playing catch up to compensate for some ludicrous and nonexistent lost time. I am lucky though that now I feel completely refreshed by the continuing cleansing of spring as I walk through the paths that not even two months ago were dead and lifeless but now are pulsing with radiant and colorful life. It's during seasons like these where I find myself regaining the continuous motivation I have inside my mind which remained dormant during the winter months- where even my silliest of fantasies maintain a reverence of possibility. It's bright outside now- and with it brings warmth. Spring feels like a start- so why must the calendar not start with it? Logically I know why- but oftentimes logic and feelings disagree entirely. My dreams may seem murky- but I'm sure that's just the pollen talking.
Spring has arrived in Japan- and along with it the cherry blossoms. This year the sakura (cherry blossoms) bloomed particularly early- ruining the, "perfectly timed" vacations of many a wide eyed tourist. I love the sakura- it reminds me of the first week I moved to Japan a year ago. At that time I was confused and scared- a natural feeling accompanying a major change to my life. This feeling of absolute trepidation however vanished when I turned the corner of my local shrine to see the (unexpected) sakura in full bloom with their pedals drifting through the wind in a dreamlike state of perfection. At that moment my worries acted as if they were the pedals themselves and were carried away. The natural beauty of this country is always surprising through its sheer diversity. Each season in Japan is unique, and thereby special. Upon reflection winter is definitely my least favorite, things being dead not making much material for moments of wonder, but it has it's moments of absolute astonishment (snow). In about two weeks will be the one year anniversary of my move to Japan- and for many reasons this particular moment in time feels like one of renewal. The refreshment is emphasized by the literal returning of the season of life- but it gives me a feeling of hope once more as I look forward. My future is unclear to say the least- but at least I have a fantastic view as I figure it all out.
Recently I went back to my Japanese origin point- Kamakura. Exactly ten years ago my father took me to Japan on a "dart thrown at the map" style trip for a ludicrously short three or four days. Given that I'm typing this inside my Japanese apartment deep in the countryside of Japan, I suppose this trip left a deep subconscious impression on me. We stayed in Tokyo mainly but my memories of that are fuzzy and full of flashes Blue Hawaiian Pepsi and rather good Italian food- the day trip to Kamakura was far more distinct. Firstly we took the wrong train to Kamakura, where the attendent apologized profusely to us and asked us to leave to train at Kita-Kamakura station. I still remember vividly me repeating the word "Kita-Kamakura" because I liked the way the word sounded, chanting it as if it were a commercial jingle. We waited by the sign and promptly boarded the correct train to Kamakura. We arrived and headed straight to the Daibutsu (known as The Giant Buddha to my dad). We arrived, and took photos respectively.
Looking back now I can cringe at my stylish choice of a Wii Sports shirt- but that moment will forever be cemented in my brain as a beginning of sorts. My decision to move to Japan was not based on this moment (yes Mom, it wasn't) but it instead implanted a feeling of- for lack of any adequate way to express it- peacefulness. Even now thinking back to the trip I can only envision the calming colors of greens and blues- extenuated by the rainy backdrop of Japan in June. It was so long ago and I was so young that the memories of the voyage are foggy as a result- but the lasting impression of calmness remains. It was the first time I remember taking vacation photos, utilizing a broken Canon point and shoot that had a wonderful habit of turning off in the middle of shooting- but the opportunity to snap photos excited me.
Most of the photos are standard touristy photos- out of focus and riddled with a disturbing number of vending machine shots- but they were mine. Growing up my parents had framed photos on the wall of their many, many trips around the world- and this Japan trip was the first time I remember seeing the world and wanting to capture it through my own camera.
My Dad and I walked around the Giant Buddha and I bought a pair of chopsticks (the only souvenir that I wanted from Japan, how cute). In fact, I still have those chopsticks- for three years they were even in the flower holder in my first car (a 2001 black VW beetle hand me down from my Mom, then Brother). Apart from the Daibutsu we didn't have a plan in Kamakura so we ended up walking around for 5 minutes- stumbling upon another temple which we explored. We didn't know anything about it, not even the name, but we walked up and down the slopes taking in the lushes scenery. As it turns out it was Hasedera temple- which we found again by accident when my parents came to visit me in the summer of 2017 while we visited the Giant Buddha once more. After that my memory of the trip runs dry- a murky haze of corrupted image files within my brain.
Flash forward ten years: I'm living in Japan trying to achieve my dream of being a travel photographer and I make a day trip back to Kamakura- this time by myself armed with all of my camera equipment.
I step off the train and am met instantly with a feeling of nostalgia- not just for my first trip to Japan, but also the trip with my best friend and the trip when my family visited me. I walked around the Bamboo forest of Hokokuji and the staircases of Hasedera contemplating just how much my life has changed since I was a Wii Sports T-shirt wearing 14 year old. I'm an adult now with (allegedly) some responsibilities, but in many ways I still feel the same- albeit with a different and much heavier camera. I was glad to return back to Kamakura once more as it may be the most important city in Japan for me: the city that draws a deep connection between my life now and the my family that is very dear to me.