It cannot be overstated how important rice is to Japan, and once you spend a few days here you will see. Rice fields are abound. Some are large, some are small. Beyond any first impressions looking from a train or a car, your understanding of this importance will really set in when you eat.
Rice is used in so many products. I will not even try to catalog that. You can find out more here if you like. But when you eat, you’ll probably have white rice, or perhaps melting mochi in a hot bowl of soup. If you’re fortunate, you’ll have delicately made sweets with tea, or better yet, saké, all of which needs rice.
Before the harvest, when rice is cut and bundled, is when you see people toiling to beat time, the daylight, or the coming frost. And when you see the standing bundles of rice, you almost feel like they’re people, waiting to be taken home. Rather eerie at night under a lit moon.
Japan is a country of tidiness and detail. Space is not a large commodity as the population is restricted to roughly 25% of the land. The rest is too mountainous. It is in the Japanese tenacity for detail you see little touches which amount to a lot. It can be maddening on some levels, but with food and crafts it is wondrous.
I was first drawn to Japanese rice fields by their perfectly straight rows, or the tiny little paths in between each neighboring rice field. But I really was drawn to the this manner of bundling recently. Despite Japan’s obvious modernity, seeing this done so naturally, perhaps traditionally, was refreshing.
The convenient use of the rice stalk itself to bundle the whole was quite natural, I thought. It may not seem like a big deal, but when you pass uncut fields one day, then the next they’re suddenly populated but these erected bundles of rice, you are struck a little. It must have taken a bit of effort! If you’re like me, you would ask yourself how this occurred so quickly while making use of the knot on not only one, but a multitude of bundled souls.
PS…if you eat a bowl of rice in Japan, remember not to leave a single grain in the bowl. Some people would perceive that as rude, or wasteful. Harvesting rice is usually a group effort. Perhaps you will appreciate even more the effort that went into bringing you that humble bowl.
I’m very interested in expanding my sense of what the ethics are for street photography.
Eric Kim posted the same issue a few days ago here. He made some great points, including the idea that taking pictures of kids should be fine. I want to agree with that, but there is a part of me that is wary. Having a child of your own will do that; it’s easy to see both sides. No matter, taking pictures of anyone requires sensitivity. Some people won’t protest, but we may never know whether they cared or not.
Nevertheless, the question of ethics in street photography remains elusive, and perhaps only the individual can arrive at their own private conclusion.
Eric Kim’s post begin’s with Bruce Gilden‘s quote, “I have no ethics.”
What about you? Would love to get comments on this one. I promise there’s no judgement from me; I’m no one to cast a verdict.
What is “Street Photography”? Click here. It’s a good example. I suppose “Street Photography” is about people, unposed people, actually. Some add that it’s also things, stuff, and other daily sights that for some reason get your attention enough to warrant a picture. One of the iN-Public photographers said that street photography is about expression, reaction, interaction, etc… I suppose that could apply to more than humans. Animals react: birds on a power line. In-animate objects “react”: a bag hovering on a windy day.
The website http://www.in-public.com/ has a manifesto that basically states that pictures help remind us of what’s going on around us. In other words, the over-familiar is too easily forgotten, so street photography is about staying in touch.
Why am I even writing this? I guess I just wanted to say it and see my own thoughts on it. I’m intrigued by good street photography. It’s an art-form to catch someone off-guard, in that perfect moment of light and circumstance. I guess I’m thinking about it so I can become better at it. I want to display better moments in my collection, and not just in-animate things. Japan is rather iconic. She’s easily seen in traditional light, but there are more current, deeper things happening. I’d like to tap into that more.
Thanks for reading