Tag Archives: Photography
They’d just about had it. It was time to clean up the country and the people at the top weren’t paying them enough and they were part of the problem. A silent coup was the only way to bring a semblance of hope and balance to the country. After so many years of stopping cyclists with broken lights and letting domestic violence cases in the station off with a wave of the hand and a blind eye, they knew it was time to do something to make amends.
It was time to put Grandma in the slammer.
“Where are you taking me Sonny-boy?”
“Routine questioning, just relax.”
“What are you doing?! Stop it!!!”
At first the families always argued. The instinct of protecting the family is a hard to break, after all. It would be okay in a matter of hours though. They’d get Granny in the cuffs, put her along with Pops in the backseat and off they would go to Liquidation. The family then is informed that their relative has volunteered into a home, complete with an address they can be reached.
They never do, though. They never do.
In any case, it was a radical move to do in Hokkaido but it will be looked back on as necessary to allow the youth to take over in the future. Right, right? So what if the kids can’t read kanji or do ikebana? At least the country will be out of the doldrums. First Hokkaido, then Harajuku. That’s the word the chiefs running this renegade cockamamie gamble of an operation keep saying. With each the old soil overturned, new flowers can bloom. The Land of the Rising Sun already had plenty of water around it and it’s got the sun shining overhead.
The ambition of youth is inherent and key to saving the nation. You remove one and are guaranteed to create another.
The nation was always built on division and revolution. This was but one more.
Hail to the era of youth without the old. Those enlightened at 20.
“I love you.”
I can’t say I didn’t expect him to say those words, but they still hit with a raw force. I had let him chase me, after all. I had let him find me, after all. You’d think that time would make things calmer, but it time amplifies as much as it adds perspective. I could see in his eyes that he knew how foolish it was to say these things to me. I had a life outside of here after all. I had just been proposed to in Korea. He’s a good guy, working out in Pyongyang at Lenovo’s branch. He was waiting for me at the hotel. He knew he was being a fool, yet he decided to be as foolish as he could be.
He put his arm around and took a deep breath. I could feel him trembling still from the weight of those words. Such an odd word to use on a man: trembling. So full of vulnerability and weakness from this guy who’s standing a whole head taller than me. Yet, trembling is the only word that comes to mind for how his body shakes. Can’t be the train either.
I said nothing. What could I say?
God, such an awkward spot to make a confession. A train. Going for broke is something best done with intent and not in a spontaneous burst of emotion. Well, it was our only chance alone and how often could he have a chance to say it? He already knew I could say nothing yet he said something for the both of us.
“I love you.” He said again. “You don’t have to say it, just hear it.” Thank god.
Okay, I’ll admit, it was kind of sweet on his part to go all this way just for a girl like me. But they say it’s bad to break a heart. They say it’s worse yet to instill hope where there is none. There was none here. I’d be going to my hotel in Asakusa and then be on a plane bound for Pyongyang the next day. That was where I was needed more. I’d would be there and he would be here. That’d be fine for now.
As his eyes were closed in a silent agony and the train doors slid open, I nuzzled my head against his chest and squeezed his hand one last time.
Shakai-jin. Society and Person. Someone who contributes to society.
After graduating high school I didn’t see much point in going to university. Enough with those stupid books and pointless tests. Hearing some old geezer yak on and on about something that’s so freaking boring! I just wanted to hang out with my friends, drink a Cocktail Partner and play Angelique when I got home.
Although, I gotta admit history class was fun though. Hearing stories of The French Revolution and the killings that ensued. Especially seeing all the gorgeous paintings of the queens and the luxurious dresses they wore. I wanted that. So I got a part-time job at the first department store that would hire me. Saved every yen I could to get my first lolita dress. “Baby The Stars Shine Bright” indeed!
That was about a year ago. Now, I’m working in Harajuku on Takeshita. Been just a few months but things are going pretty good. Keeping the displays maintained, drawing up little signs for what we have in store and watching all the fashionable girls waltz in and out. The best part though is watching all those otaku when I come outside and telling them “NO!” as I walk to and from work. Then going home to my home, having mom cook up something delicious and then I can rest for the next day.
Contributing is nice.
When leaving Rome, keep the Roman in you. Not the part of Empires, pillaging then taxing the pillaged. No, no. That’s too barbaric and I fail to find the joy in that. No passion in destruction. My Rome is Mexico and in Mexico, the Romans dance salsa! It’s even easier to keep being Roman when you happen to be inside a Mexican dance salon. You’d have to be a soulless shell of a father to skip that day in a daughter’s life when she gets married. Not mention dead to turn down the opportunity to go to Prague with her friends from overseas for that event.
I have always loved the Asian mystique. Watching the movies of Kurosawa in my youth, I was entranced by Machiko Kyo’s eyes in Rashomon. So exotic yet full of that unique human beauty, I thought. Even now I don’t think I’ve ever heard her voice without the dubbing, but those eyes said far more than words ever could. The Asian mystique caught in the cinematic mystique. Can you blame me for just walking up and taking her off her chair.
“Wow!” She squealed in not-undelighted surprised, “What are you doing, sir?” Her Spanish was impeccable.
“I don’t know how to dance!”
Her feet said otherwise. Her accent had the flatness and dragged Rs of Mexico City. Who knew the day I would love to hear that accent could have ever come!? I could see my daughter gently shaking her head as she and the other guests watched the spectacle before them. No mind. It was their day and we had all cried all the happy tears we could muster away into glasses of wine and pitchers of beer. Now, it was time to celebrate all those who came here to honor them.
Well, okay, and a petite young lady with inkwell eyes framed by some stylish glasses is something to honor too.
As the newlywed bride readies the camera after recovering from her disbelief, I just look into the young bachelorette before me. Yes, I’ve been married, divorced, re-married and now managed to get this far in life.
Doesn’t mean you have to forget what it was like before all that.
The station was like an imposing castle of concrete, steel, and construction signs. Ever shifting over the past 100 years into spider-web of train tracks and serpentine cars slithering up and down the tracks. It paid little heed to the inhabitants of it.
“All workers report for your daily ration. You have done well, gentlemen.”
Gentlemen, despite the fact that most of the workers nowadays were female. Then again, it was just one of those things were the words employed carried more weight than the implications behind those words. At any rate, she wasn’t a worker so what was the point of worrying about it all? She liked to wander through the columns instead of the main walkway. It was never crowded at this hour, but it was nice think that she was walking down a palace or some forest.
The space between reminded her of a time that she could not possibly remember, but knew to be true.
This picture of Kazuki Yamamoto was taken on December 24, 2008. He was 6 years old.
Half a world away, the Lord’s Resistance Army was busy with the Christmas Day Massacre against the Democratic People’s Republic of Congo.
That same day, Riyo Mori, who had won Miss Universe a year earlier, was preparing to celebrate her 22nd birthday while still pondering what to do for her future.
A day earlier, Chicago had recorded its 500th murder.
On March 2nd, 2010, he would remember the day that he hammed it up for this photo as he started to get into reading abridged versions of Shakespeare plays in his elementary school library. It was at this moment at the age of 7 that he aspired to be an actor in a TV drama sometime.
That same day, the photographer was with his girlfriend having forgotten about ever having taken this photo, where it lay in his hard drive sleeping amongst a thousand other similar files but those were of girls on the street. The kid here was just a crapshoot. Something to pass the time going up an escalator. Now he was lounging on some beach in Mexico with a Corona in his hand.
On September 11th, 2011, Kazuki scored his first role on his 9th birthday. It was a spot for some English branch where he had to wear a pretty elegant suit while speaking cheesy pick-up lines to a pretty blonde girl on the schoolground. He would then wink at the camera as the brand name came up. Of course, at his young age the humor didn’t quite register with him.
The same day, there was a scandal as China had increased defenses around the border of North Korea. They felt the tension there getting higher after Kim Jong-un had declared the DPRK to be preparing for a strike on Seoul. The tensions died down soon afterwards, with China quietly leaving the troops on the border of the Yalu river.
Throughout the reminder of 2012, the commercial proved a smash hit nationwide and created a wave of merchandise that the school profited handsomely from until September of that year, wherein the company announced the end of the “Nanpa-no-ko” CM campaign. He was already starting to look older as puberty started to kick in early and a grown-up pick-up artist isn’t as cute as a little one. The final commercial concluded with him settling down with a porcelain-perfect Polish girl and riding off into the sunset on his mami-chari. The whole saga would be fondly remembered by many, but, forever typecast, Kazuki’s career as an actor was over.
On January 2013, his family moved away from their Kanagawa town to a small apartment in the heart of Shinjuku. Partially it was to be closer to Kazuki’s father’s workplace and partly to allow the “nanpa-no-ko” to disappear. The classrooms where he attended were huge and fortunately the character was far more famous than the actor. “Nanpa-no-ko” was a darling. Kazuki Yamamoto, not so much.
In March of the same year, the Democratic’s People’s Republic of Korea suddenly collapsed. The Chinese soldiers at the border kept the literally thousands of starving peasants from crossing. It’s controversial decision to fire on those who resisted the soldiers lead to the talking heads firing off vitriolic comments and strongly worded statements, but the Chinese behemoth was attached the economic lifeblood of the world and few could find a reason to let go.
November 1st, 2018. His days of stardom far behind him (although his parents loved to bring them up again and again), Kazuki breaks up with his first girlfriend Michiko. She was a 15 year old Junior High student who he kept in touch with as he entered his first year of High School. They dated only for a few months but she had completely immersed herself in him. He never saw her again.
February 2019. China’s builds numerous offices and factories in what used to be the DPRK, now merged into The United Republic of Korea. The local Koreans regard these set-ups with suspicion while the government of the URK in Seoul openly expresses gratitude for the much needed financial support.
April 1st, 2019. Kazuki goes to Shinjuku Gyoen to take pictures of the sakura. He meets a pretty blonde girl and they start to talk. Thanks to the free conversation classes given to him, he is quite confident in English. He is surprised to learn that the girl was Simona, the very same one from the commercials 8 years ago. They go out to Shibuya that night and wind up spending it in Dogen-zaka. They exchange phone numbers.
April 3rd, 2019. She never replies. He gives up trying to contact her.
March 22nd, 2021. Kazuki graduates high school and has been accepted into Waseda University. He majors in Political Science.
April 25th, 2021. Kazuki applies to go abroad next year. He elects to go to Korea, fascinated by the situation there. He figures that his mastery of Hangul will help him there.
April 26th, 2021. Violence erupts in the URK against the Chinese factories following a plant that exploded in Pyongyang neighborhood, injuring 14 people and killing three others. By the end of the night, hundreds of innocent Chinese workers have been either murdered or maimed, ethnicity checked by shibboleth.
May 1st, 2021. Kazuki and his girlfriend Elena are killed along with hundreds of others in a Tokyo metro bombing caused by a pro-DPRK radical group. The perpetrators are themselves killed by the blast.
This SnapStory1000 features some decidedly coarse language. If such stuff offends you, I would advise the reader not to read this one. Also, this story happens to feature Gun Caliber, a character created by my friend Bueno. Gun Caliber is the property of Garage Productions and I’m sure he will take no offense to my use of his character for a silly little juant.
The girl walked on like she didn’t understand. In a sense, she didn’t, but this wasn’t the time to ask questions about why strange men in beat-up armor and holding a gun in each hand were standing by a beach. These things don’t happen and when they do it’s best to not think too hard about it. She’d seen enough of those fools in Tokyo and she didn’t need it invading her town. Amusing enough at a distance but kind of scary up-close.
“Hey. Where you walking?”
Gun Caliber, evil’s Dionysian foe, had just wrapped up his latest round of training, which included a strenuous routine of kicking water bottles, drinking cans and bottles of beer and shooting said bottles and cans. Not necessarily in the order. In any case, the best way to cap off a good workout is a good woman. This one would suffice, given the choice between this fine lass or the fuckin’ eldery men and women waddling down his fuckin’ pavement and the fuckin’ kids who won’t stop gawking at him when he’s trying to fuckin’ concentrate on getting his shit right.
“Hey. What’s your name?”
The pretext of ignorance was gone. Now, the crazy man in the weird suit had a target to his cries and, honestly, she wished that it was with his guns and not his words.
It wasn’t the first time she been called out. There was also that one AV scout in Harajuku that one time. Why her though? She wasn’t exactly the type you’d put in a magazine, let alone in the nude. Maybe that guy was just desperate to get anyone so his bosses wouldn’t get pissed off. She’d just walked away that time.
However, that suit did have just a bit of allure.
“Uhh..who are you?”
He started to approach the girl. He always used the same line. Hit or miss, doesn’t matter. If the bitches liked it then great. If they ran away, they could just fuck off and suck his hairy nutsack. Not necessarily in that order.
“Gun Caliber. You heard of me?”
“I’m sorry. I can’t say I watch sentai…”
“FUCKING HELL, does this armor look like spandex to you!? Those little bitches ain’t got nothing on me.”
If it had been a man he was talking to, he would’ve added the line “Except those pink ranger bitches. Yeah, they got it all on me, or should I say, I get it all on them?”
Even without that extra line, she looked in dumbstruck disbelief at him.
“Anyways…what’s your name?”
She didn’t see the harm. “Uhh…Akiko.”
“Akiko? Nice name. What’re you doing now?”
“Just…seeing the ocean.”
“Can you take it off?”
“Your mask. You take yours off and I’ll take off mine.”
The ocean rolled in and out as Akiko pondered what to do. It was almost as if under some spell. How much weirder could this possibly get? Figuring she might as well twist the blade, she removed her surgical mask. Her face felt a sudden refreshing chill from the breeze running over her plain features. She hadn’t bothered to put make-up on that day. It was supposed to be for herself.
He took his off. Underneath was a balding Asian man with a pair of oversized spectacles. He believed he was half-Japanese – after all, why would he be here all this time and speak fluent Osaka-ben? That was a story for another time though.
“You’re pretty cute, Akiko.”
“Umm… I think I’ll be leaving now. I’m sorry. Please..uhh… take care okay?”
Without saying an extra word, she put her mask back on and walked away as fast as she could without breaking into a run. This was just supposed a relaxed day of contemplation and sight-seeing just before entering her first day at university. Not an encounter with people thinking Halloween is in December.
Gun Caliber put his mask back on and drew out his guns. Workout wasn’t quite finished.
She could just suck his hairy nutsack and fuck off.
Real Angels don’t have wings. That’s what my friends tell me.
Instead, they say that Angels look just like you and me. Just like us. How crazy is that? It’s interesting though. How fun if the messengers of God were actually all among us? They say when you see an Angel, they disappear right after.
I need an Angel now. Came this shrine to pray for one but maybe that’s just hopeless. Such nonsense really. That may be so, but I thought that asking for one is better than just giving up altogether. Besides, the snowfall hides so many things. I remember that one time I got lost from my mother when I was a little girl because I couldn’t see a meter past my eyes in the snow. Of course, it turned out that she was on the other side of street behind me and I had gone too far ahead. Maybe I was ahead of the Angels? It’s still clear enough though.
I took my fortune and I read it. It was very lucky but yet underneath the Machibito – The Awaited One – it said that he would be coming only after a long while. Perhaps not today then…right?
Tucking the fortune in my wallet, I prepared to leave.
There was a young man who was looking at the bad fortunes tied to the tree. That tree would supposedly absorb the bad luck that got tied to its branches. For there being so many, it’s an awful lot for one to carry. He apparently had just added his to the lot. His gaze was affixed to it.
I tapped him on the shoulder. I’m not sure why. Just felt it was the thing to do. He was startled but didn’t turn around. That didn’t really bother me. After all, who knows what was going through his mind?
I told him “It’s okay. Be strong.”
I walked away before he could answer. Even moments later, I couldn’t tell what he looks like. Just walk away.
The snow fluttered down around me as I left the shrine..
Yeah, I took a vacation not even three days in. Sorry, but it’s a serious pain to write fiction when all you got is an iPhone and you’re vacationing in Hokkaido.
Kazuki looked into Michiko’s eyes. Rather, what would’ve been her eyes had they not been covered by tear-soaked hair.
No response except for the continuous sobbing. Michiko thought, at the age of 15, that this would be forever. She had already picked what dress to wear, what day the wedding would be on and their children’s names. So did Kazuki. It felt so grown-up when he first invited her over when his parents were both out on business. As he saw the tears hit the floor of the station, he remembered how his hands ran down those same cheeks with the same gentle ferocity.
He couldn’t pin-point when it he stopped feeling that way. The way Kimiko would smile at him perhaps? Maybe the thrill after the first kiss had worn off? Perhaps not…the first touch more than made up for that.
“I don’t want you to leave..”
It was a shock to the both of them. First love, first loss. He could just walk away and leave it all behind, but then what? Leave a girl crying? That would make him no better than all his friends who could only look on as their dads had walked away for the last time. No, he had to be more of a man than that. The tears hurt him as much as they hurt her, much as he wouldn’t admit it. But, damn, Akari had those curves and that little Indian girl…Priya? Yeah, that little firecracker had shown some personality in the years she’d been here.
Hard to think about that now though. For the time, there was only the hollow echo of station chimes, conversations and countless footsteps disguising Michiko’s choked sobs.
Mitsuko came with her Louis Vuitton bag into their makeshift home. She gave Alex a kiss on the cheek, as young girls with over-grown and under-exercised libido are sometimes wont to. Alex wasn’t her real name but it was what she asked everyone in the neighborhood to do and nobody could find a good reason to say otherwise.
The search for new fashions can lead to a treacherous road. Sure, it was fun to lead the salarymen on in their desperate, ever-futile pursuit of someone who would give them back the youth they lost to years of cram school and drudgery at whatever outworn spinny chair they sat in at work, but once that gets old, there are choices to be made. Choices between a roof over your head or cutting-edge, name-brand fashion.
Yet, as far as cardboard boxes go, it could have been worse. A worn picture of Arashi was primly taped to the wall and they had enough vinyl umbrellas to keep their make-up – not to mention their 20,000 yen Chanel dresses – dry in the guerilla rains that came in during the spring months. Life wasn’t easy, but at least they could look fabulous.
Mitsuko and Alex held hands as the old guy passed them by. To say why they held hands would be difficult to pinpoint. Largely it was just habit. They had only met a few weeks ago but, with all the guys who would approach them being either lame or AV scouts (you accept one time for some quick cash and suddenly they all think you’ll go with anybody!), it was almost only to be expected that they would be easier say “I’m a lesbian, can’t you see?” and end the conversation quickly.
In any case, the old guy walked by every day. He never said a word but always leered into their tiny abode. After he left, it was the same time-killing conversation between the two:
“God, what a weirdo.”
“I know, why doesn’t he just say something already and get it over with? So annoying…”
“We should totally tell him something next time? Like ‘Hey! 35,000 for both of us all night, wanna go?!”"
“Oh seriously? Then he’d be like ‘Really?’”
“Yeah yeah! Then he just like takes out his wallet and we just brush him off. “Ha! You thought we were being serious!? Get real!”
So the days went. The old guy would pass by; they would alternately cower before him and mock behind his back; and they did their best to get along in the colony of those who have become obedient to the forces of the Cosmo.
Obsession can be a bitch. Sometimes it makes you into one. Sometimes both.