The Repatriation of Godzilla


I leave Saturday for Tokyo. I spent the morning watching Anthony Bourdain travel through Japan in preparation of the journey, but I am, quite frankly, a little overwhelmed by the alien atmosphere I am heading towards.  Maybe it is because Tokyo has always been the one place I have wanted to go, but never was able to find the means to. It is the place of my childhood dreams: ninja, AstroBoy, samurai, geisha, Blade Runner, sticker collections and the future. It is also the place of my modern dreams: Zen, photography, manga, harajuku station, sushi, geisha and Haruki Murakami. Somehow this is a journey to meet my unconsciousness.


I decided this morning that I am not dragging all of the gear with me that I had planned. It seems that if I am truly to appreciate the ideas of Zen, then I must focus on single things with simplicity. Yes, I will undoubtedly become frustrated by missing shots due to the nature of film, but my inner voice is telling me to let it go, that I will miss the best shots while fumbling with cameras, lenses and bags. I am reverting to my original plan of using just medium format film in my Mamiya 645 afd camera. I am just going to shoot colour film to contrast against the bw film I shot in Paris, and I will capture what matters most in my journey.

So what are my plans for the trip? One personal project will be the silly Repatriation of Godzilla project; I plan on photographing Godzilla at specific points as he returns home from a long journey. Thanks to V.’s sharp eye, we were able to procure a barely posable, plastic figure for me to use as I move from city to city. Yes, it is kind of childish and has been done before, but I want to do it for me. I want to take a bunch of tourist photos of this icon and see what I come up with. If there is an icon that personifies our fears of the foreign and Japan kitsch, then it must be Godzilla. If nothing else, these images will make me laugh. It is about time that I start making some art with the camera, and the only way to do that is to lurch toward the odd humour I hold dear.

Otherwise, I want to see Tokyo. I know that I will be lost for the entire time, that I will not be able to speak to anyone until I get to Osaka, and that my budget is slightly limited. I would like to get to Harajuku Station, to Tsujiki Fish Market and some Zen Gardens. If I am lucky enough to photography any geisha, then that would be shocking, but I can always hold out hope that the guide will know a way through a little green door.

Godzilla II

Sushi would be great, but I am easy on food for once. I gravitate towards the insane food experiences when I travel, so I know that I will find some killer taste experiences along the way. I think that if I set my heart too high for something in particular, then I may be disappointed. It would be great to pick up a Japanese cooking knife, some woodcut art, a bento box or two, and something strange to remember the place by. I am not much of a shopper, so I try to just pick up simple things that hold their value long after. My karoake skills are legendary and fatal, so it is best to avoid this if I can or I might become a television celebrity there. I am going to read Murakami’s Sheep Chase and After Dark and Natsuo Kirino’s Grotesque. My theme song…only Tom Waits could serve as my soundtrack:

I got the style but not the grace
I got the clothes but not the face
I got the bread but not the butter
I got the winda but not the shutter
But Im big in japan Im big in japan but heh Im big in japan

I got the style but not the grace

I got the clothes but not the face

I got the bread but not the butter

I got the winda but not the shutter

But I’m big in Japan Im big in japan , but heh I’m big in Japan


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