Love, Yokohama: Matthew Sato

Love, Yokohama is my photographic love letter to the city we have called home for the past three years. The concept is a simple one. Each week I’ll ask a student, colleague or friend to meet me at their favourite place in Yokohama… and I’ll take their photograph. These visual love letters will be posted each Friday.

MATTHEW SATO
Photographed on Thursday, 18 September 2014
at Ōsanbashi Pier, Yokohama

matthew Standing Landmark

Matthew Medium Smile

Why Matthew chose Ōsanbashi Pier:
I chose Osanbashi, because it feels to me as a home. It’s a place were I can release my stress. The view is really enjoyable and beautiful.

Matthew Close up Ship

Matthew
percussion-drummer-boy
with the big smile
always keeps his promises.

Film-maker
sound-maker
off to Berklee College of Music,
the whole world
now his sound stage.

You can see more photographs of Matthew on my Instagram feed.

Rain-walking home

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There are words that go with this walk,
words about the reflection on the playground,
the fierce hollers of basketball boys,
the lush greenness of the cemetery,
the girls in white socks and navy plaid skirts,
yellow leaves whose falling signals autumn,
a small girl in pink who clings to her mother,
the women with their shopping on Motomachi Street.

The words from this walk
beat inside me,
echoes of six hundred
walks
home.

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Paris. {Always a good idea.}

red umbrella

The first time I visited Paris
we lived in Mexico.
From Mexico to Paris
is not just a flight
it’s a different freaking star system.
They give you a new brain,
a chic wardrobe
and as much cafe au lait
as you’d like
but only for breakfast.

I’d been reading for months,
learning the rules:
1. Always say “Bonjour Madame or Monsieur” when entering a shop.
2. Do not pick up items in stores. {This includes everything from sweaters to oranges.}
3. Move quickly and in the correct direction in the Metro.
4. Be aware of scams and thieves.
5. Dress nicely for the butcher. {That means everyone.}

You see, I’d never been to Europe.
I wanted to be
an expert.
Later, rule number four would prove useful
in Barcelona. And in Japan,
all these rules have proved helpful
except number four
which is simply
not relevant.

In the onyx light of early morning
our taxi sped from Charles de Gaulle
to the 7th Arrondissement
{a word that has taken me a decade to master}.
As the squat houses of the suburbs clicked over
we travelled back in time. I awoke
outside our hotel, surrounded by six-storey Haussmann.
I cried.
DP said, “It’s okay. You’re just tired.”
But it wasn’t that.
It was the beauty.

From the window of our room,
the street told a story
like a movie.
A woman in a red peacoat
and black rubber boots
carried a brown paper bag
filled with long loaves of bread.

A green wooden box of red geraniums
hung below our window.

As we descended the stairs
into the metro at Ecole Militaire,
I reached for DPs hand.
People hurried in both directions
and the tile-covered walls pulsed
like a heart.
Light yellow tiles
like lemonade
or butter on toast.

At a cafe, a small girl with excellent posture
and a green velvet jacket sat with her mother
and two aunts frosted in silk scarves
and impeccable ponytails.
They let her pour the hot chocolate
into their white porcelain cups.

The Mona Lisa was not smaller than I imagined.
{I’d done my research.}
I was not fully prepared for her smile,
the pull of it, how I’d seek her out
again
in that too-warm room
where the guards kept
an eye
on our attachment.

Under the lights of the Eiffel Tower
we ate chocolate crepes
and took photos
of the carousel blur,
cotton candy pink horses
and their small riders.

The airport shuttle showed up
on time
sleek + white + alien.
We drove around the city
plucking other travellers
out of their dreams
and vacations.
We crossed a bridge.
It was raining.
I cried.

Paris, I think,
is a woman’s city.

The Fresh Prince of Motomachi

motomachi

This street
outside Motomachi Station
in Yokohama,
this is one of my favourite spots on earth.
{Sometimes I exaggerate
but this time I’m not.}

I did not take photos
of the moments that follow
{Sometimes I just want
to live inside a moment
free of iPhones and Instagram}
so you’ll have to imagine
that you were here
with me.

There’s this young guy
in a sleek black suit,
tapered trousers
and a super-cool hair cut.
J-pop style.

He’s riding a bike
and there’s a white plastic kid’s seat
on the back.

As he passes,
stylish black blur,
I wonder if
he feels less cool
now that the kid’s arrived
like he’s lost
his Fresh Prince mojo.

Then I imagine
his kid
who is probably adorable
{because Japanese kids
are the most gorgeous kids
in the world}
and I assume his kid is well-loved.

Then I’m thinking
about how happy
this guy must be
to be that kid’s father
and how he became an adult
the day that kid was born

and how
when we moved to Japan,
a few months after the triple disasters,
people were having pets,
fur babies,
not children
and pushing them in prams.

We wondered
where the children were.
A society without babies
is the stuff of science fiction.
The end of the world
as we know it.

And then a small white truck
scoots by,
turns right at the corner
and climbs the hill
carrying a cyprus tree
and a thousand white orchids.
A wedding
in the back
of a pick-up truck.

Joy
{if you’re watching}
is everywhere.

Japanese word for bicycle

bike

bicycleOn this day
I was headed
to Kato Gallery
in Hiro-o
where Chihiro-san
would advise me
on the framing
of a new painting.

She was the first Japanese person
who reached outside herself
past the pin-point of courtesy
to welcome us
warmly.

On my way
to the gallery,
I passed this young woman
elegant in black
sleeveless dress
and metallic sandals.
A brown paper bag
hung from her handlebars.
She saw me
and smiled.

A second warm welcome.

Kato Gallery is now gone
but our friendship
with Chihiro-san
remains.

The Japanese word for bicycle is jitensha.
It also means runner-up.
{I wonder if that is sometimes confusing.}

Love, Yokohama: Damien Pitter

Love, Yokohama is my photographic love letter to the city we have called home for the past three years. The concept is a simple one. Each week I’ll ask a student, colleague or friend to meet me at their favourite place in Yokohama… and I’ll take their photograph. These visual love letters will be posted each Friday.

DAMIEN PITTER
Photographed on Friday, 12 September 2014
at his apartment in Yokohama

Living room

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dee view{Photograph by Damien Pitter}

Home
by Damien Pitter

It took me some time
to know the importance of
a real home overseas.
I moved to my first job
in three suitcases
and
from it in two.
Dorm living in a nicer apartment.
Living I thought of
as just-for-now.

I was never very attached to things.

It was Mexico’s folk art
milagros and calavera catrinas
that enchanted me to keeping
collecting
to creating a space more than temporary
a home worth
visiting like a gallery.

Our home now is present
with art
rugs
ceramics
with colour and texture
and the warmth of imagination.
Each is a mood
a story a
longing
question
song.
Our home is filled with
the places we have been, the
selves we were then
and then.

It is no longer a life that fits in two suitcases.

And yet a thing is still just a thing.

I don’t need these things
but I like them.
They are anchors that make stillness worthwhile,
that carve out small borders
a land of our own
and make it easier
to stay a while longer.

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Damien Pitter

lambs-wool hair,
brown corduroys
and tevas.

jamaican jerk chicken
meets poutine and guy lafleur
in ottawa
then owen sound.

georgian bay,
the blue,
the big of it,
that’s still his water.

a casual guy
not that interested
in persuading others.

imagine him
in a yellow raincoat
on a wooden deck
on a lake somewhere in ontario
watching stars.
star-filled.

he points at the dock.
“join me.”

i wonder
at the wonder of him
and
sometimes i wonder
“why?”
when people don’t get
the wicked smartness of him
+ all he can do.
that’s a weakness in them.
a sad failure
of observation.

{everyone should feel
this way
about their partner.}

his photographs
amble by
blurry, punch-drunk
on the world.

his writing
revels in gorgeous specificity.
pointillism with words.
a garden party of secrets whispered by a woman with a red parasol.

he is
calm.
kind.
divergent.

already an old wise man
at 20.
now growing backwards.
perhaps
at 80
he’ll ride a motorcycle
punctuate his sentences
with swear words
and lead a revolution.

it’s possible.

 

You can see more photographs of Damien and his home on my Instagram feed here.

Check out Damien’s photography and writing at The Puddlewonder Press.