Life Bookmarks in Japan

I recently read about the idea of a life bookmark… a moment so exquisite that you bookmark it in your mind so that you can can come back to it later.

In Japan, there are more of these moments than in any other place I have lived.

DP took this photograph on a train platform about a month ago. If I close my eyes, I can still see this couple standing directly across from us. The woman in pink looked like a fragile, exotic flower. Click.

On the afternoon before Typhoon Roke hit Yokohama, I saw a mother and her five-year-old daughter on a bicycle. It had begun to rain and the girl was holding a small, frilly pink umbrella over her mother’s head as her mom pedaled them madly along the sidewalk. The little girl’s face was set with determination. Click.

On the walk home from school a few days ago, I passed two memorable children. Just before the cemetery I encountered a girl in a navy blue uniform and a huge canary-yellow sun hat; she was back lit with late afternoon sunlight and looked like a tiny angel-in-training. She looked right at me and smiled which is pretty unusual for a Japanese child. The second encounter was with a boy who didn’t see me at all; he was wearing a too-tight khaki uniform that bore a striking resemblance to lederhosen and, on his head, he wore a large, navy blue captain’s hat. His head was bent over a book as he walked and, had I not stepped out of his way, he would have walked right into me. That particular ample-bosom-encounter would have been, I daresay, the most shocking and embarrassing in all his eight years. Click. Click.

This blue-sky moment was one of my first life bookmarks in Japan. I took this photograph on the 69th floor of the Landmark Tower in Yokohama. As the young man and woman stood, side by side, taking in the view of Yokohama and Tokyo, the backs of their hands touched for one lovely moment. Click.

A friend from our school in Mexico once said there was no such thing as a bad photograph in Japan; perhaps this is what she meant.

Have you had any of these gorgeous moments lately… when time stood still and you thought, “This moment is so beautiful. I will never forget this.”  Please share.


  1. Actually the first bookmark of my life may well have taken place in Japan. The first morning in Osaka, the first time I was there. I was looking out the window of a tower apartment at the tile shingles of buildings far below, water vapor steaming as the sun escaped the horizon’s clutches.

    Not a fantastic picture, and nothing which could ever be truly shared. I remember and I revisit this moment because it was when the shell of my previous understanding of life shattered and I shook myself free of its fragments.

    Which included my not caring about school anymore, and I’m sure that makes your skin crawl.

  2. @blaark
    Thanks for sharing such a vivid life bookmark from Japan.
    If you believe that your decision not to care about school anymore would make my skin crawl, I think we must not know each other in real life.

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