Love, Yokohama: Bobby Yoshinami-Hitachi

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.

Photographed on Friday 15 August 2014
at Yamate Koen (Yamate Park)

Bobby Wide Big Trees

Bobby Gazebo

Bobby Camera

Bobby said it would take
just ten minutes
to walk from school
to Yamate Koen.
It took twenty.
It was worth it.

Yamate Koen is a park
now best known for tennis courts.
It was built in 1870
by foreigners for foreigners
at a time when they {we} were
entirely welcome.

For 80 years
the foreigners gathered for
picnics, parties, and fund raisers.
Dog shows, flower shows, and dancing.
For 80 years
there were only foreigners.
In 1950, Yamate Koen
opened its gates to everyone,
became Japan’s first public park.

As we walk into the park,
we pass under
immense Himalayan cedars.
It feels suddenly cooler.
Bobby points out
which trees
with cherry blossoms
in the spring.

A path leads
to the wooden clubhouse
and tennis courts.
Bobby would have liked
to have lived
in the early days
of this park.
He’s seen photos
in the Station at Motomachi-Chukagai
and is fascinated
by what has changed
and what has not.

The path curves
and we come upon
a small white gazebo.
We time travel
140 years
into the past.

Bobby has never noticed
the breeze here

Later, he tells me
there’s another reason
this is his favourite spot.
As a student in Japanese kindergarten
he used to visit the park
every week or two.
He would play tag
and climb trees
with all his friends.
Since moving to our international school
he lost contact with the park.
Years passed.
He rediscovered the park
while walking his dog
two years ago.
It felt much smaller.
Coming back to the park
as an older self
he’s learned to appreciate
not only its beauty
but also its history.

As we left the park
Bobby said
he will miss the cicadas.

Bobby Bio Pic

When calm minds and warm hearts are required, we call Bobby. He’s an old soul but still capable of wonderful mischief. My favourite thing I ever heard him say was, “There’s a time and a place.” Even when he disagrees with you, he does so with respect. Bobby just graduated from high school and is taking a gap year… so he’s in between things but he’s chill. Some day he will be an amazing teacher. {Or chef.}

You can see more photographs of Bobby and Yamate Koen on my Instagram feed.

Leave a Reply