Category Archives: At Home

Photographing Japan


“Everybody’s face tells you about the society they live in, and what they’re feeling inside. Faces are maps.” ~ Sue Ford.

People ask why
I photographs strangers:
train people,
school kids
and people on the street.

I don’t think of them as strangers.
These faces are Japan.

The Japanese live by a code of conduct
held in place by a spiders web of obligations.

Whether saying hello or good-bye,
most greetings are a version of I’m sorry.

When moving into a new home
you buys gifts for your new neighbours.
The gift itself is unimportant.
Only the message matters:
“Hello. We’ll do our best to be quiet,
to respect you. To live harmoniously beside you.”

When asking someone to a gathering you realize
that even though they’ve said yes, they actually mean no,
you must begin the gentle cutting
of the invitation thread.

Regardless of how crazy or drunk another person is,
you do not comment or call attention to this behaviour.
You act as though this violation of the rules
is not happening. You look the other way.

We foreigners learn to observe these rules
but it’s not natural, not written in our DNA.
We lack centuries of this story shaping us.

When living here is hard work, my face shows it.

With the Japanese,
mostly their faces
are calm
like water
but sometimes the sorrow
or joy
gets through.
Ripples appear.

When I photograph them,
I photograph Japan.

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.

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

with the big smile
always keeps his promises.

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


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

















The Fresh Prince of 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.

{if you’re watching}
is everywhere.

Japanese word for bicycle


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

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

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.

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

Living room



dee view{Photograph by Damien Pitter}

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
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
to creating a space more than temporary
a home worth
visiting like a gallery.

Our home now is present
with art
with colour and texture
and the warmth of imagination.
Each is a mood
a story a
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.


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.

he points at the dock.
“join me.”

i wonder
at the wonder of him
sometimes i wonder
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

already an old wise man
at 20.
now growing backwards.
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.