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My Neighborhood

I have a love hate relationship with Yokohama. For one, there isn’t much Soul here. You know, the old Japan feeling where neighbor greets neighbor….Here in Yokohama you’ll be lucky to get a greeting in the morning. People here tend to be a little cold and indifferent, unlike the other prefectures I’ve been to where most people are very warm, tolerant and hospitable. Yokohama has no identity and not very many Japanese people here have a sense of prefectural pride, not even Kanagawa pride for that matter.

I also love Yokohama, too. I love its close proximity to other cities. Its vast mass transit network. It’s overall safety and convenience. The city also has a fairly diverse foreign population. The government also supports a large array of programs for the foreign community.

So, in this blog post I decided to take some time out from my travels and appreciate my OWN city, where I live. Even with this love hate relationship I have with it. Why I like this city is exactly the reason why I don’t like it. Here in Yokohama nobody cares about what I’m doing, as long as I’m obeying the law or not infringing on someone else’s rights, most people could care less about what I’m doing, so it seems.

Nobody strikes up an off the wall conversation with me, I like this. However, I tend to try to strike up a conversation with a random Jukujo from time to time. I like to speak to a certain group of people only, but don’t like being talked to, so while though I love the relative non-existence I have in the general public’s eye, I also love to strike up a conversation with random persons. Love to speak, hate being spoken to, in other words.

Today, on my way to the local shrine in my area, I was pulled over by the police. The officer was wondering why I was walking around snapping up photos at this time of day – early afternoon. Especially when most men are at work this time of day and not walking around going “gaga-gogo” at old houses. I had explained that this was a hobby of mine and that I was on my way to the shrine up the street to shoot some autumn foliage. The officer’s demeanor was very pleasant. He didn’t come off brash and insensitive. He asked for some I.D., so I gave him my driver’s license. I never surrender my gaijin card, not even when requested. My license sufficed.

At any rate, I guess he had received a tip from some anonymous caller about a foreigner walking down the street with a big camera who was snapping up photos of people and property. He responded by stopping me and asking me to see my pics. I showed him and he told me to be careful about taking pictures of people. I complied and he kindly bid me farewell. I felt a little awkward about what had transpired. I mean, I have walked those same streets late at night in the same neighborhood almost a dozen times and have never been stopped, not even once. Dozens of patrol cars have passed by me on their way to somewhere and have never taken notice of me, until today, at lunch time. Yokohama can be one of the most backwards cities in all of Japan. The Kanagawa Police will pull people over and cite them for some of the most trivial and inane things. Like they don’t have bigger fish to fry then to stop some guy who’s walking around in the middle of the afternoon with a camera. Before he left I had asked him for his picture! He kindly declined my request. I continued my walk.

I have a thing for old houses.

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It’s amazing how long these houses have lasted over the years. And people can live in them and maintain them without caring much about how they look on the outside. Goes to show you can make anywhere your home, even when exterior beauty has very little importance to you.

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It’s nice having a 24 hrs. Yoshinoya and a convenience store less than a 50 second walk from my front door! And then there’s the Negishi River and the boats that line it.

Sometimes I wonder how spoiled I really am. I can pay for anything at the local convenience store(…e.g. all utilities, tickets, parcels, and much much more), and all of these services are available 24-7, even on national holidays.

If I get the munchies at 2a.m. I can run over to Yoshinoya and grab a nice steaming hot beef bowl and enjoy it in a very nice, clean and quiet atmosphere. In the States you have to worry about your safety when eating at establishments like this late at night. Here in Japan there is never any public disturbances, not even any loiterers around to cast suspicions on. Just come, eat, and leave.

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The first picture is the first floor and the second picture is their veranda with some kind of rigging put in place to support a make-shift satellite dish. I love how the old struggles to infuse itself with the new. This set up looks horribly out of place and totally unnatural and imposing on the house.

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This picture wasn’t imposing at all. In fact, it was nice to see mother and daughter on their way home from shopping. I continued my walk the opposite direction.

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And then, I saw this thing. They just don’t make them any smaller than this motor bike. I would love to own one of these just for the sake of having one. I think it’s like a 50cc or less. Way too small for me. The price tag for a bike this size is about 200,000 yen, or about $2,500.00 U.S.

Finally arriving at my destination, the local shrine.

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Autumn is steadily catching hold here in Yokohama. It should be another week and all of these leaves will be fully yellowed.

I often enjoy the timeless beauty of a shrine. No matter when you go it’s always very beautiful.

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The writing on the stone says “ May Peace Prevail.”

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It was nice seeing a local make his way down here.

Japanese people who still retain their traditional beliefs in their own gods tend to be more at peace and natural with themselves and with others, whereas those that shun their own gods in turn for Western gods tend to be Crazy and out of their wits.

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The Koma Ainu, or shrine dogs( half lion half dog) serve to protect the shrine from evil spirits. You can find them in varying sizes and shapes all over Japan.

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I can’t quite make the face out on this one. Don’t know whether it’s faceless by design or severe weathering.

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Can’t believe I ate one of these. In France there’s a delicacy called squab, or young unfledged pigeon. I rather enjoyed it. Yet, to stand over this one and take its picture makes me appreciate it all the more.

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This is a black and white of the high relief at the top of the shrine, which has a lot of history in itself; family crest and design style.

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My favorite kind of eye candy in the black.

All-In-all, except for the pull over by the police, which wasn’t really anything, I had a nice afternoon stroll through my neighborhood.

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