This photo was taken in Shimbashi, Japan. It was taken right after taking a train ride from my Japanese school (Meitoku), to this certain part of Japan, where I later met up with some classmates for dinner. This day was a particularly sunny day in August, which wasn’t so usual since during this time of the year, it is their rainy season and most days are cloudy.
Being as I had just gotten out of school and off a train, I was extremely excited when I walked out of the train station and discovered such a lively world. Japanese advertising amazes me and it is just simply so different from the advertisement and buildings seen in cities like Chicago. Neon signs, big billboard signs, letters and sounds, and tall buildings are more typically seen in New York (even Las Vegas), but I feel like no other city in the United States really does this. It is in your face, type of advertisement that is very hard to get away from. The variety of colors and symbols, signs, and sounds are even that much intriguing when you can’t necessarily identify and understand them. When I say sounds, I do literally mean that many of the signs do make noises and even voices can be heard coming from some. All of this amazes me and intrigues and that is why I wanted to take this picture.
Later on when I returned to the U.S, I realized that this photograph had more to say than just what was to be seen. This photograph in a sense described the gender roles that I observed while in Japan. In the far right of this photo you can see a man, which I assumed to be a businessman. Judging from his briefcase, you can also notice his posture while walking (slouched), his black work pants, his white button up shirt, which if you look around, this is not very individualistic attire (not that there is anything at all wrong with that). But that is just the superficial side of it, when looking closer, he appears to be worn-down, and perhaps stressed. This is something I often observed when I crossed paths with a workingmen in Japan. Which made me feel that depicting a working classman as showing characteristics of being worn-down and stressed was perhaps not far off from the truth. This is simply just the image I began to have of what the face of a workingman/businessman seemed to look like.
On the other hand, while looking at the center of this photograph you can see a woman who has good upright posture, appears as a fairly elegant, well dressed person. Just by her posture you can assume that she is a confident and perhaps even going on a reach to assume that she is perhaps happy. She is carrying an umbrella, something that is often used by Japanese women to protect them from the sun (this is often done to maintain a certain skin color). This is the image of a woman that I often observed while walking around the city or taking the train.
The differences in social gender roles and gender observations that I came across, gave me a very distinct view of what it meant to be a Japanese man/woman living in the city near Tokyo. This is obviously perhaps an overgeneralization made by me, but I came across these images many times, and even my other friends who lived in Japan told me that this was also something they observed. So perhaps there is some reality to what I observed not only in this photo, but also in my everyday life in Japan.
The movement in this photo is also interesting because there doesn’t appear to be one specific direction that the people are headed to, most of the people closet to my camera seem to all be walking alone and with a certain destination in mind. While the people near the buildings seem to be grouped and some are even accompanied by someone. It is interesting how people can be walking surrounded by many and still be walking by themselves. All these observations made me believe that this is a “moment lived” photo.
p.s- I know that the angle of this photo is really not the best…
One of the things that most successful humans strive for, and many exercise, is the power of self-control. People have to have it within themselves to not be corrupt and do the right thing. When the majority of individuals in society decide to do this for the good of the overall community and not just for selfish desires, many great things can be achieved.
The magnified problems of self-control and greed can now often be observed in governments such as those in Mexico, Cuba, and Venezuela (to name a few.) Being president should not entitle becoming extremely wealthy and sharing that wealth within your family, the position in which presidents of these countries are put in are position of great power. Countries like Mexico, Cuba, and Venezuela have good resources to offer to their people; rather than multiply the wealth, it is distributed among a few. While the rest are often struck in terrible poverty and lack of opportunities to improve their living conditions.
Such government’s needs to be stricter, rules must be followed and condemned when neglected or abused. It is inhuman to deprive the people of the resources that exist within their own geographic regions. It is important to exercise self-control; one must know their own boundaries and have ethical concerns regarding their decisions because they do affect others. Decisions specially affect others when those decisions are made by a small group of powerful individuals.
Self-control contributes to helping individuals achieve goals, without self-control people then might pursuit instant gratification instead of waiting for gratification that can last way longer and be better in the long run. Delaying gratification is one of the most important concepts for humans. Taking the time and working hard for what you want instead of taking it away from others brings more satisfaction. Societies function better when people work for what they want instead of being given it. Think about a child, you teach the child that every time it asks for something, you will give it to them. What ends up happening with this child is that they will more likely not appreciate you or the objects it is given and will not feel successful because he/she does not work for what they get. This concept still applies to adults and people in power.
The combination of self-control and knowledge often results in great achievements. Presidents from countries where corruption can often be swept under the rug need to have greater rules and punishments for those in government, who take advantage of their power and don’t enforce self-control.
How do you respond to peoples comments? hahaha… I can’t seem to figure it out. Do you have to reblog?
In the summer of 2009 I found myself living in Chiba, a prefecture near Tokyo. This was my first trip I had made out of the country on my own. I have traveled a bit before, but never alone. It was a bit intimidating since the family I was staying with didn’t speak English and I often felt alone when at home. I had never experienced that before since everywhere else that I have lived, I have always been able to interact with friends or family. I had made many new friends at school, but they were more often too busy studying to really do much with. This is perhaps when the concept of subject really became apparent to me. My Japanese classmates were working very hard to achieve their incredibly difficult goals. In the process they had become these somewhat puppets to their societies (with all respect.) Somewhat of passengers, just riding along. Doing everything socially possible to be accepted into the highly competitive University of Tokyo. Not that some American Universities aren’t competitive, but it just seemed to me that my Japanese classmates had it a bit tougher.
So my only escape when at home was to watch a collection of Disney movies that my 21-year-old host sister had in her room. Not that I’m the biggest fan of Disney or television in general, but it was either that or stare at a wall. I remember watching The Lion King when I was little and even owning my own little stuffed Simba. But I had completely forgotten the story plot of the movie and what struck me the most to my meaning of self was the story of Timone, the Meerkat. He decides to seek another life far away from his usual environment with high hopes that there was much more for him to discover, but soon he realizes that it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. He thought he was in control of who he was and his environment enough to venture out, just the same way I was feeling at the time I decided to travel on my own to Japan. By watching his particular story, I realized that I could be a passenger and just go along with the days or I could make the best out of my situation. I knew that living in Japan was a very unique experience that I perhaps wouldn’t be able to do again in a very long time, if ever again. So I stopped focusing on the negative and started being in control of particularly my emotions, which weren’t helping me enjoy my experience and I ended up having the time of my life. Now Japan is by far my favorite country.
Besides the man sitting on the staircase, what draws a viewer’s attention the most about this photograph is the Washington Mutual Bank advertisement. The reason why it is a powerful image is because you see a man that looks homeless and depressed then an advertisement above about home loans. It symbolizes what America has become for many people. The power of banks to give out loans like it is candy on Halloween is a very dangerous thing. Particularly when peoples ids take over their egos and people begin to use loans without repercussions. Loans only accumulate more debt and put many people in situations of constant money struggles. Leaving some like the man on this photograph. This photograph is relatable to even college students. Perhaps we’re not faced with the issues of asking for home loans, but many college students do pay their tuition with bank loans. If in fact this man was dragged into poverty because of loans, psychoanalysts like Freud, might argue that people in the same situation as him have let their id get the best of them and stopped listening to their egos which are the rational aspect of personality. Allowing themselves to be selfish and blindly follow their guilty pleasures of spending and not realizing that when they ask for loans, they aren’t being given money without strings attached. It seems like there is a contradiction with this person’s id, superego, and ego and whenever there is such a conflict, anxiety and problems can arise in a person’s life. And in this photograph, it seems like the man has had enough issues and those issues have maybe taken him to this certain place and situation.
(photo courtesy of Jon Fjortoft@chicagoreader.com).