I have written before of my photographic angel who provides me with unforeseen opportunities and leads me to unexpected discoveries. She was working overtime on a particular day in 1993 while I was on a work trip to Japan. I had a very full schedule during the week and, though my weekends were usually free for exploration, I had to use one of the days on this particular weekend for travel to another distant part of the country, so I had only one day in Tokyo. I was staying in a modest hotel in the Roppongi district and had just finished a very nice breakfast. I returned to my room and started to ponder what would be the best, most fun way to use this precious time. While I opened my mind to inspiration, it came. I hadn’t been to a shrine yet, and I decided to go to the largest one that was relatively convenient to my present position. After consulting my map and the friendly concierge, I settled on the Meiji Shrine. As I recall, I rode the subway for three or four stops and walked another half-mile or so.
As soon as I entered the grounds, I knew I was entering something wonderful. My “luck” was such that I this was the one day in the year set aside for honoring children. As it was explained to me, and as my admittedly somewhat unreliable memory recalls, parents dressed up their 5- and 9-year-old daughters and their 7-year-old sons and took them for special ceremonies at their favorite shrines. As a result, not only were there many dozens of adorable children, everywhere I looked, but also it seemed that every adult had at least one film camera and at least one video camera, and everyone seemed to be photographing their children, everyone else, and every one else’s children and so, in effect, I was invisible and had free rein to shoot at will. I had two SLRs, one for black-and-white work and the other for color. In the first I alternated between Tri-X (pushed to ISO 800) and T-Max 400; in the second I used first Fujichrome RDP 100 and then Scotchchrome 1000. During the course of the day I made several of what have become some of my favorite images in my entire inventory. Here is one of them, scanned from my original Fujichrome slide. I will present more in future posts.