19 March 2013 ~ 10 Comments

Photo Essay #2: Loco ♥s Yokohama

Manhattan, and the other 3 boroughs of New York City, I could take or leave.

But I ♥ Brooklyn…

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I spent the better part of my life there, and learned a great deal about who I am in that amazing community.

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…and more importantly, I loved ME in Brooklyn!

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After thirty years of being a Brooklynite, I was finally learning where my true passion rested and was putting it to work…when this happened:

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And, Brooklyn, New York, the US, hell, most of the so-called free world was never the same.

In the chaos that followed, I misplaced my passion and couldn’t remember where I’d set it down.

My hometown had been posterized by (Insert Villain of choice here i.e. Bush, Osama, Hussein, whoever). I felt helpless, hopeless, demoralized, vulnerable…I was possibly even traumatized.

I needed a change of scenery for a spell, I self-prescribed.

And, Japan was just what an unlicensed quack (like me) would order…

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A country still, in many ways, reeling from and traumatized by its own 9/11 style attack, in the form of two nuclear bombs…ironically delivered by my country.

Nevertheless, I found myself amid distractions galore in this cultural theme park! All the diversions any man could ask for. The void my missing passion left was filled with the challenge of a new language, fascination with new customs, an infatuation with exotic women…and eventually even love!

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I thought I had found nirvana…

But, then I suffered a blow even more severe than 9/11 and lost my closest friend and lover.

I was reeling…center ring…almost asking for the next blow to be swift and deadly…

But the Creator wasn’t done with me just yet.

Instead of showing me an early exit, the Creator sent me a new love, and as complicated a relationship as I’ve ever had…even more complicated than the relationship I had with Brooklyn.

And that’s saying a lot!

For I did and do love Brooklyn.

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But I also hate Brooklyn. It’s true. I romance the stone a lot on this blog, but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Brooklyn left much to be desired. Both, what it had once been, the Brooklyn I grew up in, and what it has steadily become since long before I made my exodus.

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From a neglected disaster of a ghetto replete with drugs, homicides, disease, illiteracy, gangs, anger and despair; a community that took much more than it gave, to a rapidly gentrifying dislocation disaster area with dissolving character and distinctiveness, replete with cafes, bistros and sushi bars, and a plethora of upwardly mobile folk and predators dead set on exploiting, gutting and defacing her, while maintaining her precious brownstone housing stock…and this, all in my lifetime!

But, socio-politics aside, I never really felt entirely safe in Brooklyn. Some might say that’s a good thing, myself included at a time (and maybe that’s one of the impacts Japan has had on me) but the result of this insecurity is I never even considered raising a family there. My dream was to get rich and get out. And now that she has begun to rise from the debris, thanks almost entirely to people I know personally who never gave up on her even in her darkest hours, I feel torn between embracing the changes and mourning the losses. Ironically, I’d have to almost be rich before I could even afford to move back to Brooklyn.

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Yes, a very complicated relationship.

So, what does the Creator do? He enthralled me with yet another complicated relationship…with a town called Yokohama.

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Almost immediately, I was hooked.

 

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From the restaurants of Chinatown…

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to the rice fields of Tana…

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It’s LOVE, I tell you! Head over heels!

It suited me…and maybe that was by design.

Yokohama actually has several things in common with Brooklyn. For one, Yokohama is to Tokyo as Brooklyn is to Manhattan, which gives it a similar energy, I think. Saitama, my previous home, was more like Central Jersey. (-;

That, and other facets, enabled Yokohama to win my heart…

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But, as readers of Loco in Yokohama well know, and as the Creator in his infinite wisdom knew when He guided someone with my experience (talents) and disposition here, the challenge for me was loving a place while holding many of the people who populate the place in contempt.

Again, similar to my situation in Brooklyn. I could do without a good number of the people there, as well.

As Chris Rock, another Brooklynite, once said (and I, grudgingly, concur):

What many readers fail to realize, as evidenced by some of the comments I’ve received over the years, is this: I’ve become what could easily be classified as a Yokohamaphile – in the best sense of the word, of course. 24013_370507779298_6220091_n

The love I have for Yokohama is partially as a result of what she has done for me. Call it love derived from loyalty. Yokohama slapped me upside the head and woke my ass up and showed me exactly where my passion was hiding itself. She helped me tap into that well of creativity inside of me, and restored my sense of purpose and direction, at a time when I was in dire need.

And for that I’ll be eternally grateful, and motivated to return the favor!

Think of LIY as a much needed slap upside Yokohama’s head, with the intention of waking her up to her fullest potential. I think anyone who offers their love without these intentions is simply patronizing her.

And I hate that!

My expectations for Japan were very low before coming here to Yokohama. But there’s something about the energy generated by this city, and yes some of the Japanese people I know here as well, and that has helped me keep my chin up when the going’s tough. I try to capture that energy in my writing and in my photographs, but I still feel I haven’t quite got it right.

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But I continue to strive, to give my best, and to expect the best, for Yokohama, and I, (and my ex, Brooklyn, for that matter) deserve nothing less!

 

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PS: And if you haven’t read Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist yet, what are you waiting for? A personal invitation? Check it out! It’s available in paperback and E-book version here.

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10 Responses to “Photo Essay #2: Loco ♥s Yokohama”

  1. Rude Boy Abroad 19 March 2013 at 11:01 pm Permalink

    Hey, now that was a great post! Really liked the way you drew parallels between Brooklyn and Yokohama – never thought of it that way before! Especially interesting that you’re a Yokohamaphile; I had no idea! And I find that intriguing, as a Kansaiphile myself ;)

    You really hit on something I’d been putting a lot of thought into a couple months ago, which is that, for me at least, loving a person often means demanding the best of them – and so for me, loving Japan means requiring that she better herself, not throwing her problems under a rug. Maybe we’re coming from different places, there, but judging by this post it sounds like the feeling is similar.

    • Locohama 20 March 2013 at 2:23 pm Permalink

      Hey rude boy! We are mos definitely on the same page. Part of Love is expecting the best of loved ones. If you have low expectations it’s pretty much guaranteed that the results will be low as well. I see the potential here. If I didn’t I would have given up the ghost long ago. Some people disagree with this approach to love. They think or suggest that if you love her than accept her as she is. There is some truth to that, to be sure, but if my lover, say, has an illness, I’m not gonna sit by do nothing, especially after she’d helped me with I was under the weather, metaphorically speaking. Maybe the problem is some people can’t see how Yokohama has shown me love, perhaps. I think in the coming weeks I will have to rectify that a bit more often, thus this post. But I won’t be gushing lol Yokohama and I don’t have that kind of relationship. We’re more like that couple that has been together for a long time, have gotten through all the mushy stuff, and have settle into a relationship founded on interdependence, nurturing and a bit of hanky lanky from time to time lol thanks for the shout yo!

      • Nincompoop 12 June 2013 at 7:01 pm Permalink

        Hey! I read your written experience in Japan. It was really descriptive, and even though this isn’t the point, it was really entertaining. It made me really want to meet you one day when I become a teacher in Japan. I’m only 19 now, but in four years or so, I should be around there! Btw, I live in Jersey. hahahaha Don’t call me a joke! It’s not my fault!

  2. ferret 19 March 2013 at 11:02 pm Permalink

    I took 2 weeks!
    Maybe because it was the first place I visited outside my own country.
    But the place seems to have a spirit, a presence that Tokyo lacks, some similarities to my home city and enough differences to make it exotic.
    On whose streets do I walk alone at 3am without fear? Not my home town, but, yes, in Yokohama!

    • Locohama 20 March 2013 at 2:28 pm Permalink

      I don’t remember exactly when she got her hooks in me, but I will try to recall and post about it soon. I do like the safety factor but I don’t sweat it much. I take it for granted nowadays a bit more than I should mainly because that safety factor comes at a price that often I find myself having to pay…the fact is, while to us coming from the outside world, this place is ridiculously safe, to the people here it’s not quite seen that way unless they are comparing it to the west they see on tv and in movies. If they compare it to the most common reference which is years past, then japan to them has become a much more dangerous place, and they behave like that is the case. At least that has been my observation. Thanks for the shout ferret!

  3. Chris 20 March 2013 at 12:13 pm Permalink

    Aaaaah!!! F*&^K!!

    I just used you as a prob in a post …I gotta read before posting and you comment late at night Mr Night Owl.

    Let the happiness flow and let this post get some love…more than a post about hate and negativity.

    (playin’ in the background)

    **I believe we can fly…I believe we can touch the sky…**

    • Locohama 20 March 2013 at 2:34 pm Permalink

      …I think about it every night and day!
      No doubt.
      Funny you should use R. Kelly. He’s us in the music industry. Only he blows up either way. He makes a song called “feeling on your booty” basically a shock jam, and he’s go platinum. The. He makes “I believe I can fly” a lovefest to be sure, and goes super platinum. Then comes back with “let me stick my key in your ignition baby” and goes platinum, then remixes “step in the name of love” and does it again. He’s a fucking role model! Lol fucking genius! Urinates on teens and walks away unscathed, and makes another lovefest, and goes platinum again. Smh. I wonder how his taste buds are doing. Thanks for the shout yo

  4. Chris 20 March 2013 at 1:24 pm Permalink

    https://maps.google.com/maps?um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=starbucks+in+brooklyn&fb=1&hq=starbucks&hnear=0x89c24416947c2109:0x82765c7404007886,Brooklyn,+NY&sa=X&ei=OTlJUYr5J8qxkgWDoIGoAw&ved=0CL0BELYD

    If like 12 Starbucks in your old hood are any indication….yeah…you better save up if you ever wanna go back. Someone right now is sipping on a Latte’ right where a Momma’s baby got got. Life is a trip…and it happens so fast sometimes.

    • Locohama 20 March 2013 at 2:41 pm Permalink

      Those starbucks on that map are primarily in ultra yuppy districts like dumbo and gentrified districts like Williamsburg and greenpoint…and one by the new stadium they built for the Brooklyn Nets smh but it’s spreading east to my hood rapidly like some kind of plague. Anyway, guess I gotta get a positive cash flow first then I’ll have options. Wonder if I’d opt to move back to Starbucks land of I had the choice…hmmm. He’ll even Yokohama has become Starbucks land,. This place is changing as quickly as Brooklyn. That rice field in the pics will probably vanish within the next few years. so it ain’t liked really escaped that phenomenon at all. Gentrification is happening even here in Yokohama, on the REAL. I talk to my students about this and they mostly concur. Smh. It’s an international creature feature this g-word.

  5. Will 21 March 2013 at 12:01 pm Permalink

    One of your posts before this got me thinking and maybe remembering that quote:

    The language I have learn’d these forty years,
    My native English, now I must forego:
    And now my tongue’s use is to me no more
    Than an unstringed viol, or a harp;
    Or like a cunning instrument cas’d up,
    Or, being open, put into his hands
    That knows no touch to tune the harmony.

    However, this post shows (and tells) a lot more than just living in a land where people are prone to misconceive.

    Star*ucks coffee, though they do serve a tasty roast, I can’t ever go into one without a feeling of being pushed through. Heck, even Tokyo’s now got a Brooklyn Roasting Company that presents itself in a shamelessly professional manner that hints at (or screams) ‘genterise’.

    That energy that you often capture in your writing and photos (I’m thinking people on trains, short skirts, and… yeah…) – that energy and the energy it takes to survive in a city is something that I’ve never attempted. I betting your hands will be able to fine-tune the harmony in your passionate relationship with Yokohama and her ports; you’ve got the keys at your fingertips.


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