Back in Tokyo

Lights are wrapped around the trees lining Omotesando Dori, it's beautiful, and reminds me of how close Christmas really is.

I was just settling into Toronto after touching down last Thursday, before an unexpected email from Sugizo's manager arrived two days later, asking if I'd be keen to photograph Luna Sea's LIVE in Tokyo at Tokyo Dome this weekend.

The past couple days had been sleepless with my packing, flight from LA to Toronto, meetings, more meetings, retouching, the pending confirmation for my Tokyo trip, and then packing again followed by the 13-hour flight from Toronto to Narita. I was retouching even on the plane.

It feels good to be back in Japan, this trip marks my 10th time in Tokyo.

In some ways, the familiarity makes it feel like a 2nd home to me now. And I think that familiarity is something really beautiful, for it brings back memories, making those moments feel close and real again, and that feeling is precious, almost like a dream, but real. So much memories here.

Christmas and New Year in Tokyo

I know these are kind of belated, but better late than never right? :D :D

Pre X'mas

I had the blessings to try like, the best brownies of my life.

Freshly baked one unsuspecting morning. The smell was so sinful that I literally couldn't go back to sleep after it woke me up. I went out of my room and stared at my host Glenn till he offered me three pieces of awesomes. I'd never felt sadder about finishing my food when the last piece was gone. T_T


Met up with Kiem and had okonomiyaki and monjayaki, one of those things I must have each time I'm back in Japan. :D

Lights!! I love the illuminations in Japan during Christmas and New Year so much. This was at Shinjuku.

Paper-cut chandeliers in Tokyo Midtown

Went to Tokyo Midtown and saw these these incredible (and huge!) paper cut-out chandeliers. So brilliantly simple and beautiful, and fit perfectly with the aesthetics of the interiors.

We then chanced upon these US$160 strawberries. Like. Woah. *___*

Christmas

Glenn prepared a feast of a dinner for his X'mas home party:

Like, holy cow, can you believe one person prepared all these @_@ I'm out of alternatives for the word awesome, so yeah, awesome. :D

Shopped too at some point of time. Absolutely heartable new pieces:


From top: Helmut Lang soft leather & wool top, Alice Auaa cropped jacket and h.Naoto Dark Red Rum H.Jelly dress. :D

New Year

Got to experience a Japanese New Year!

Sawaka working on our New Year's eve dinner <3

Brandon, Chris, Sawaka and her friends.

Don't know why the boys look so unhappy. I swear I'm not a mean photographer ><

The dishes on the table all have their own meanings (except for the nachos, ha). I can't remember them all, but soba is supposed to signify the wishing for a happy long life or something, I think? (Eat more soba™)

We watched Dead Poets Society. It was my first time. I cried, absolutely loved it. It was a recommended film to watch for Lit class in Secondary one but I somehow never got around to it, because, you know, what school recommend can never really be that great right? How wrong I was :( So gad I finally managed to see it though. I loved this quote so much: "The human race is filled with passion." There was something amazingly powerful to the lines in the film that was motivating and touching. So inspirational.

We made our way to Meiji Shrine a short while after dinner for hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the new year.

In Chinese we call this "people mountain people sea". 

So naturally we couldn't all fit under the roof. So to make offerings (coin toss), instead of getting close to the inner shrine, a huge row of humongous wooden boxes was instead placed in the empty clearing in the courtyard before the shrine for people to make their offerings and praying. (Huge like, if you'd been to Meiji Jingu, it stretches across the width of the clearing between the two large trees. Yeah.)

After saying our prayers we stayed around and ate around the food stalls that were set up along the stretch on the way out of the temple, before heading to the Telecom Center Building in Odaiba to watch sunrise.

And here's 2010!

It was such a beautiful experience, and actually also the first time I've spent a New Year's celebration with friends. I was so happy, thank you everyone for the wonderful company, may 2010 be full of wonders~! <3

Sugizo GIG 2009 ~Next Phase of Cosmic Dance~

Just wanted to post these before they collect too much dust. The experience and memories along with the event was just entirely too amazing.

And one of my favs from rehearsal:

~

His stage presence is just so incredible, one really has to see him live for the experience.

I've still yet to go through the images from our collaboration, the current project is eating up my nights and days like a monster. We're almost 70% done with the dresses for the shoot now, I hope they can be finished tomorrow so I can have Sunday to work on the story.

Honestly I didn't expect January to start out in such an explosively busy manner, I'd said more noes for this month alone than I did the entire of last year. Hopefully I can stick with the resolutions of spending time primarily on personal work, and present the new book and exhibitions as planned.

Just want to say a proper thank you to everyone for your support the past years. I'll be trying my best, so let's work hard together for this new year.

Chase your dreams with ardent passion and never give up.

Be brave, be strong.

Fallen in Tandem

Dolls: 恋月姫 Koitsukihime
Outfit: Alice Auaa
Photography: Zhang Jingna

Was going through the archives yesterday. So so many pictures. This was memorable shoot that I thought I should have posted about but didn't, so here are a few images, also included some outtakes.

It is among one of the photoshoots done in Tokyo last year for Gothic & Lolita Bible. The outfits (there was a black set as well) were made especially for these 90cm-tall Siamese twins dolls for this photo story. I thought that was pretty epic considering Alice Auaa's brand name and all. And of course the opportunity I was presented with for this special collaboration.

The set-up, handling and atmosphere of the whole shoot was kinda tense and stressful. The porcelain dolls cost more than three times my Canon 1Ds MarkIII, and outfit and set changing took more than hours with four people at it. I was also incredibly worried that Koitsukihime would have problems with the images, so in the end it was really a great relief to find everyone involved liking the photographs.

Koitsukihime's dolls are really one of a kind, so so extremely beautiful. It was said that Tim Burton really liked Koitsukihime's dolls too. Alas, I would love to own one myself one day too.

The Banquet

Gothic & Lolita Bible #34

Editor: Toshie Mihashi
Photography: Zhang Jingna
Photo assistant: Chris Wolf
Hair&Make-up: Shunichi Kawada
Models: Cay, Kazumi, Karina, Uri, Chikage, Runa

I have to say, this was one of my most fascinating shoots to date, with the most epic behind-the-scenes photograph (the first pic. I wish that went into print, haha).

I'm proud to have sorta designed the set for the final epic shot too. =D

It was shot at Vampire Cafe in Ginza, Tokyo. Too bad the shoot overran into their opening hours (5pm?) and we had to pack up, or we could have tried the food. ;_;

I love the hair and makeup to pieces. All done by Kawada-san alone, including the hair props/accessories. When we have fashion shoots we usually have one hair stylist to a model, or two. He did ALL SIX on his own, PLUS the makeup. How frigging awesome is that??!!!

I haven't gotten my copy of the mag so I'll add up the models names later, when I find out. ^^;

And just a few more around the last shot. Please pardon the lack of variation.

It's pretty amazing... Isn't it? To think how back in those days, we'd actually flip through this very magazine together.

It's strange how I never quite wrapped my mind around the concept that, one day, eventually, I will be older than you.

Never quite thought about how life was going to be beyond that point, yet here we are.

This is for you, L. Happy birthday.

Let there be Gundam. Oh yeah.

Man I sound like some serious otaku.

But really, life-sized Gundam = Epicness 200% + full of Awesome Win.

And I'm one step closer to seeing the impossibility of my childhood dream come undone, heh.

For those who're interested, it's in Odaiba, just a little outside of Tokyo. And will probably be there till the end of August 2009. Read more on AnimeNewsNetwork.

Also went to Tokyo Tower at night, just beautiful.

Ahh, it's been a long time since I experienced a day of such simplicity. Yet I was happy. Truly so.

22nd Fujitsu Cup Finals

Due to some odd alignment of the stars, by chance, I was given the opportunity to photograph yet another Go tournament finals. /joy

The Fujitsu Cup was the first international go tournament (in 1988 methinks), and is held jointly by Fujitsu and Yomiuri Shimbun (mega huge newspaper in Japan). The winner's prize money is 15,000,000 yen (roughly US157,000).

The finals was held on the 6th July 2009 at Nihon Ki-in, Tokyo.

I'm extremely in love with the tournament room.

Can't really be compared with Yuugen no Ma (the one excessively featured in Hikaru no Go) because the nature of the design's different, but still, very very beautiful.

Kang Dongyun (姜东润) 9P vs Lee Changho (李昌镐) 9P for champion

Chang Hao (常 昊) 9P vs Park Yeong Hun (朴永训) 9P for 3rd

Kang Dongyun

Lee Changho

Chang Hao

Park Yeong Hun

Across the tournament room

A very empty press room before everyone invaded.

The guy in the far corner is a reporter from Hangame Korea. I was amazed that he actually remembers me from the Ing Cup because most people who'd just met me once or twice can't recognize me with the change of hair. =_=

Takemiya Masaki 9P (famous for his "cosmic style" opening) came in the early afternoon to give commentaries on the games.

Chang and Park's game finished really early, so he came in to speak a little as well.

Accompanied by a gorgeous female pro, 万波佳奈.

Large screen is large.

And... he has a winning smile.

But Eat and I both came to the agreement that Gu Li has the bestest winning smile. So no one beats that. Gu Li FTW~! =D

More Lee Changho
And Kang Dongyun

For some reason he looks perpetually sulky, sleepy, or like he's going to cry. (And I can't resist the urge to want to say "dongyun don't cry" whenever I see this pic. No, seriously.)

End game, counting scores.

And Kang finally smiles with the champion's trophy(?). =D

It was a fun day. I really enjoy the change of atmosphere and mood it brings me whenever I get to cover go events. I also think there aren't enough resources (of all kinds, especially reportage) on go news, so, to those who find this utterly irrelevant, I'm sorry this had to turn up in your readers and alerts, I just want to share a little of what I can experience with the rest of this little community, please pardon my little selfishness. ^^;

See more images on Sina (mineee, all mine!! XD): link 1, link 2

For other go related entries please check the igo tag.