Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bicycles and Buildings

If you're like me, when you travel you have your eyes and heart on everything that comes your way. It's like everything is there to be drunk in, one feast after another. As a result I found myself documenting as much as I could keep up with. My love affair with Japan's relationship to bicycles, as well as the interest (and common practice) to create sculptural, other-worldly buildings became its own mini-project along the way. I think you'll understand if I share with you images to go along with my ramblings....

a typical scene tucked into a corner of one of Shibuya's busy intersections

Do you see these men, on their bicycles in slim suits? And the one closest to my camera, with his jumble of parcels so tidily attached on the back of his bike?? Effortless-looking.

Loving the tones and shapes - every day we would cross a pedestrian bridge that overlooked this intersection and I always found something new and fascinating about it...

On our first day in Shimokitazawa, we saw this tricked out bike hanging in a balcony alcove.

On another, we encountered this bizarre back-to-the-future style bike in a store window.

One of the few people I saw wearing a helmet.

This beautiful vintage bike sat near train tracks outside of Kyoto.

What great handlebars, never mind the leather seat and that headlight!

There were plenty of other bikes, all made for usability on city streets and sidewalks. In Japan, there are wide enough sidewalks to allow for the passage of pedestrians and bicyclists, or alternately, there are narrow paths alongside car traffic where bicycles and people make their way together. Hands down, people on foot or bike are courteous and looking out for one another. We found this to be the case wherever we went.

A mama and her tyke (check out that happy baby!).       

This is a tricycle hybrid - look closely and you'll see...

Loved this funky detailing.

Elegance & Function!

Those who know me know my partiality to red. See how the bike is set against that stone? Gorgeous.

Together in snowfall, Takayama.

In addition to babies strapped to the fronts and backs of bikes, we routinely saw elderly people traveling by bicycle. 70-and 80-somethings, evenly traversing the roadways on their way to wherever. This made an impression on J and me - I don't think either of us could recall having seen that stateside before.

Then there were the buildings. Too numerous to possibly record, here are some of my favorites.

In Daikanyama, Atelier and storefront; Culinary Institute.

Soaring elements of the massive Roppongi Hills complex.

A Louise Bourgeois sculpture at Roppongi Hills; walkways and a fountain under the steel wheel.

These each made their appearance like moments in a dream, engulfing and caricature-like. Yet their grace was evident, too. A casual presence on tiny street corners and grand thruways, these monuments often shared space next to traditional structures - company to all passers-by - evocative of the many flavors of Japan.

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