We’ll never know what we missed in Okinawa, but if the last several days are any indication, our change in plans has been a blessing in disguise. Yesterday, with the help of Dan Abbe, a young American photographer living in Japan, we were able to have a full day of shooting and carousing with Kazuo Kitai, who arranged a car and driver to take us to the area around Haneda Airport. This is not a part of town tourists usually see (or would want to see), but it is perfect Gossage territory: nondescript and unexciting on the surface, but exuding a slow timeless eloquence that John is able to capture in pictures.
We started in a mosquito-infested park. At first Kitai did not understand exactly why we were there, but after observing John for a few minutes, he commented how interesting John’s process was, how he could see what John saw, and then he busted out his Leica (with an 80 year-old lens) and began to photograph.
He was amused when John started shooting a praying mantis. Seeing two great photographers squatting on the ground with a green bug in between them must surely rank as one of the strangest moments of my bookselling career. When John laid down to get the correct shot, the Japanese men grunted in appreciation. We’ll see if it makes the final cut.
We walked to an area by water where people took picnics and airplane spotters set up their tripods. I can not tell you where this was. Maybe half way between Haneda and the racetrack. Unfindable. It felt like a scene out of Wolfgang Tillmans’ Concorde.
There was a small temple, a shipyard, and innumerable tiny streets where laundry hung to dry and corrugated tin buildings were the prevalent style. We ate a modest lunch of maguro don in a local restaurant, and took a look at some nearby shops. This is a Japanese pickle I think.
Then we drove in search of Starbucks and wound up at a mall that could have been in Paramus, New Jersey. We had a snack at Bagel and Bagel!
Once back at the hotel John asked Kitai to inscribe his copies of Resistance and Sanrizuka. (I went overboard and had four copies of Resistance signed…) In the bar lurked the ghost of Martin Parr.
After some confusion about where to go for dinner, we strolled the neighborhood and I spotted a izakaya restaurant that looked appealing. No English spoken; no English menu. Portends of a good meal. Shrimp cakes and sashimi, grilled fish heads (Kitai ate the eyes!) and fried chicken. A bunch of indecipherable small plates. There will be no such luck at breakfast. 5 straight days of eggs.
Thanks for reading.