I love my camera. A couple years ago I bought this wonderful zoom lens (18 to 250). Very practical for traveling about where I want to take both landscape shots and close ups. Well ... yesterday ... something locked up in the lens. Now ... it is constantly zoomed in. If I want to take close-ups of flowers, or anything else, it's great. If I want to take a picture of say ... my lunch ... have to stand 10 feet away from the table. I can take very distant landscape shots but the middle ground ... very hard to get there.
So I got to thinking about this yesterday afternoon on the train from Oda to Matsue. Many of you who know me, know that I believe that much of the "stuff" that happens in daily life, is a metaphor for what's really going on in life. So be it with my camera ...
The main point of my seminar yesterday was that the students needed to broaden their perspective when designing their web site and social media. The audience they want to attract is not 20 something Japanese college students. It's people like me looking for a new adventure in Japan. It's people with the means to travel. They really needed to "zoom out" to see the big picture. At least we got a picture of the group before my camera decided it no longer wanted to zoom out ...
After the morning seminar, Eleanor Kane (far right, my host for the visit) and I went to Iwami Ginzan, a World Heritage silver famous for a silver mine that at one time produced a sizable percentage of the world's silver. It was closed in 1923. The town is a classic old Japanese town and they have been restoring the buildings and homes as stores and shops to attract visitors. It was like stepping back in time. Wandering quiet streets (on a weekday there are very few tourists), I imagined the clip clop of the wooden sandals. Women in kimono. Listened to the water running through the streams and drainage system along the street.
We walked up the hill a way to a lovely restaurant overlooking a Japanese garden ... we both commented that we could live in this spot ... and that's when my lens locked up. It was so peaceful and beautiful right where I was ... why zoom out to anything else?
But we eventually had to leave. We wandered back down the street ... Eleanor taking pictures of "Flat Stanleys" along the way. I mumbled and grumbled and fussed about my camera and finally said the hell with it and pulled out my phone.
Eleanor then dropped me at the Ohda train station for me to get the train to Matsue. Talk about seeing Japan through a different lens ... this trip was SO different than the train travel I am used to around Tokyo and Kobe. There were very few people on the train. Most of them were students heading home from school. Instead of 8 to 10 cars, the trains have two cars. Even the express. Except through the stations, there is only one track. Trains are scheduled so they can pass at stations.
I took a "local" for the first part of the trip. Some of the stops, I wouldn't call them stations, were a concrete slab with a sign post. Reminded me of the Amtrak station, if you can call it that, in Elizabethtown, PA. (Yes, there is an Amtrak stop there) In between stops there was a lot of greenery but occasionally there was a view of the Sea of Japan looking out toward the Korean peninsula. Oh my, it was stunning in places. Like driving Highway 1 in Northern California.
So I am seeing Japan through a different lens this trip. Shimane is a different world. Separated from the rest of Japan by rugged mountains. So far away from the thriving capital that this is where they sent disgraced or unseated emperors into exile. It's quiet. It's rural. It's economy is struggling. But for now, I like being zoomed in. Seeing it close up. When I get home maybe I'll be far enough away to focus and put it all in perspective.