Architecture + Design [ 27 photos ]
Life [ 10 photos ]
Tsukiji Fish Market [ 10 photos ]
Sumo Practice [ 11 photos ]

Fukuoka [ 22 photos ]
Nagoya [ 6 photos ]

Ando in Tokyo, '05—'07 [ 15 photos ]
Christian Dior Omotesando
   - SANAA [ 5 photos ]
Harajuku Protestant Church
   - Ciel Rouge Creation [ 17 photos ]
Mikimoto Ginza 2
   - Toyo Ito [ 8 photos ]
Nakagin Capsule Tower
   - Kishio Kurakawa [ 8 photos ]
Tokyo International Forum
   - Rafael Viñoly [ 7 photos ]
Yokohama Int'l Passenger Terminal
   - Foreign Office Architects [ 13 photos ]


Imperial Hotel Entrance
   - Frank Lloyd Wright [ 17 photos ]
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art
   - Yoshio Taniguchi [ 5 photos ]

Here's a collection of photos from four trips to Japan taken between April 2005 and December 2007.

* * *

So, last time to Tokyo I ended up with a lot of bulky items (two MUJI lamps and a child-sized Eames DSR) which were awkwardly bundled together into this tall ungainly trapazoidal box in order to avoid having more than two pieces of checked luggage[1].

This Frankenstein of a box was perched precariously on top of my wheeled suitcase as I pushed it along the asphalt-paved sidewalk. The box kept sliding off from the vibrations and I kept stopping to adjust it. With my extremely bulky and heavy camera bag slung over my shoulder, it was not easy keeping everything balanced properly. Needless to say, I was making very slow progress.

Nevertheless I pushed on. The train I needed to catch was leaving in 10 minutes and the station was still a ways away. The box fell off again. I took it off and studied it, trying to see if I can come up with a better strategy to get the crazy box to the train station but really just relishing the opportunity to stop and take a much needed break. Next thing I know, this tiny old grandma who seriously wasn't much taller than the extended handle of my suitcase was standing there, hands on the handle bar, ready to push, smiling at me, motioning that she could help me push the suitcase while I carry the box.

She was the cutest thing ever—she looked like she just stepped out of some Miyazaki cartoon. Of course, I couldn't ask an old lady to help me with my luggage! I should be helping her! I frantically gestured that I was fine and thanked her profusely in my broken Japanese. This jolt of cuteness gave me some resolve and somehow I was able to keep the box from sliding around as I pushed on. I guess there's nothing quite like the fear of attracting the attention of more cute old ladies!

* * *

While I have been extremely lax about updating the content here on Figure/Ground, my Flickr stream is populated with up-to-date photos from my trips as they happen. Here are the relevant photosets that supplement the photos presented here, with lots of good eats and narcissistic arm's length self-portraits:

[1] I ended up being fined anyway because my luggages were over weight.

All images and text copyright © Liao Yusheng. He can be reached at