Walk With Me: A Piece of Peace Part 1
by Jay Revelle
April 20, 2018
In many ways, what I want to say is, “Let me take you on a walk, and we’ll start here. And then, as we’re walking, look at that. Wow, look at that over there. Look at this. And we take a walk together. And when the walk ends, that’s the experience.” – Henry Wessel, American photographer
In Japan, the areas of Fujisawa, Kamakura, and Zushi/Hayama sit somewhat sandwiched between some of America's biggest military installations in the Far East: Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Base Atsugi, with Yokota Air Base also not too far away.
Here, the skies are abuzz with both U.S. and Japanese planes, while some of America's biggest Navy ships (and Japanese ones) sit at port. These nearby military bases are alive with activity.
But what can be said about the quieter “Main Streets” of Japan—the civilian residential areas in-between? What do these areas feel like? What do they look like?
As a longtime resident of these areas in Japan, it is common that I find myself walking home at night from the local train station after the last train, and from the first walk quite a while ago, I was awestruck by the serenity of Japan’s nighttime landscape. As a film photographer, capturing it became a passion.
Amid the bouncing light and between the shadowy shapes, we can see how humans in Japan have shaped the landscape around them against the backdrop of what was once only the wild. It’s thus a “human landscape.” It’s the parks, pathways, residential areas, parking lots, sidewalks, houses, and other brick & mortar buildings of Japan, used daily by all local residents, including myself. And one great way to see them is at night, with no one around.
It’s the instance of randomly turning a corner only to see a park light cast a shadow perfectly behind an object. One step forward or backward changes it completely. At times without a camera, I must look like a mental patient to any onlooker as I move back and forth, studying the light playing off the object, while making mental notes for when I come back with film gear. I then might explore areas and streets for hours with a camera and tripod over my shoulder—I session the neighborhoods.
Amid these quiet residential areas, the combined forces of the U.S. and Japan work day and night to maintain stability in an unstable region. Peace is worth its weight in gold, in any form, and I take it where I find it. I am lucky to be enjoying it, and even luckier to have so much fun capturing it. I seem to have found some peace right here, amid the peace already provided by busy military forces. It’s a piece of peace. Thank you for taking a look.