Tag Archives: observing

Recapturing a Place’s Atmosphere

Whenever I’ve been somewhere so many times it feels routing, I start going into automatic mode. I don’t seem to pay attention to my surroundings. When I go to new places, not only do I notice everything around me, I also feel the atmosphere of the place.

Thinking back to when I was a kid, I think I was always sensitive to the atmosphere of the places I was in. I got a certain mood from every place. I always remember camping at the Wapiti River, going to the playground near my house, and playing at recess in elementary school.  Later, after we moved to a new town, I always enjoyed the atmosphere of the undeveloped area behind our house. There was a forested area that I often walked through.

As I grew older, I found that I wasn’t feeling the atmosphere as much. But it wasn’t sudden, it was gradual. Or maybe as an adult, I’ve been distracted by inner thoughts, and just didn’t give my full attention to my surroundings. That’s probably more likely.

What I noticed earlier this week is that I was actually feeling the atmosphere of the place I was in. I was just going out to buy a drink during my lunch break, and as I walked past a temple, I slowed down and just looked around. I started noticing the details of the temple and the high-rise apartment building next to it. It was at that moment that it hit me. I could feel the atmosphere of the place. Not only that, it made me think about how it felt when I was a newcomer in Japan. Everywhere had an atmosphere. That’s one reason I started walking around neighbourhoods near train stations. I wanted to experience the atmosphere of different places. It fascinated me.

But lately, I haven’t really gone anywhere new. And then I decided what I would do with my YouTube channel, and I think I found a way to recapture that feeling. I started thinking about the places I could go, make videos, and share the atmosphere of the place with others. I want to give people a simple view of the place. Little talking, just observe what’s around. I decided to call this series A Taste of Japan. Maybe through this, I can regain that feeling of newness that I used to have. I hope I can. And I hope you’ll enjoy watching the videos, too.

Who Do I See?

I’m on the train right now. It’s only a short ride. But who do I see?

A woman standing across from me looking at her iPhone with a Minnie Mouse cover. Two young girls about 6 and 8 years old are standing and wearing hats. A man is sitting and doing some kind of number puzzle I’ve never seen before. Next to him is a woman doing sudoku. There’s a man standing without holding onto anything while reading a book. Two men sitting next to each other are complete opposites, one is rather large and balding, the other is really small and has a full head of hair. A woman is standing nearby with a shirt that says “Manhattan Brooklyn New York.” The mother of the children I mentioned before is wearing a yellow Minnie Mouse t-shirt.

Any one of these people could have a fascinating story to tell. I wonder about each one.

Do you ever watch people and try to guess who they are or what they do?

Reconnect With Reality: Look Around

Living in Japan, I see so many people looking down at their cell phones. In the train, in the park, in the restaurant, even while walking. Their world has been reduced to a glowing LCD screen in their hands. They aren’t living in reality.

What people need to do, especially while walking, is to look around. Reconnect with their environment. Writers can definitely benefit from this. They need to observe and take mental notes about places and things they see.

Something I like doing is going for a walk by myself to just look around. Sometimes take pictures. It clears my mind, and I often get ideas from what I see. Sometimes I don’t think about that at all, just enjoy the atmosphere and scenery. This picture is what I took while starting to write this post.

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It’s a train station in Machida, Tokyo. I go through it every week. But I often go on autopilot and don’t notice everything. I like to snap myself out of that.

Are you one of those people with their eyes glued to a cell phone screen? Or do you observe your surroundings?