Summer Snow

Location: Davis, California, United States

I am a graphic design student at UC Davis. My screenname, kiroin is used for my websites, blogs and other online presences. It has no meaning.. yet? Email:

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Project Progress

By revisiting my block, I've noticed that it's not as quiet and abandoned that I thought it was. People were around this time, mostly waiting for others by reading or talking on their phones. There were skateboarders and a bunch of homeless. It's wierd. I still can't quite place my thesis for my project. I think that it will have to do with the wierd contradictions of the park.

I notice how people flow through the park yet some have to stay. Few actually enjoy it. Space is so scarce here within the city yet here is a bunch that can't be used because of the freeways overhead. It seems kinda sad. Like the homeless are also displaced. Most of the people around are rushing to get somewhere and pass the park, yet the homeless have time but no place to go. There's a sign that talks of preserving the natural world for future generations, but the park is all concrete.

Impressions of Kyoto

Kyoto was a great change from the environment of Tokyo. In all actuallity, it seemed to feel much more like home than Tokyo. In Tokyo, it's the everyday rush of people and places that seems so foreign to me. However, the ryokan in Ohara, Kyoto was located up in the hills away from the main city. The narrow roads surrounded by lush vegetation reminds me of Big Basin, California. The environment, too, emits the aura of a camping retreat with ryokans as mountain villas and temples for summit decks. Life up there moved at a more natural pace and it felt more 'homey' than the masses within Tokyo. This was something I was used to, something to which I could relate and for a bit of time lose the feeling of being an outsider.

The actual city of Kyoto again remided me of home. The streets were busy to be sure, but the city layout was much more western. I understand that the whole city was laid out on a grid like american cities, but the actual buildings were much shorter than those in Tokyo. Tokyo has streets that are either much wider or much narrower than those of American cities, but Kyoto's streets were about the same width as those at home. As for the tmples, I guess its not too surprising to see so many school groups. I can imaging that school groups visit the temples just as I had to go on field trips to the California Missions.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Neighborhood Narratives

My block is the park below three intersecting highways, next to a river, and over a metro station. I believe it is called Ichinohashi Junction and the train stop is Azabu-Juban.

The park is very connected but at the same time disconnected from the people that come across it. People on the highway will pass right by it without even a glimse. People on the metro would see it only if it were their stop by coming above ground. The land is used in such a way that shops cannot be erected and thus a park is created instead. It is such a busy hub of people yet rarely do any stay to enjoy it.

I think I will make a website to similate people's view of the park. As a businessperson, I would take quick shots of the park only focusing on the intended destination. A child might stay awhile and view the sculptures. The workers would stay even longer, looking at the different aspects of the park that ought to be fixed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Lateral View

"A Lateral View" ofters some points of interest about Japan and Tokyo in Particular.

Blocks in Tokyo are very much mini towns, offering a range of shops and services stacked veritcally and then as a unit stamped across the city. Convinience stores would be the center of a block-town. They are indeed convenient- Household items, food, magazines, snacks, ATM, Postal, copy machine, cell phone charging, and utiliity bill paying services are offered. In addition to the AM/PM, 7 and Holdings, or SunKus convinience stores, there's the small restaurants- A range of types but the cheap ones come to mind when we troll for a meal. As a group, it's hard to find any one place to eat for although on can find cheap and delicious ramen shops several to a block, they are usually very small, barely holding 20 customers. It goes to show that such stores cater to individuals or groups of more intimate relations, two, maybe three friends. Restaurants are small because they are in relation to the block not the city.

"A Lateral View" explains in "Signs and Symbols" that English words don't posses implicit meanings and that Japanese Kanji do. The author cites two examples which are lumped together as a type of hard alcohol: OSake, and Whiskey. The author mentions that Osake is associated with "conviviality, warmth, solace and enjoyment" and that Whiskey has no associations. I beg to differ. I would add that Whiskey has associations of "gambling, drunkeness, and power". The two words have very different overtones and that is due to culture not language. The real differences between Japanese and English lie in the actual cultural overtones that accompany a word. English words certainly have meanings associated with them. To one who is illiterate, the visual shape of Kanji or an English word would be meaningless. Associations and cultural overtones can only be perceived when the word is comprehended. In, fact the same associations can be made through just hearing the word. Kanji is certainly a different way of writing words, but the final meaning and overtones do not change.