My motto is “never think.” Thinking is a mistake. A real mistake. You become sentimental. Don’t think. As soon as I vaguely sense something, I shoot it. I don’t think about it. Simply to have felt something is enough. I don’t care about what I felt, what it means, what I want to communicate, whatever. I mean, even the shutter speed setting at that moment, It doesn’t matter. 

So I keep shooting the street and then print out the photos and line them up and then, you know, in the end, if you’re not careful, well….the street, it’s dangerous. Life is. Meaning gets produced.

– Nobuyoshi Araki, on his series 『道路』Road in an interview on December 12, 2013

via the essay/interview A.’s Secret, Our Secret by Kaori Fujino, published in Ojo Shashu (Heibonsha, 2014)

Almost a 3D Creatures and Flower Picture Book review

The third in my Almost a Review series, 3D Creatures and Flower Picture Book (you may know by the Siliconera fantasy title of The 3D Illustrated Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna) is exactly that: a picture book featuring creatures and flowers in full 3D, and is thus unscore-able due to there being no actual gameplay elements (apart from the Tomodachi Collection style quiz!). The software is brought to 3DS by four companies: Nintendo (duh!), Heibonsha (a hooge publishing company whose work includes a fantastic discourse in Japanese male-male sexuality), Qtec (the 3D guys) and Paon (whose games include Donkey Kongs: King of Swing, Jungle Climber and Barrel Blast).

The very first split-second of 3D Picture Book almost sounds like the intro to a Final Fantasy before the tune kicks in. Presentation wise this is second-to-none and is an absolute credit to Nintendo being something that most games companies can learn from. With three save slots for you and family members you choose a slot, choose your name and view away! The viewing categories are: flowers, birdies, creepy crawlies, amphibians, fungi (sadly no Toad although the creepy crawlies section does include a ladybird that looks like a Bob-omb!), animals and fishies. The other main window is a comprehensive search option that enables you to search (in Japanese) using a million different criteria.

As well as the aforementioned quiz, there is also an options option (!) and the ability to look at creatures and flowers you’ve either viewed before, exclamation marked or hearted. Each creature and flower is accompanied by a 3D picture (this in-itself makes 3D Creatures and Flower Picture Book stand out from every published book and justifies any purchase), a comprehensive write-up and where available view the creature or flower from every rotatable angle, listen to the relevant sound and/or watch a video. Unfortunately these aren’t available for most of the entries and every video -perhaps understandably but still frustratingly- displays a significant drop in quality.

3D Creatures and Flower Picture Book isn’t quite as comprehensive as one may hope although at 6,701 blocks (837MB) is still absolutely huge. One of my favourite features is a chain linking together similar groups. The presentation, image quality and sound really need to be witnessed for what the 3DS can be capable of although sadly -like Monster Hunter 4- Miiverse picture uploads have been disabled. The reduced price (¥3,800 as opposed to the typical first party ¥4,800) will still likely be too high for some but for those willing to pay the price -and more importantly those with a keen interest in creatures and flowers- will be rewarded with a fantastic slice of software.



1, 3: Nobuyoshi Araki, Tokyo Story,   Heibonsha, 1989

2, 4, 6:  Shinjuku, Tokyo. April. 2015 (Google Streetview)

5: Nobuyoshi Araki, Sexual Colors, Intermedia Shuppan, 2002

On an ambling photo walk through Shinjuku back in 2007 I came across a small park populated by some weathered concrete animals. Immediately I recognized the place from Nobuyoshi Araki’s photobook masterpiece Tokyo Story (1989).

 Having long enjoyed Araki’s self-referential nature in his pictures it was a delight to spot the same park in Sexual Colors (2002), a photobook that’s a compilation of Araki’s ludicrously wild pictures from his Shashin-Jidai years in the mid 1980s.  As a photographer he can be intelligently subtle when he wants- however, this spread was the exact over-the-top opposite. In the other photos of this model he had her posing with a copy of the Tokyo Story book, right smack on the tatami, for his lens. 

Since this dusty little park is near Totem Pole Photo Gallery I’ve since revisited it  several times since- these digital snaps are from April, 2015.  It has seemed to have fallen into neglect- the Tokyo Story pictures, taken in the late 1980s, show it had seen better days. The sandbox and trellis seen in the first picture, and the slide seen in the third, have been removed. With the proximity of what is going to be the new Olympic Park area for 2020 I wonder just how much longer this charming little corner will remain home to these concrete creatures.