Showing posts with label jokamachi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jokamachi. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hagi Jokamachi details


I am reluctant to call myself a photographer. Of course in the simplest sense a photographer is someone who takes photos, so  obviously I, like almost all of us, are photographers, but if a photographer is someone with technical camera skills then I would not be able to call myself a photographer.


I only have the most rudimentary knowledge of such things as f-stops, focal lengths, etc and most of my photos are taken using the auto settings of my camera. All these photos were taken with a relatively cheap "point and shoot" camera. Expensive cameras and lenses would be wasted on me.


I also take photos very quickly. I don't spend much time setting up shots. I wander around going click, click, click at whatever attracts my eye. Often what attracts my eye are details..... textures, patterns of light and shade, compositions of simple intersecting lines. I am a very simple photographer.


I am often complemented on my "eye", and asked how it is I "see" the things I photograph. Its kind of a difficult question because my subjects are simply there staring me in the face. In fact I would say they call out to me. What exactly is going on is really not all that clear to me except I would have to say it is a matter of simply looking.


Simply looking would mean allowing my consciousness to focus in my eyes rather than in my head. I think it means not thinking, not expecting, and not listening to the chatter of words around and in me. In essence, I think, it means shutting up.


These are some of the things I saw while wandering around the samurai district of Hagi for an hour.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Walls of Hagi Jokamachi


The urbanization of Japan can be said to have begun in the Tokugawa period. An edict of 1615 restricted the daimyo to just one castle in their territory and another law forced all the samurai to live within the towns that grew up around these castles. This is the origin of the Jokomachi.


One of the best preserved jokamachi is in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, seat of the Mori domain. Spared destruction by the development that followed the construction of railways and stations, the rail line skirted Hagi and so the grid of streets making up the old town still remain.


The very highest ranked samurai lived within the castle grounds behind the outer walls, but the next highest ranked lived right next to the castle. As the rank descended the samurai lived further and further away from the castle.


While the poorest samurai lived in quite crude accomodations, the higher ranked samurai lived in mansions surrounded by high walls.


many of these walls were plastered and painted, but some were left plain. The ones built using old roof tiles are particularly striking.