I was messing around with my camera the other day when I realized that I had never cleared out the memory card inside of it. That memory card contains all the photos and videos I took while I was in Japan and Korea, which I transferred to my computer shortly after returning to America but I must have forgotten to delete them off the memory card. Scrolling through the myriad images on my camera’s small screen, I went all the way back to the beginning to remind myself of what the first photo was that I had taken with my camera after I arrived Japan. Below is the image.
This photo was taken on my first full day in Japan at the Kaminarimon, or “Thuder Gate,” in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. I had actually passed by the Kaminarimon the previous night when I had arrived in Asakusa and was making my way to my hostel, but being loaded down with my backpack and tired from my flight and the trains needed to reach Asakusa, I didn’t stop that night to take much of a look at it. The next morning I made my way straight to Kaminarimon as my first bit of sightseeing in Japan and this photo became the first one I took with my camera in the country. As you can see, much of the gate is covered over for restoration work but the main part of Kaminarimon is still visible to the public. If I remember correctly, the statue on the right is Fujin, the god of wind, and the statue of the left is Raijin, the god of thunder. On the underside of the big lantern in the middle of the gate is a cool wooden carving of a dragon that’s easy to miss. Beyond the gate is a shopping street and in the distance you can barely make out the upper floor of Senso-ji Temple.
After checking out the gate for a minute I passed through and slowly made my way towards Senso-ji, stopping frequently to check out the various wares being sold in all the stalls along the street. That photo I had taken was the first of thousands that I’d collect while overseas, and maybe it’s somehow fitting that the first photo from Japan was of a gate. I had entered a new part of the world and there was a whole lot waiting for me on the other side.