OBSCURA Volume 27 / Autumn & Winter 2019 “Even a Small Love.” Bike The Moment / 大橋步 / My Grandfather and His Envelopes
We can do small things with great love to change the world.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
—— Mother Teresa
Highlighted stories include:
1. CAREER PLAN AFTER TURNING 60 / AYUMI OHASHI
Excerpt My friends were all excited when learned about my scheduled interview with Ohashi. Many media practitioners of my generation who are now in our 30s or 40s were deeply inspired by her at some point in our careers. Seventeen years ago, Ohashi, at the age of 62, published her own zine, Arne. I only got to encounter Arne magazine seven years after its debut. I was so moved when seeing this mini-zine for the first time at a bookshop in Japan. I was already working as a magazine editor for a few years back then. My job experience had equipped me with a lot of rigid guidelines, for instance, what kind of photography can best illustrate the personality of the interviewee, how to set the reading pace through typesetting, how to create an intriguing front page for a feature, and so on. Arne was different, they managed to break away from all these constraints. Their snapshots were uncalculating. The headlines were simple and straightforward. The photography for the culinary features was unpretentious. The presentation of Arne magazine is so down to earth. I was then surprised to know that it only took one person to handle all the production steps, including editing, writing, photography, and illustration. So a magazine does not necessarily need a full production team, it can also be made by just an individual. I suddenly came to realize the world can be so fluid and gentle. Being strong and agile is not the only way to survive; tenderness can, as well, bring you unexpected results.
2. MODES OF MOVEMENT IN THE CITY / BIKE THE MOMENT
Excerpt On a Sunday morning, Queenie decided to meet up with Hughes at Western Market in Sheung Wan. So Hughes just biked from Sheung Wan with trams passing next to him, amidst their “ding-ding” sound. “On the morning of a bank holiday, the city slowly gets brightened up by the rising sun, where most people are still lying in bed. This is a fascinating moment. It is all so quiet in contrast to the city’s usual bustling and stressful vibe. The streets are empty, which makes it perfect for cycling.” It is not difficult to spot historical buildings in the Central and Western District. Having a bike ride in this area, you can pass by colonial architecture, traditional Chinese medicine shops, old-fashioned grocery shops, and also many old trees. “I once went to Ho Ho Restaurant by bike with my friends on a late night. We were pretty tired, so we just sat down and talked while enjoying the food there. Cycling connects us with the city, as well as with the people in the city.” Cycling along the shore in the direction of Sai Wan Pier, you can see runners running, children playing and people fishing. “The harbor glows in orange color at sunset, it can also get smooth like a mirror after a rainy day. It is so beautiful that it attracts many people to come and take photographs. This place has transformed from a cargo pier to a spot for couples to date or people to hang out. I am always intrigued by how a place can be used so differently from its original plan.”
3. MY GRANDFATHER AND HIS ENVELOPES / SAKUKO FUJI
Excerpt “The house of my late grandpa was reclaimed and needed to be demolished. One day, I just went there to help to clear it up and to pick up a drawer from there. The drawer was so heavy, so I opened it to have a look. In two of the big drawer boxes, I discovered stacks of identical envelopes. Looking at them, I couldn’t stop sobbing as I recognized them as envelopes my grandpa made,” says Sakuko who used to hang out in her grandpa’s house as a kid. She remembered how grandpa was always busy with cutting, folding, and gluing paper. She would sit next to him and watch him work. The drawer of envelopes is also a drawer of memory that is inexplicably valuable to her. Although she immediately reached out to Yasuko to ask her to keep any other envelopes she found as soon as she could, Yasuko has already thrown away half of them.
“I believe finish making the envelopes were not my grandpa’s goal. What he cared the most should be the creation process like obtaining paper material, cutting cardboard box or other thicker paper into two equal halves. The outcome of the envelopes was not something he pursued, they just happened to be like that.” The story of her grandfather’s envelopes went viral. Sakuko says she did not think too much about the aesthetic value of the envelopes; what truly moved her was seeing her grandfather doing the exact same thing with dedication every day without asking for attention.