Jim Friesen - Photography

The area around Maple Ridge, B.C. is a great place to spend the day with a camera. It hides and reveals in equal measure.

Fellow Golf Lovers and Friends of Tony Salo & Steve Karp ...



It is my pleasure to announce one more tournament to raise money for cancer research in the name of Tony Salo. As some of you may remember, last year’s tournament was rained out but we had a great time watching cars and small houses being blown across the first fairway while we ate, drank, gave out prizes and reminisced about the Salo family basement in Winnipeg and Tony and Linda’s back porch in North Van. Thanks to everyone who came out.


On Saturday, September 27th, at twelve noon we will be teeing off again at Langara Golf Course. Fees for golf and dinner will be $95. We hope to give out many prizes and give you lots of opportunities to contribute to the BC Cancer Foundation while we enjoy a day of golf. The tournament will be a best-ball Texas-scramble style game (which makes it easy even for non-golfers to enjoy themselves) and was a lot of fun the first year we did it.


I would like to add Steve Karp’s name as one whom we are honoring with this tournament. Steve was a close friend of mine and Tony’s. He was also an avid golfer. He passed away last fall after battling cancer for the second time.


Please help us raise money, remember friends that are no longer here and enjoy the company of those that are.


If you would like to participate, please contact me at:




(Payments can also be made to this e-mail address but, because of paypal charges, please deposit $100.00) to discuss reserving a spot for you at this year’s tournament.


Thanks and I hope to see you soon.


Jim Friesen

The Fraser River and logging have a long history and it is still in evidence every day. The best, most sustainable use of our forests may not be in place yet. I strongly believe that hemp products are under utilized and I hope that they will be explored more in the near future. But governments and big business change at a glacial pace.


This shot is from an industrial area in east Vancouver that I visited recently. Shot with an eight minute exposure, the river carries a tranquility through even this hard working area.


While we are talking trees, and hard work, I read a great non-fiction book called "Eating Dirt" by local author, Charlotte Gill. If you have ever wanted to know what the life of a tree planter is like, give it a read.

When I was married to Michael and Angela's mom, Heather, I was lucky enough to get to know her family in Spokane. Helen and Duane are special people and I still get cards from them on special occasions. In this day of social networking and on-line birthday greetings it is something to get a card in the mail.


This card, along with some photos Helen had taken on one of our visits, connects me to a time when it was the thing one did, send cards in the mail. I am happy to have friends who remember to say happy birthday on facebook and by phone. And I am equally happy to have these wonderful people in my life, who send me a card on my birthday.


The handwriting alone is like a step into another time. Thank you Helen. Thanks Duane.


The photographs are almost 30 years old.











As seen from one of the rooms where I work.


We left the mountains while the hurricane held a blanket of cloud over southern Japan. By the time we approached Tokyo we were seeing the kind of beautiful skies that seem to appear most often after extreme weather. Before long we were back in the underground subway system and then, as on our arrival, emerging into the Tokyo night life.




Angela and I found our Ryokan after getting to street level and getting into a cab. When we showed the driver the address he laughed and told us to walk up half a block and turn right. We checked in, put our luggage away and went for a walk. I was beginning to feel the pull of home and the fatigue that two weeks on the road can inflict on a sixty-year-old travel-neophyte. I put my larger SLR away and decided to only carry my point & shoot for the last 48 hours of our trip. 

Ange wanted to see 'Electric Town'. I would have been happy sitting in one of the comfortable lounges we passed, watching the Japanese World Series, but I knew Angela wanted to spend part of the next day on her own so I stuck with her.

'Electric Town' is one of those areas with neon canyons and super-sized billboards. Young women, dressed as sexy French maids, would come out of doorways and try to entice me into the restaurants where they worked. Apparently this was very popular with young men with under-developed self-esteem. There is no sex involved but the customers are pampered and flirted with. I wasn't comfortable taking pictures of these young women. You'll have to take my word that they exist. I understand that the fashions change unexpectedly; French maids one day - cheerleaders (or whatever) the next.

In among the highrises of the area you might find a little art-deco restaurant like the one below.
The next day we got up as early as we could and made our way to the Tokyo fish-market, grabbing a macha latte on the way. Of course Angela made friends with the barrista before we left.

The Tokyo Fish Market is something else. We have the Granville Island Market in Vancouver but this was bigger and different. You have to wake up and get there by six a.m. if you want to see the fish auction. We didn't do that but we did get there in time for sushi breakfast.



Before we had breakfast I wanted to buy Michael a special present. It was great being with Angela but I thought a lot about the people at home and I wished Mike could have been with us. I decided on a hand-made knife. 
bg_29761390379840.jpgI stopped at this kiosk and started to talk to a young chef from Hawaii (he looked like Chad Owens). He assured me that these guys were famous and he came to Japan specifically to buy some knives from them. I picked one out and they put Mike's initials on it. I was thrilled.

Then it was time for breakfast. Angela was in a bind. She wanted the best sushi in Tokyo and so she thought that the best places would be the ones with the longest lines. But she didn't want to wait 40 minutes to eat. I told her that we were in the Tokyo Fish Market; how bad could any of them be. And besides, the ones with no lines probably tried harder (the old Tilden car rental motto). She relented.

bg_29771390379897.jpgWe had a fabulous feast of sushi and, when we left, there was a line-up a half a block long outside the place where there had been no line-up when we went in. I felt like Solomon.

From there we went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. I was in heaven. Angela left and I have to admit that I was a little anxious about getting around Tokyo on my own. My friend Doug had agreed to meet me at the Shibuya subway station. I got there, thought I was lost, got some confusing directions and ended up back where I started. I couldn't help but think of the wonderful movie, 'Enlightenment Guaranteed'. It was one of the reasons I was in Japan. I saw myself in a tent on the streets of Tokyo and getting a job as a waiter in a bar where they dress in leiderhosen and play oompahpah music. But I took pictures as I wandered.


If you watched the trailer for 'Enlightenment Guaranteed' you will recognize the man in the photo below. He is the Japanese laborer that I have seen in so many movies. Heroic and proud, whether polishing the floor of a monastary, turning the grinding wheel of a mill or cleaning the handrail of an escalator, as this man was.
I finally found the place where I was to meet Doug. If you don't know the story of Hachiko, here it is.
I had gotten there almost two hours early because when I set out I expected to get even more lost than I did. It gave me a lot of time to look around. I haven't talked about the fashions in Japan, especially Tokyo. They were interesting.
Shibuya has the multi-direction intersection ...
Lots of shopping opportunities ...
places where you can destress by petting kittens ...
and everything for keeping up with the latest fashion trends.

I found a beautiful area under a section of elevated subway tracks ...
and even some more bicycles against walls!

Even the railings between the sidewalks and the streets seemed worth looking at.
Doug finally arrived and we wandered Shibuya, going into guitar shops, buying tobacco and a lighter that didn't use fuel but electricity and charged by being put in a usb port. That was for a friend of mine back home but some of the tobacco came in handy later. He also helped me find an inexpensive set of headphones that I would be able to use on the flight home, rather than those awful three dollar ear buds that Air Canada sells.
We stopped for a meal and a beer and I convinced Doug to help me get back to my Ryokan. It had a bar and we finished the night drinking and smoking some of the very strong cigarettes that I had bought. There were a lot of travellers there that night from all over the world, and one quite inebriated local who said Kurasawa was not a very intelligent director. I told him that made Kurasawa perfect for me. Doug met a young man from Malta who shared his beliefs regarding pantheism and disco's debt of gratitude to German techno-pop bands. It was a fun night.
The next morning Ange and I got up, had our last 7-11 breakfast and wandered Tokyo until it was time to go to the airport.

Time for one last meal.
I was looking forward to going home and sad to leave at the same time. 
bg_29981390380553.jpgBut mostly I was grateful for having had the opportunity to step outside my world and see something brand new; something I had almost decided I would never have the chance to see. 


bg_30001390380808.jpgI came home with a pocketful of Japanese coins, foreign ink on my passport for the first time, at least a thousand photos and a head full of memories; many that I haven't shared here but hopefully I can tell you about in person some day.

I also found a little watch, rescued it from beneath the feet of the subway passengers on the way to the airport. I didn't have the opportunity to find a 'lost and found', so I kept it. I have it still; and as long as it runs, it will be on Japan time.

Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to relive a special time. And thanks for your generous comments. I can't forget to thank Sydney for helping us plan this trip, you did a great job.

But most of all, thanks Ange!



The long commute. 


When we left Kyoto we ended up using five or six different buses or trains, including a cable car, to get us to and up the mountain to Koyasan, and a Buddhist monastary there, where we spent the night.

We met a lot of wonderful people during our stay in Japan; the designers from Mexico and the Canadian couple from Calgary, Yasuko in Hiroshima and Raphael in Kyoto to name just a few; and some we met on a train. There was a charming couple from Redding, England, that we met on the train to Hiroshima and kept bumping into while we were there; and finally, Christoph, a young (to me) German who had just finished a contract with an international think-tank and was taking a six month vacation to travel the world. He was going to another monastary in the same area as us in Koyasan. We helped each other find our transfer stations and eventually got where we were going. He has sent me some beautiful photos of his travels and if I can figure out how to share them in future blogs I will. 


A typhoon was moving onto Japan while we were travelling and it added another texture to our time there. We watched the landscape and the weather change. 











This last trolley train took us up the mountain to the town where we would be staying. By then the rain was coming down steadily.




All the train travel we did during those two weeks in Japan, and the need at the end of the day to defrag my brain, left a lot of time for reading. I ended up reading three novels and a number of short stories from 'The Oxford Book Of Japanese Short Stories'; by far the most reading I had done in that short a time in years. The novels were 'A Little Yellow Dog' by Walter Mosley (one of my favorite American crime fiction writers), which I had brought with me; and two novels that I found in a small English Used Book Store in Hiroshima. One was 'A Drink Before War' by Dennis Lehane (another hard-boiled fiction writer that I sometimes enjoy) and the other was a book that Angela had read and thought I might like; 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern. It is a romance with magical imagery and recurring symbols, especially of fire and water, that seemed to take on a personal resonance during our stay in Koyassan.

We were escorted to our room by a young monk who spoke a little English. He was ninteen years old and had been in the monastary for two years. It was a large room and luckily there was a heater in one corner as the temperature had dropped considerably.

Angela joined a medition group somewhere in the monastary and I wandered with my camera performing my own style of meditation. 







We had another simple but delicious meal, prepared and delivered by the monastary. I enjoyed an onzen bath; how I miss those. We made our beds and fell asleep to the sound of the wind ticking rain on the windows. We would be waking early.

At five a.m. we were up and dressed and down the stairs, ready for the two rituals we wanted to be part of. The first was a relatively straight forward morning prayer and I did not take pictures. But the second was a Fire Ceremony and I had to. 

I do not pretend to know how the fabric of the universe is woven, or what influence we have on its shaping. For this ceremony participants were invited to write their wishes on a stick of wood and present it to the priest to be burned in the fire. I presume that the prayers are released into the air where they can manifest their influence. I did not offer a wish but I don't judge those that did. Seeing their faces I could only imagine the trials that had brought them to this place and could only hope that any hardships they were facing could be lessened by their presence on that morning. While the fire burned, outside the rain fell.




Angela and I returned to our room, ate a healthy breakfast and dressed for the weather. We packed our bags, went down stairs, where we left our luggage, and went out to explore the area. We had read about a famous cemetary nearby. 

If you can imagine our entry from the subway tube into the glare and noise of Tokyo as a kind of birth, then it was appropriate that as our life in Japan ended we should be in a cemetary. The number of stories that must have died in that graveyard is staggering to my imagination. It seemed to go on forever.









Angela and I seperated as we entered the gates. I wandered slowly with my camera, trying to protect it from the rain, and she walked ahead to be with her own thoughts. I met a couple, around my age, who handed me their camera and asked me if I would take their picture. They were from the south-west United States and, when I told them I had always wanted to photograph that part of the world, the man took out a card and handed it to me, saying that if I ever made it down there I should give them a call. It felt wonderful to be standing in the rain, in a mountain forest in Japan, and being invited, by someone I had never met before, to visit them in the American desert.

When I realized how large the cemetary was I became afraid that I wouldn't find Angela. Suddenly, there was Christoph, the German think-tank escapee, who said he had just seen her and she was not far ahead. By the time I found her the rain was coming down hard so we found a cab and started the long trip back to Tokyo.




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