Scenes from the Slopes
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Onward and Upward -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/1600 sec, f/4.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Onward and Upward

As I wrote the other day, Anthony went skiing for the first time this weekend. In between taking 500+ photos of him and his YMCA friends, I took the occasional generic ski-slope shot....

Anticipation -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 52 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Anticipation
Hitchin' a Ride -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/400 sec, f/16, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Hitchin' a Ride
Round Trip -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/2000 sec, f/4.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Round Trip
Random Play -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/400 sec, f/14, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Random Play
Hero -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/640 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Hero

Imagine that you're at a table in a library and the person next to you gets your attention, indicates that your pencil has rolled a bit over into their space, and kindly pushes it back toward you. You might mumble a word of thanks, take your pencil, and not give it further thought because it's a trivial matter not worthy of further thought. Okay, so remember that level of concern (or, in this case, lack of concern) as I tell a short story...

So, I was snappin' shots of Anthony and friends like film was free, and from behind I heard a crying that, as a parent, well.... I knew needed my attention. I found a young boy wandering around alone, crying, searching for his parents. He eventually said he was three years old, but it must have been just barely... he was young.

The kid says he wants to find his parents by himself, so he resists taking my hand to go look together. I'm faced with a dilemma: do I respect his three-year-old wishes, or do I force myself upon the situation and take his hand against his will? Remember, I'm a “big scary strange guy” (in adult terms, “foreigner”). I don't care what the kid thinks, but if I force the issue and his folks walk up at the right moment, it would look as if I was trying to abduct the kid. Leaving the kid to fend for himself is not an option, but how I appear to others as I interact with him is certainly on my mind.

The kid is wandering around the most crowded area in the whole place – in and among the lines for the lift, where no kid his age should be – and instead of raising the concern of those in line, he raises their irritation. (The lines of the lift were literally longer than the lift itself, so it's not like I can blame them that much.) But as I'm trying to talk to the little boy who is consistently trying to walk away, one young man, pictured above, stepped out of line to help. I quickly explain the situation, he runs to dump his skis somewhere, and returns, all the while the throng of skiers in line pulses forward.

He tries talking to the little boy, but gets the same result I did. We consult on what to do, and decide to just bring the boy – kicking and screaming if need be – to ski patrol. On the way we learn his age and name, and so by the time we get to ski patrol we've got enough info for them to make an announcement.

More or less, they didn't care. “The parents never listen to the announcements... they never listen”. Well, as a parent, I can tell you that if my child was missing, I'd be ALL EARS, so I pushed that they make an announcement. Task completed, the young helper disappears, but returns a minute later having somehow found the kid's dad.

Recall, now, the lack of concern and absent-minded muttered words of thanks I described before... that's how this dad was. Sure, probability is high that someone would find the kid and take care of him before he fell off a cliff or froze to death behind a snowbank, so it's not like we saved his life or anything, but geez, this dad showed no appreciation. He just muttered a half-hearted thanks as he went to fetch his kid.

Sigh.

I thanked the young helper (he must have been about 14 or so), snapped his picture, and returned to Anthony and his friends.

Solitude ( it's just an illusion; the place was packed ) -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/2500 sec, f/4.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Solitude
( it's just an illusion; the place was packed )
Preschool Skis -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/1250 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Preschool Skis
And On A Completely Different Note... -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/8000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
And On A Completely Different Note...
Exit Stage Left -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/640 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Exit Stage Left
Heading Home gondola to the parking lot -- Hakodateyama Ski -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/2000 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Home
gondola to the parking lot

All 6 comments so far, oldest first...

Loving “Hitchin’ a Ride”.

— comment by domipix on February 14th, 2009 at 2:16am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

In the late 1980s, I noticed what westerners might regard as benign neglect amongst Japanese parents in my Fukui neighborhood. I posited that it was based on the low crime rate in Japan, and also the fact that most people apparently lived in the same place their entire lives. This seemed to result in an ACTUAL village raising children, i.e., a lot of older children as well as adult eyes on little ones.

But, two incidences have rattled me. When I visited India in 1986, two Japanese tourist children were stolen from right outside the hotel where they were staying with their parents. It broke my heart, because I knew no one would ever see those children again and I shuddered to think what might become of them. Of course, I also wondered, as most western parents would, “What were their parents THINKING letting them play alone outside on the street in a strange country?!”

Then, in the early 1990s, after I’d moved back to California, one of my dearest Japanese friends came to visit me with a large party consisting of her family and friends. We met to have lunch in the Wharf area. I told her, “San Francisco is not like Japan, you have to keep a close eye on your little girls,” and, “Children get stolen here.” She utterly ignored me, and her two small girls repeatedly ran off, way out of sight and hearing. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. The adults in the party were completely oblivious.

On the one hand, western parents tend to spend a lot time watching, wondering and worrying about their children’s safety because children ARE less safe in the west. Japanese parents don’t appear to do these things, or perhaps to a much lesser degree. For the most part, the behavior of each group matches their environment. (Although the same Japanese friend and mother told me about a serial child murderer in Japan…) The disconnect comes when parents do not seem to act APPROPRIATELY = as WE act. But our parenting “style” is based in different histories, different cultures, personal experience, and perhaps something as basic as they number of guns in private hands in Japan vs. in most western countries.

I am most sad to say that the likelihood is that the number of western children who are harmed will continue to out pace Japan, despite the vigilance of their parents because of the differences mentioned above.

I wouldn’t have been worried for a child’s safety in this respect in the ski situation…. the only exit from the ski area involved a long, slow gondola ride. Nature (snow to freeze in, cliffs to fall from), on the other hand, is a great equalizer, and children could be dearly punished for their parents’ inattention. But if nothing, common sense in this society would have the parent apologizing profusely for the trouble their lost child had caused others. I feel sorry for the kid to have a parent like that. —Jeffrey

— comment by Cheryl K. on February 14th, 2009 at 3:57am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Jeff, this reminds me of another incident in which you discovered that wallet in the hedge at the airport in Tokyo. It had, as I recall, many millions of yen inside, tickets and other identification. You knew someone was beyond frantic at losing it, and when you turned it into the airline counter mentioned on the ticket, you just got a mumbled disinterested “Thanks”. Too bad you were never able to discover whether it actually got back to it’s owner.

That was Seoul and the millions were Korean wan. I wonder what happened to it. —Jeffy

— comment by Grandma Friedl on February 14th, 2009 at 4:50am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Magnificent photographs. Think of your childhood; did you have the opportunity to try to ski in such magnificent surroundings?

Now as to the lost child different a parenting technique is in place. Suspect your background has much to do with your concern; your son is different as he is a result of a union between a Japanese lady and a North American gentleman. And as such child-rearing from both cultures might clash.

Fear not though, you’re a good Dad, and to lose a child of your own would be heart-breaking.

Best keep your child on a short leash, and as to the three year old and the perhaps fourteen year old Ski Patrol teen, maybe think of what might have happened, otherwise. Scary eh?

You may well be able to contact said objects and results of your search with the photographs of that day in hand… It may well be an exercise in frustration however perhaps try?

— comment by Bryce Lee (not Asian) on February 14th, 2009 at 6:42am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

The “Hitchin’ a Ride” is very interesting shot, what with all the empty & occupied lift chairs. It reminded me of a page from a stamp (collection) book. The red spot (near top center), however, stands out like a sore (if looked closely, so I won’t (anymore)).

What red spot? (Just joking… you’re right, so I went ahead an removed it in Lightroom! 🙂 ) —Jeffrey

— comment by parv on February 14th, 2009 at 3:06pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I can’t explain the dad’s nonchalance at losing his kid, but I have noticed that people in Japan just don’t care as much about strangers as people in the States. This is of course a gross generalization, and there are exceptions on either side, but the more time I spend in Japan the more evidence I see for a complete lack of concern for anyone who is not mi-uchi, or “one of your own.”

The way I think of it is, if in the States one out of 10 people would stop to help a lost child, in Japan that number is one out of 100. Or 1,000.

— comment by Zachary on February 16th, 2009 at 12:16pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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