Walking Nagoya, Street Photography, The Benefits of Cycling Into a Wall

A man walks the illuminated streets of Nagoya at dusk. Neon lights everywhere.

In 2014, a few months before quitting alcohol I hit a deep pothole while cycling and rode straight into a concrete wall at around 30kph, fracturing both wrists and my right elbow.

It wasn’t serious but it certainly changed my life.

It meant I couldn’t ride for a couple of months which drove me crazy, but once I‘d recovered I went on a cycling binge that lasted until mid-2019. I’d go bike-packing in the mountains, pedal ridiculously long distances (230kms single rides or 1000kms every month for at least three years in a row), and getting my next riding fix was always on my mind. Everything revolved around cycling. Five years solid without any major interruptions or lack in enthusiasm. Eventually that came to an end and I switched to hiking and walking.

  • A woman and son outside Nagoya Kintetsu station and a tree.

Pre-accident I would cycle two or three times a week but also spend a lot of time with my camera strolling the streets of central Nagoya. During daylight hours I just wandered, but in the evening I’d mix it up and hop from bar to bar, or convenience store to convenience store buying the odd can or three of Ebisu beer. I often drank too much. But after the accident Nagoya-based street photography disappeared into the shadows and then one day I woke up and decided enough was enough. I never wanted to drink alcohol again.

Fast-forward to winter 2022/23.

Last December, inspired by Craig Mod’s TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO I decided to return to Nagoya specifically to take photos for the first time possibly since that minor accident. I took two trips early morning catching the first train and last weekend walked early evening from Nagoya to Chikusa stations photographing along the way.

The evening walk brought back memories of those alcohol fuelled evenings from the pre-accident days.

The scars remain. The wounds haven’t healed (and occasionally my elbow makes a strange noise). I avoid concrete walls and alcohol like the plague.

  • A big orange shovel car with a man walking past and a restaurant with a massive neon sign of a pig dressed as a sumo wrestler. A man on his bicycle in front of it.

Last weekend was supposed to be spent revisiting a section of the Kisoji but family had other plans. In hindsight though I’m glad I walked around Nagoya instead. It was only a short walk – 2 hours/6 kilometres – but it taught me a lot.

It taught me, among other things, the following:

  • I’m not a city person. I”d rather be alone in the mountains or countryside than in a city surrounded by people, commerce, and bright lights. In fact, the lights and the commerce were so overwhelming I immediately wanted to leave and had to force myself to stay. I knew this already, but two hours walking helped confirm it.
  • That street photography in general isn’t for me (so I don’t need that expensive Leica Q2 after all). Early mornings being the only exception to this.
  • That those blurry nights years ago have had a longer lasting effect than I initially thought, but looking back I am grateful that I put a stop to it all and chose a different path. Life is much better now.

  • Nagoya TV Tower and a neon illuminated red church cross at night.

Will I go back to central Nagoya in the evenings again?

Of course. I like some of the photos I took and Nagoya isn’t/wasn’t the problem.

The problem was me. And alcohol.

But at this stage of my life it’s the mountains, the countryside, along muddy river banks searching for birds or other wildlife, or in the middle of nowhere that I’d rather be.

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