Independence Day

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I still have a clear memory of the excitement during Indonesia Independence day ten years ago, where all people in my neighbourhood were busy preparing for so many fun activities for kids to their parents. From drawing contest, bike parade, poem contest, to other traditional ones like Panjat Pinang and Tarik Tambang. August would be the only month I look forward to throughout my elementary school year, simply because I knew how special it would be. It was the only time we simply put aside the school drama and worked together to bring home dozen of prizes.

However, these days, it is rather quiet, with just a handful of red and white decoration and the mandatory flags lining up across the street. I wonder how each of the supposed to be huge celebration (not only Independence day, but Christmas as well) became less and less meaningful every year? Could it be because we became too busy with our screen now? While thousands of message of nationalism being broadcasted across all the social media channels, I took my camera for a walk to a slum area near my neighbourhood to rekindle with the euphoria once again. Despite the environment they live in, these people keep the tradition alive, more than the rest of us do with our online persona.

Analog Journal: Tokyo part 1

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Odakyu line subway to Shimokitazawa

As someone who loves to travel, truth to be told, I never consider putting Japan on my "wish list"  mainly because of the overwhelming amount of tourists that go there. This photo assignment trip came to me by surprise and I didn't really expect it to happen. If you've been a faithful reader of my blog, you might recall a bittersweet ending to my well-planned Vietnam trip on April. To be honest, the thought of planning another trip abroad were already gone out of my radar ever since.

Long story short, I was assigned by a travel magazine to cover stories in Japan for almost two weeks and of course I said yes! During that trip, we explored Kanagawa prefecture (Odawara, Hakone, Yokohama), Aomori prefecture (Towada), and continued the journey to my first ever solo traveling experience in Tokyo for 5 days. Since both stories and photographs from the assignment will remain confidential until it gets published by the magazine, for now I'm sharing with you some photographs as well as memories from my lost-in-translation moment in Tokyo.


While scrolling through an endless good looking Airbnb in Shibuya do me no good, I decided to call Asakusa home for five days. The area is quiet and might not be your typical neighbourhood in Tokyo.  A moment that I recall the most was definitely a long, silent walk from the subway station to reach my abode while passing my favourite local supermarket to buy snacks every single night. There wasn't any rush, the main street remains silent when the clock hits 8 PM, it's an ideal neighbourhood to rest if you couldn't stand the concrete neon jungle in most of urban areas in Tokyo.

It's only a 10-minute walk to Tokyo's oldest ancient Buddhist temple, Sensoji where I started my morning very early to simply enjoy a serene atmosphere of the temple before it gets too crowded by tourist. When a group of people started to show up, I decided to munch on a cherry blossom Agemanju and dozed off!

Getting such a wonderful hospitality from my host Akiko, who spoiled me with comfort food from the moment I was getting ready to conquer the day to the last night of my journey in Tokyo was something I'll always remember close to my heart.

Elementary school in Asakusa

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

Time Alone

Upon my arrival in Tokyo, I was feeling a little homesick. The moment I stepped outside from Ueno subway line, I was greeted with a heavy rain in the midst of humid summer days while dragging around my huge luggage, it was definitely a rough start. When eating at one of the best ramen restaurants didn't help to make me feel better at all, I secretly wish I had a good friend of mine to share those good meals with.

But luckily, it didn't take long enough to make me feel recharged again. The moment I decided to spend my second day went museum-hopping, was the day I regained my energy back. I guess the best thing that can happen to you while traveling solo is when you could spend hours at your favourite places. In my case, museum and bookstore, paying attention to each of the collection without being rushed, to just live, without having to worry about time, and take it all in.

The highlight were Nezu Museum where it hosts more than 1.400 private collection of pre modern Japanese art with a wonderful garden, Sunflower at Mori Art Museum & National Art Center Tokyo which exhibited a number of great contemporary artists from Southeast Asia (some of them were Indonesian artists such as Agus Suwage, Ruang Rupa collective, and FX Harsono, I couldn't be more proud!), Tsutaya Bookstore where I spend 3 hours getting lost in their huge section of photography and literature books.

Nezu Museum Garden

A tunnel beside National Art Center Tokyo

Defining home at Sunflower exhibition

An afternoon stroll in Omotesando

Creative Act

I've always dreamed of having a neat public library here in Jakarta and couldn't be more happier when I got the chance to spend hours studying the works of Japanese renowned photographers like Shōji Ueda and Daidō Moriyama. I ended up buying a small biography of Ueda from Tsutaya bookstore filled with dreamy black and white photographs with Japanese kanji written all over it. I always tend to visit places where I can study history, art, as well as literature from a country as it broadens my perspective and leave such a lasting impression every time I go back home.


I was walking a lot during my extended trip in Tokyo and a bit worried about getting lost due to its language barrier. At first, the thought of exploring a foreign land with people that looks almost similar with some of your friends back home never crossed in my mind even at once. The fear of "what ifs" creeped into my mind a few times, but the locals managed to help me get through it. I cannot describe how polite and helpful Japanese people are, they were the kindest! When your Google Maps gave up on you, you just got to ask the locals where the directions is. That's what I did, for about four times, and without hesitation they walked together with me until I reach my destination. I mean, how can people be so generous?

I thought I'd always enjoy each moment of solitary, but only after this trip I realised that I'd still prefer to be in a good company. However, this trip really brought so much joy and learning to get to know myself better.

Getting lost in Naka Meguro


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