Exhaustion had gotten a hold of us in the afternoon the first day off on a long work week and nonstop traveling. My wife and I had just checked in our luggage for an overnight stay in Nagano and “he” jumped us by hiding in our room. He tossed our luggage onto the floor, and tied us to the bed, forcing me to remain completely still. Exhaustion would have held us for ransom for the next 10 hours, but he was not only the only one who wanted us that evening. Hunger too wanted a piece of us. These two don’t get along. And in this battle, it won over Exhaustion. Exhaustion slinked his way out of the room, cursing at the three of us, vowing to return.
We weren’t necessarily saved by Hunger. Disheveled, and still needing of a good shower, we were dragged off the bed. He took a serrated knife to our stomach and rattled it around threatening that if we didn’t follow him, the pain would only get worse. My wife and I knew there was no use trying to outrun him- everybody’s been taken hostage at some point. We cooperatively took the ten minute walk in the snow towards the bus station.
It was still daylight out, still early, and I tried to hold out longer by visiting Zenkoji temple. After wandering for just over an hour, the sun started to go down and it reminded me that Hunger would be here only as long as he needed to be. In order to wake up early the next day, I would soon have to get back to face Exhaustion again. The bus continued to drive down the main street, and we tried to choose the most appealing one solely by the pictures outside. Our indecision and disagreements kept us on the bus for another 10 minutes, and my captor kept pressing the knife harder into our stomachs. We decided to hop off the bus and decide on the best looking restaurant that we could see from where we were standing.
Sensor: Canon 6D
Location: Nagano, Japan
I took the above shot at ISO 100, 24mm, f10, 30sec. The 30 second exposure made almost everybody “disappear.” You can see the remnants in the crowd far off in the distance.
In the restaurant, Hunger didn’t have to use the stick any longer, just the carrot. He was a good-natured fellow, drinking beers, smoking cigarettes, and slurping down noodles. He was after all, in his element, like a mafia soldier in his brother’s club. But as expected, once he had his fill, he abruptly walked out – leaving us with the bill, all alone.
Feeling naked and vulnerable again, we made our way outside the restaurant, expecting Exhaustion waiting of us there. As we stepped outside however, the scene was vastly different from the one that we had just left a couple of hours ago. The whole street was filled with lit up lanterns. People were scattered all around them, zigzagging their way through this matrix of light emanating a warm yellow glow. Each lantern had a silhouette on it – different people, places, animals, covered each one. It would have taken till the next morning to see all of them. We had walked into the Nagano Lantern Festival. It was something that was not expected, and I think it took Exhaustion by surprise too, for he was nowhere to be found. My wife and I, empowered with bravado and the feeling that we had beaten Exhaustion, took advantage of this reprieve. Just like in the movies we thought we could hide ourselves in this parade of light. He could never find us here.
Afterwards we walked further down the street, finally getting to the end of the lantern display. There we encountered the students who must have been the ones to set up the whole thing. They were still organizing many other lanterns that had on them. We also briefly stopped into a coffee house where people were sipping their hot drinks listening to classical music. But everybody’s attention was to the center of the room watching a barefooted painter create his next piece of art.
However time and complacency go hand in hand. And just like in the movies, one knows what happens when the care free couple walks out into the middle of an empty street at night. They run into trouble. Exhaustion, seeing that we were alone in the middle of the night, pressed his advantage and denied us a bus to take us back for another 30 minutes. He clearly is not one to mess with.
Sensor: Canon 6D
Location: Nagano, Japan
However he did give us one more opportunity to see a psychedelic painting at the end of the day.
One can never beat Exhaustion and Hunger, but everyone once in a while you can take a back seat on enjoy the drama they lead you to.