The Motomachi area of Kobe seems sleepy at first glance but it’s busting to the seams with personality. As mentioned previously, Kobe kind of lives in the shadows of its bigger neighbors, at least as far as reputations go, yet it’s still part of Kansai and pulls on the region’s penchant for abundance of character.
Motomachi in particular, where the majority of today’s photos were taken, has a fun flavor of weathered practicality which has served its residents for decades, mixed with bits of refurbished extravagance to cater to the tourists with their duty-free shopping and the young people with their trendy tastes and their loud music and their hula-hoops, aaargh!
Personally, I love coming across these areas that have sprung up out of necessity without much plan for mass-marketability or what have you; just the tangled organic spontaneity of different people with myriad interests coming together to form a living community.
Especially in spots like these lesser-known shopping corridors packed with specialty shops (I think I recall seeing a place that just sold belts!) and the alleyways behind them where there’s not much thought given to presentation, yet they bristle with little hints of forgotten life leaking through the windows and service entrances.
To bring it all back full-circle, I kind of feel like that’s what’s great about finding a good online community of shared interests. Sites like Flickr have this. While basically about photography, there’s so much you can do with that medium that you’re able to expose yourself to a wide variety, while still being able to drill down and find that relevant fraternity of like-minded souls that will actually appreciate what you do and vice-versa. And I’m going to maintain that in the mad dash for attracting shareholders, platforms like Instagram have abandoned this, choosing to focus on things like followers, likes and ‘influence’ instead of the medium that everyone is ostensibly there to expose themselves to.
Meeting the folks in this photo walk as strangers, whom we only knew as random internet-usernames, if at all (it was certainly the first time I’d met any of them) and then sharing the experience of doing what we like together was kind of a social mirror of these organic spaces we were strolling through. Different lives, different equipment, different approaches but sharing a physical space for a short period to do what we do and parting a little closer to each other somehow.
It’s not so different from how everyone shapes, and is shaped by, the cities and towns we live in. And best of all, there was nary an ill-suited hashtag in sight.