Carpy Diem


Our visit to Japan has not been highly choreographed or scheduled. Much of my time has been been spent as an exercise in being present, of hoping to be presented with who-knows-what, by whatever presence.

I seized a brief but free moment during a family visit to the Ueno Zoo and stepped out onto a small dock at the edge of one of the park’s ponds.

Movement in the dockside water caught my eye.

And my movement caught the eye of somebodies other…


Carp at dockside, Ueno Zoological Garden Pond, Tokyo, Japan.

The fish looked at me.

I looked at the fish.


School of carp. Schooling me. 


No fools, these fish.

I’m sure they were looking for a handout.


Fish from Above. 

It seemed certain that humans had fed them many times before.

Their mouths were open and ready for opportunity.


Such distinctive creature features: fins, mouths, eyes, nostrils, barbels… 


There was more than simple appetite here.


Watching and waiting. 

At times in my life I have seen Japanese brush paintings of carp.

I often thought…”What a funny way to draw a fish…”

But on seeing these creatures, I had one of those moments when understanding improves.

Watching their appearance, their movements, their shapes as they rose and sank in the murky zoo pond water, I realized that the paintings I’d seen in the past were not just some funny oriental way of making a fish picture, but were instead depictions of great accuracy and style, and were likely the product of hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of careful observation and thought.


Carp. Ueno Zoological Gardens. Tokyo, Japan. 

Thanks, carp, for sharing a few moments of your time.





One response to “Carpy Diem

  1. Really enjoyed your Japanese pics. So good to see the Japan where real people live and not just temples and gardens, pretty as they are.

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