I recently went on a business trip to Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. I was attending the ISO standards meeting for Technical Committee 42, Photography. Sapporo is a lovely city – it has the cleanliness and efficiency of Tokyo, without the overwhelming crush of people. And everywhere people are friendly and willing to help you as a non-Japanese speaker.
In the centre of the city is Odori Park, a long-thin block-wide park which runs east-west for a dozen or so city blocks. I was staying very near the park, and in my spare time it was the obvious place to go to enjoy the ambience of the city. The park was full of people… simply enjoying the cool early summer. There were many people just having picnics, sitting on the grass and chatting, or playing frisbee, skateboarding, enjoying ice cream cones, or playing music.
I spotted this group of three people simply sitting on a bench and playing drums, looking like they were having a fantastic time. They played for several minutes as I wandered around, and I kept being drawn back to them to listen and absorb their evident joie de vivre. I walked off, intending to leave the area, but was suddenly struck and inspired to go back and ask them if I could take a photo.
They were still drumming, and I held up my camera and smiled at them, gesturing what I wanted to do. They smiled back and nodded at me. I stepped in close and took this picture. I showed it to them on the back of the camera, and they laughed appreciatively, never stopping their drumming the whole time. I said, “arigato gozaimasu”, and continued on my way.