This was pretty much the last adventure before Covid shook up the world. I’ve been to Japan about ten times, but this time I was determined to go as far north into the fantasy-like snowy mountains and villages. When you get further away from Tokyo, English signs and speaking is almost non-existent. So, navigating the subways and trains is one thing, but the Japanese bus system is another beast altogether. Anyway, I had to figure out how to get here to Shirakawago. I finally got off the bus and started to hike into this village and this is what I saw. I didn’t know where I was gonna stay for the night, so I kind of knocked around on different doors to see if anyone had a room. I ended up staying in one of those adorable little farmhouses you can see in the back.
What a crazy couple of days! Those of you who read the last newsletter or some recent posts will know that I launched a new collection of NFTs on OpenSea this past Tuesday. It’s my fourth drop overall after some experimentation previously on Foundation, MakersPlace and another on OpenSea. They were all great learning experiences (and exceeded expectations) and this week was no different.
The short version is that in 2 days, split over the 50 Cities/NFTs in the collection, over $1million USD was processed. My thanks to any of you who got involved, it’s really incredible and we are full of gratitude. Today, along with there being some items still available on the first and secondary markets, there are 4 auctions ending (LA, Moscow, Tokyo and Paris) if you want to get involved in the fun.
As I’ve mentioned in previous mails, I think NFTs are certainly something artists and collectors should be getting involved with now. The potential is huge, and I think it will be a big part of the art world in the future. That, along with giving back to other artists, is why I’m now investing in other NFT projects. I know it can be a bit daunting though, so I’ll be producing a bunch of how-to videos and recaps of my experience so far for Passport Subscribers. There are already 3 or 4 available which can be viewed after signing up ($9.99 a month, cancel any time, and on top of those NFT videos you get access to all of my tutorials to stream, preset downloads, eBooks and a weekly video which can be anything from processing tips to behind the scenes of helicopter rides in 360.). Once you’re in there, check this page for quick links to the previous NFT videos.
In terms of getting yourself involved in this drop… it’s fairly simple. You’ll need an electronic wallet (MetaMask is one that works with most NFT sites, others are available so definitely read some comparison articles). You’ll also want a way to get Crypto in/out from the “real world” and services like Coinbase are used for that (again, there are alternatives so do a bit of reading to see what’s best for you). If you’ve got questions, drop into my new Discord collectors group where there are a bunch of awesome, friendly people who will be happy to help. Feel free to join and just lurk or chat too as you ease yourself into this wild new world as a collector or creator.
*On re-reading this I just realised I automatically #’d NFT… too much posting on Crypto Twitter. Time to go take a solo lockdown walk…
I’m usually too busy in these cities to go for a swim, since I’m running around with my hair on fire taking photos. I often think, gee willickers, I should really have a swim and a relax. But I almost never do! If I have a little extra time, I try to hit the gym, which I enjoy more than swimming. Now that I think about it, I don’t really like swimming much at all. But I do like playing in the pool with my kids!
If you get lost in Tokyo around the Shinjuku area, then you’re likely to find all sorts of little alleyways like this. Even the alleys in Japan are great! It’s always a toss-up as to which place I want to eat… they are all so good. I was considering taking up professional eating so I could train to consume more before next visiting.
Here’s a clip from the recent Joe Rogan podcast with Michael Pollan about his new book called “The is Your Brain on Plants.” Back when I named the new company “Machine Elf” it was a super niche word only known to a few that have ever seen them or at least heard about them. Anyone out there know Rogan or Pollan? I’d love for them to see some of our Machine Elf creations at https://the-machine-elf.com/ Oh, and be sure to check out the full podcast on Spotify, it’s always a good watch/listen.
Daily Photo – Midnight Through 1,000 Gates
If you’re ever in Kyoto, be sure to come adventure around this gate area at night. It’s pretty busy during the day, but at night it’s almost empty. It’s also a great time to pick up Japanese girls, if you are into that. I’m not into that at all. They can be very distracting while you are trying to take photos.
This was like a little Japanese Anime show made real! I ended up at this cool blacksmith’s place in Osaka where this guy was making Japanese knives and swords in the traditional manner. I almost bought one, but I wasn’t sure how I could take a sword home on the plane. Maybe I should have just gotten one and had it shipped down. Yes, that makes a lot more sense to me now.
Here’s one of the first photos I took with my Hasselblad camera when I got to Tokyo. This is kind of a weird thing to like about that machine: the aspect ratio. I mean, it’s not that big of a deal because I can always crop them any way I want. I guess there is just sort of a different feeling when looking through the viewfinder and looking at that 3:2 aspect that gives me a slightly different experience. Hard to explain.
Dr. Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., is a professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, and behavioral science and director of the Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is the author of over 400 scientific research publications and has trained more than 50 postdoctoral research fellows. He has been a consultant to the National Institutes of Health and numerous pharmaceutical companies in the development of new psychotropic drugs.
Dr. Roland Griffiths and I discuss the research with John Hopkins University. We spoke about how he got into psychedelics and convinced ethic committees to approve such research, why he chose the scientific path, specifics about his studies with psilocybin, transformations of cancer patients with family members, the impact of psilocybin in existing institutions, the ongoing studies he is performing with long-time meditators and religious leaders, how the integration of psilocybin into society may look and more.
Daily Photo – Red Gates in Kyoto in the Evening
The best time (for me) to visit these red gates is around sunset and into the evening. It’s open all the time, but there are hardly any tourists there at night. It’s great to walk around the 1,000+ gates and find different compositions and different sorts of lights… It makes me think of all the Japanese anime shows I’ve ever seen for some reason.
Here’s a random scene from Shinjuku, one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in Tokyo. You’ll see all sorts of random things happening here. And you can’t ever go wrong with visiting a random food place, where everything is tasty… these random food guys always know when it’s right to arrive.