Havana in Japan / by Bill Frakes

Yesterday was Boxing Day. Havana and I were on the bullet train bound for Osaka. We blasted past Mount Fuji.

It seems like just yesterday when she was born. One of my favorite and most important of the more than 10 million images I've made in my career happened right after she appeared.


Now her 14th birthday is right around the corner.

We're traveling through one of the places I love most, and a land she's asked to see for more than a third of her relatively short life. It's a pleasure share with her.


She's learning again how important friends are. Our first day here two friends, Karou and Rie, took time led us through Harajuku and Roppingi Hills, giving generously of their time and consideration.

Two days ago, Christmas day, Gen broke away from work and took us through the city on an itinerary he created for Havana. He's my favorite creative director and one I've worked with on four continents over the years. Talking with him always makes me quite reflective and introspective. The twinkle in his eyes always brings a slow smile.

Watching Havana navigate a foreign land is fun. When she took her first step, I was in the room.

Her first day of school I delivered her, wide eyed and excited. John Hiatt's "Circle Back" playing premonitionly on the sound system in the car. I remember thinking that the things he referenced would all happen, I just thought it would happen slower.

Which circles back to this trip.  I'm on the road, a lot by anyone's standards. When I'm home, we go for long walks and talk about our worlds.

One of the people I turn to regularly for advice counsels me that my world is vast — as is her’s — and that changes perspective, and that I especially need to pay attention to that while I am working and teaching.

I've always been on the road — I was 14 the first time I visited Europe and the Middle East. Pretty exotic for a kid from rural Nebraska.  I was hooked immediately.

Havana got a much earlier start, and I think she'll be on the move for a long time too. She was on planes regularly hopscotching the country before she started preschool. She's spent time in Paris, Zurich, Istanbul and Tokyo. She speaks regularly with friends living in Europe.  I envy her future.


I learn a lot about communicating from her.

It helps me refine my message — something that's fairly critical to a storyteller.

Directly and indirectly we talk about what's important information and what's not.  How delivery is key.  Fast is crucial. Directness is extremely important. Subtly not so much.

She's an analog girl connected digitally to the world. She reads 1,000's of pages a week of properly printed materials, makes her own greeting and holiday cards with ink and paper, and yet she lives attached to her electronic umbilical cord — her iPhone is never far from her grasp.


It's that combination of near and far, new and old, fast and slow that I'm reaching for.