In 2011 I travelled to Kyushu, Japan to document photographer Michael Levin and his work. The end result was a short film that represented the mood and feel of a lone photographer in his element. The final result can be seen here:

In this short "bonus" film from the same trip I focused the edit on a special event that we happened to find. While driving around one day looking for a spot to eat the local market bought sushi and beer for lunch, we rolled across this park with a group of men and... birds. Curiosity got the best of us and we had to stop to see what it was all about.

What we saw was really odd... and exciting. It was a bunch of old men having a bird singing competition. The closest comparison I can think of would be playing chess in a park in NYC or dominos in Little Havana.

Each man had multiple little green birds in little wooden boxes. They would listen to the birds, play recordings of bird call from old walkmans to the birds, and eventually the birds would be put on top of a pole, one bird facing another and the singing battle would begin. To say that the men were passionate would be an understatement.

The thing about this edit is how important music can be... or how important music IS I should say. I knew from the day I shot this that I would make some sort of mini edit from it. My main priority was to complete the piece on Michael Levin of course. But once I did, I wanted to follow it up with this... new bird edit. The problem was that I couldn't find just the right song or soundtrack to fit. I wasn't in a hurry of course since it was just a bonus... But it took basically a year for me to find just the right song to motivate me to make the edit. Once I found the song I put the first rough together in one night and polished it off the next.

By the way, for those who don't know TORI means bird in Japanese. These Tori in particular are called Japanese White Eye or Mejiro(メジロ). And the practice of having these bird song tournaments was started during the Meji period(1868-1912).

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