[Note: This was originally written on January 1st. I forgot about it and noticed it in my drafts box a few days ago. It’s much too late for it to be relevant now, but I thought I might as well post it anyways.]
It’s 6:20am after a sleepless night when I walk to the bus stop. Some kids, probably heading home after an all-nighter, sit huddled together, hoods up, heads down, in the bus stop. The first light of dawn has not yet appeared on the black horizon when I climb on an empty bus, number 127, headed for the sea. I can feel my lack of sleep like a burning behind my eyes. I put on my headphones and Bob Dylan mumbles a melody as the empty streets pass by outside.
Forty-five minutes later I arrive at the coast. The streets are busier there. Everyone is heading in the same direction, towards the beach as the sky slowly brightens. It’s a steady stream of young couples and young families making their way to the water, while here and there a few partiers leftover from the previous night’s drinking who decided to hang around for the sunrise start emerging from dark drinking holes and karaoke bars.
Back home, no one would be up at this hour on a holiday, especially not young folks and especially not on the first day of the year.
I walk around the lip of the rounded beach to a spot facing southeast, where I hope to catch the sun directly as it comes up over the water. Everyone stands there silently, rocking back and forth trying to shake the early morning chill, cameras and phones in hand, at the ready, watching the horizon.
Everything falls still and then abruptly the sun reveals itself to a chorus of mild gasps and the sound of a thousand camera shutters. At first a sliver of red hovering over the sea, what looks like a coastguard cutter briefly piggybacks the sun as it slides across the horizon. It grows quickly into a globe, hanging there like the red of the Japanese flag while out in the bay a group of swimmers in dry-suits dive into the frigid water from a warning beacon and start the long swim to the beach.
I linger for a while enjoying the first rays of light of a new year and then as the sun begins to get too high and it becomes just another day I head back up the beach, grab a coffee and jump on the bus, heading home with a nice bit of optimism for the year 2013.
Click ahead to see a few more shots from that morning.