The Daily Tofu

A place for art, culture, history, and creation

Travel: The Capital City of Juneau, Alaska

TravelTrey Takahashi1 Comment

A view of part of the capital city of Juneau, Alaska. Photo: Trey Takahashi

The main stretch of road connecting the port with the central parts of town. The 'tourist' downtown. Photo: Trey Takahashi

There have been many places that I have traveled to, which have taken me through the great wildernesses in North America, urban metropolises in Europe, and bustling spaces in Southeast Asia; however, despite all these places nothing has truly come close to rivaling the natural beauty of Alaska. It stands as an untamed wilderness in time when so much of the world has already been explored. In every part of the state to visit, including the famed inside passage, there is a profound beauty that leaves any onlooker entirely breathless. As the famed survivalist Les Stroud once said, Alaska offers landscapes so captivating that you can point a camera anywhere and get an excellent shot.

Sailing in from the Inside Passage along the southern stretch of the remote state, we sailed into the capital city: Juneau. At the base of the Robert’s mountain and placed on two sides of a small channel, the city itself stands in isolation surrounded by mountainous terrain or the ocean seas. An “island” city by all accounts, with no roads leading in or out of the entire city leaving it in isolated without land connections. Despite being tucked away and split among the little available land at the base of the mountains and the channel area, Juneau is one of the largest cities in America covering 3,255 square miles (approx. 540 of those are water). And while the city itself is not densely populated, it is home to just over 30,000 people, making it second to Anchorage in population.

Stepping off the docs and into the city it is immediately clear that Juneau has heritage. The mountains that it sits at the base of were host to booming mines in the early days of the territories history, having been mined and settled by Europeans and Americans with help from the local Tlingit tribes. Aside from the dense downtown area which remains populated with many seasonal tourists shops (to which many locals are not too keen on), there is a bit of historic charm in the city. Old government offices remain landmarks to see, and there are of course many historic buildings and saloons scattered about the city for those who are truly looking for them. When I entered the city, as I always usually do, I simply walked past the tourist district and moved right into the heart of the city itself, exploring all the different things that the place could offer that remains off the beaten path. Often moving by foot to slowly appreciate what there is in the area, Juneau was a town of homeliness and honesty. People were friendly and the town seemed to be one of local pride. With obvious reason, outside of work in the outdoors, mining, or government most of the remaining jobs are seasonal work for tourism. That is—the old bread of people have a unique connection to their little island city.

The gondola takes you from the tourist downtown district up to the dense woods of Mt. Roberts. Photo: Trey Takahashi

One of the first destinations, as touristy as it may be, was to venture up to the top of the sounding mountains via gondola lift that takes you right up to Mt. Roberts, high into the thick mist that covers her peak. Almost as if out of a fairy tale, the whole place seems to come together in some spectacular way. Lush green trees, accompanied by thick fog, and of course glaciers to drive the view home. Of course, one of the things that makes Alaska so beautiful is the amount of precipitation the region gets, providing the perfect cloud cover and ideal conditions for brilliant colors to simply pop out and grab you. Juneau like much the inside passage and the Pacific Northwest is home to a large rainforest which brings about 60 inches of rain a year with rain trickling down for 230 days in a calendar year.

After some long hikes to see the lush landscapes and breathtaking beauty of the wilderness surrounding the city, it was time to head into the heart once more to explore some of her other offerings. I headed down, though this time by bus rather than gondola, and pressed into the city. Having studied history the first item on the list that was a ‘must see’ was the Alaska State Museum. As with any other capital city in the United States, there is a desire to ensure that every one is explored, just to see the unique perspectives about the statehood of any particular state (especially the more contemporary ones).

While the museum is not the largest, the displays it has to offer are extraordinary. 

 Unsurprisingly the state museum was small and quaint. A friendly host of older volunteers greeted us before taking our fares and pointing us to a little area to stow away bags, boots, and rain jackets before heading off into the museum itself. It stretched two stories following the standard narrative of the ancient history of the area, indigenous people, European settlements, and then of course the whole US purchase and subsequent statehood situation. With a host of impressive artifacts including a lens from a lighthouse and a complete eagle nest, the museum was well worth the several hours inside, and consumed the bulk of the day.

Now tired, and calling for a much deserved break we headed out of the state museum and back into the cool summer air. The sun beginning to set, with the city lights slowly beginning to flick on. Rain beginning to fall quite heavily, we made back through the suburbs before heading to our room for the night. Usually travelling on an empty stomach, we often found ourselves eating only when the time called for it after hunger really set in at the end of the day. And after an exhausting day the pains were growing deep inside my gut wanting to rip me apart.

My companions and I passed through several neighborhood blocks before finding ourselves looking at a very odd site. Hidden behind several buildings was a colorful little building with a sign that read the Silverbow Bakery and Inn. Decorated to the brim with welcoming artifacts and your stereotypical ‘local coffee shop’ décor, we glossed over the menu, placed orders for a few veggie beagle sandwiches and some much deserved coffee, and took a seat. Finally, a bit of rest in the legs and mind. We slowly ate and talked over coffee, watching the sun slowly fall and darkness come over the windows. This was a lovely city in the heart of one of the most beautiful places in the world. While the window to see this magnificent place was short, it remains a destination that an adventurous spirit could spend a week or more exploring all that the city has to offer. But for just one day? I think we did alright.

A view from Mt. Roberts. This place is spectacular. Photo: Trey Takahashi

The Weekly Photo Scavenger Hunt: Week 7 - Vintage Life

Photo Scavenger HuntTrey TakahashiComment

Photo: Trey Takahashi

Tomorrow summer will officially draw to a close as we welcome in fall and the wonderful new season. Along with that submissions for Week 6's Photo Scavenger hunt are in! Lots of interesting shots from a few different people, check out their submissions at the bottom of this page.

Now with Pumpkin Spice Latte running through our veins, this week are we are going to kick it up in a stereotypical (but not really) hipster fashion and focus on the theme: Vintage Life. Bust out those old type writers, hit up those authentic diners, and rev up your aging care. Here are this weeks topics:

  1. Cruising Classic Cars
  2. An Aging Work-space
  3. Re-found Fashion
  4. New People; Old Places
  5. Aging Analog of Film Pictures (A shot done on a film camera)  

*Be sure to include any information about your photos and a name for citation of your work!

And don't forget to check back next week to see all the submissions for this Photo Scavenger Hunt

1. Summer fun in the sun

2. Tantalizing treats of summer

Sensational sunset

Summer in the city

Dress with less; styles of summer

Thanks again for all the amazing submissions from:

Adrienne Davis (@oddvocadoe)

Celene Barrera (@celenebeats)

Allison Launay (@ally_scared)

Trey Takahashi (@tofutakahashi)

Please check out the artists cited above, and feel free to submit your work or any ideas for future Photo Scavenger hunts here.

Click here to check out all previous Photo Scavenger Hunts and submissions!

Opinion: What is a "Gamer?"

OpinionTrey TakahashiComment
Image: Haley Rae

Image: Haley Rae

I play video games. I play a lot of video games. Most days I will find myself playing video games by myself, or more often than not with friends. Sometimes it will be a quick game for a few minutes to unwind; some weekends it can be an entire day to the activity. On the busiest days running around taking care of errands and exchanging my time for a bit of cash, I could be spending a few moments of downtime playing a mobile game of sorts. Most weekends there are hours dedicated to spending time with close friends playing grand tabletop strategy games, or during the winter the occasional scary game in a dimly lit room. Some of my closes friends I met playing video games online; and last year I even found myself in attendance of the very first Playstation Experience convention. Despite all of this however, I do not consider myself a gamer.

Wait, what?         

Before I jump into explanations, let’s first jump into the heart of the issue. What exactly is a gamer? The term has existed for decades, describing those who simply play video games on some level. From individuals who dedicate their time to learn, collect, and complete games in their entirety to those who simply play casually in their downtime. Admittedly, that is quite an ambiguous term, one that strings together people from all lifestyles because they share one thing in common: they play video games. There have been numerous studies over the past few years that have provided an insight on who gamers are (as a whole). One particularly robust poll performed by the Entertainment Software Association (PDF link) found the average “gamer” to be 31 years old, and nearly equally split between genders (52% male versus 48% female).[1] Even women who play video games over the age of 50 have been increasing dramatically year after year.[2]  Taking this into account, playing video games is something that is becoming increasingly more popular and accessible to anyone of all ages. In a spread across the board most people from the millennials to generation x can agree: most people play video games.

Back in the earliest days of video games, looking back into the late 1970s and into the 1980s, accessibility to video games was low. The first Atari home game system the Atari 2600 (originally Atari Video Computer System), often regarded as one of the first home consoles, retailed for $199.99 in 1977—a whopping $786.48 in 2015 with inflation.[3] Video games were expensive, just as were computers during the same period. Rather than being introduced to video games at home, many people would flock to arcades to play the latest and greatest offerings when home video game ownership was low. With lower numbers of people playing video games as a hobby, let alone regularly, the term gamer could easily be used to describe those who have a genuine passion for playing video games. Those who are dedicated either to the craft, making a name a serious enthusiast or as someone who frequently plays to pass time as a hobby. Both of these groups I would argue find themselves involved in a restively niche culture at the time. But that era has died—

Rather than having limited access, a study in 2000 found that 67% of homes with children have at least one video game console of some kind.[4] With the rise of personal computers as an essential device in every household, that number can only have ballooned in the last 15 years. Add the fact that nearly every cell phone has some basic form of video game loaded onto it, and that there are approximately 6.9 billion mobile phone owners worldwide (that’s 96% percent of the world’s population).[5] Add in the fact that in Europe and the United States there are more phone owners then there are people makes an argument to accessibility a moot point.[6] Accessibility and availability of technology has fundamentally changed the world around us, and with that the idea of terms to describes groups needs to shift with it. Calling someone a gamer in the 21st century is like calling someone a reader—most people do it and it really does not hold significance anymore.

It is not just in the realm of video games where the core of this argument lies. What about other once limited trades that now are available to everyone? In one period the idea of being a photographer came a great dedication to an art. Dedication to understanding light, optics, and chemistry was essential, and the process itself was incredibly time consuming, delicate, and of course expensive. With the rise of digital cameras and free photo editing software, everyone with a smartphone or point and shoot camera can call themselves a photographer—so what about those who practice the older chemical processes involved? What distinguishes those who just take pictures to true enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals?

There are new terms on the horizon, ‘casual gamer,’ ‘hardcore gamer,’ and of course, ‘pro gamer’ which are helping to distinguish different groups of people who fall into different categories. The people who play video games on the side and just use them to unwind might fall into the designation of a ‘casual gamer’ whereas the more dedicated and skilled gamers might be better described as ‘hardcore’ or ‘professional’ depending on what they are competing with their skills. However, I still have a problem with this designation. It still fails to ascribe those who are dedicated toward gaming culture, those who are fully immersed and actively follow news and events in the industry. What about those who are in love with the culture and have memorabilia scattered about? What separates a casual game player who follows the news and loves the culture from the casual gamer who plays solitaire and Tetris on their mobile device? This is where the use of gamer to describe someone falls short. There are many of us who play games; there are many of us who are not gamers.

I play video games; I am not a gamer. I do not watch E3 Convention broadcasts. I do not follow or pre-order games with gross excitement. I do not follow all of the new events in the industry. I do not buy into fandom or watch fan made videos or buy game related merchandise. I play countless hours of video games a year because I find them to be relaxing, a great social pastime, something that I greatly enjoy as most people around the world do too. Those who have an unfettered passion and love for video games; those that partake in the culture surrounding it; all those who genuinely make video games part of their lives. Let them have the term ‘gamer.’ Let the term have meaning, let it carry more weight and be something that people can own. Let us give the term back and understand what it really means to be a ‘gamer.’

  1. “Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry: 2014 Sales, Demographic, and Usage Data,” Entertainment Software Association (April 2014),
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Atari History: 1972-1984,”
  4. Kaveri Subrahamanyam et al., “The Impact of Home Computer Use on Children’s Activities and Development,” Children and Computer Technology 10, no. 2 (fall/winter 2000)
  5. “Global Mobile Statistics 2014 Part A: Mobile Subscribers; Handset Market Share; Mobile Operators,” MobiThinking (May 2014),
  6. Ibid.

The Weekly Photo Scavenger Hunt: Week 6 - End of the Summer Fun

Photo Scavenger HuntTrey TakahashiComment

Flowers in the summer at the Philmont Ranch, New Mexico. Photo: Trey Takahashi

What a difficult challenge last week's Abstract Techniques scavenger hunt was. Abstract work stands as something that many people are not always the biggest fans of, but something that should be known how to do nonetheless. Submissions for last week are in, and those are all posted below.

Now, as many of you may be loving or loathing, this week is the last full week of summer before we welcome fall's arrival on September 23rd. That being said, it's a great opportunity to get some of those final summer shots in before the cool bite of the fall air whisks us away along with copious pumpkin and apple hot beverages. Here is this week's scavenger hunt:

  1. Summer fun in the sun
  2. Tantalizing treats of summer
  3. Sensational sunset
  4. Summer in the city
  5. Dress with less; styles of summer

*Be sure to include any information about your photos and a name for citation of your work!

Don't forget to check back next week to see all the submissions for this Scavenger Hunt

1. Tilt-shift photography

2. Beautiful blur

3. Double the exposure

4. Bountiful bokeh

5. Feel free to freestyle (create your own abstract photo however you please)

Thanks again for all the amazing submissions from:

Haley Rae (thesummertimeproject)

Adrienne Davis (@oddvocadoe)

Celene Barrera (@celenebeats)

Allison Launay (@ally_scard)

Trey Takahashi (@tofutakahashi)

Please check out the artists cited above, and feel free to submit your work or any ideas for future scavenger hunts here.

Click here to check out previous scavenger hunts and submissions!

Meta: On Wellness and Updates

MetaTrey TakahashiComment

We've come a long way in this blog over the past couple of months. Out of the ashes and revived with new posts and work coming in from a host of different places. It's exciting to see just how things have come together. And in the heat of it all, I do apologize for the frequency coming to a halt. Amidst a massive neck cramp and other unrelated health issues, I had to take a step back, unable to sit for a long enough time to write out a few articles to be posted. Depth and quality take precedent over a large quantity of incomplete posts.

It has without a doubt been exciting to see this place grow again after it had been dead for awhile. We have had several people participating in things such as the weekly photo scavenger hunts, and submitting ideas and their thoughts for other changes as well. That is a tremendously exciting to see, the slow growth of our viewership develop. This place has been, and always will be a hub to learn and live in all the facets of life and culture which we all enjoy; thank you all on joining us for the ride.

This week we'll be turning the switch back on and pressing forward with some new exciting stuff. Thanks for all the support folks, thanks for hanging on!

-Trey Takahashi