I love the Family Mart, two doors down from my hotel. It has sustained me for the entire Olympics.
The routine for this very complex Games is that you arrive, and hard quarantine for three days, then Olympic bubble quarantine, pretty much thereafter. My world is the Olympic approved hotel, the Olympic buses, the Olympic venues, and then reverse that at the end of the day. I cannot venture into my neighborhood for a meal or a beer, not that there’s time. I can only leave the hotel for 15 minutes, signing out, and thence to the Family Mart. And sign back in.
Thank goodness I like their sandwiches–breakfast, lunch and dinner now for 16 days.
The common denominator, as you can see, is egg. Tuna and egg. Tuna, lettuce, ham and egg. Chicken breast, egg and cheese. Ham, cheese and egg. Ham and egg, for a no frills approach. There’s also plain egg, and an omelette sandwich. Thankfully, I like eggs. And the sandwiches are delicious. Throw in some water, OJ, and the occasional Haagen Daz ice cream (only if feel I did well behind the camera that day) and I’ve been set.
I’ve learned many things this particular Olympics. In no particular order, they are:
You could not cover this Games without a smart phone. All the business is done on apps.
Long glass is hard to haul, but worth it. 800mm on monopod, 180-400 by my feet.
Don’t try to down a container of pasta with red sauce in hasty fashion when you’ve just pulled your face mask down to your chin. (If you pull your mask off to get water or food, you have to be quick to get it back up in place out of consideration for those around you.) I was going to be trapped at my position for the Opening Ceremonies for over six hours, so I tried to jam down some sustenance while I was at my seat, prepping gear. You guessed it, marinara everywhere. For the rest of the night I looked like a masked ghoul. Upside? The marinara sauce was pretty good, and it infused my mask with a wonderful aroma. Which was certainly preferable to my breath at that point in the day.
Short hair is good. I got nearly a buzz cut to prep for the heat of Tokyo. Good move. Additionally, due to COVID, there are no paper towels in the rest rooms, meaning your hands drip dry. I’ve taken to using my head as a drying towel, just rubbing my hands in my hair. Cools me off, sorta dries my hands before I pick up my gear. I don’t worry overmuch about the fact my hair at that point is a mess. Style is a train that left the station, for me, long ago. Besides, 20 hour days humping 40+ pounds of gear in and out of buses and venues all day….well, everybody looks like shit.
The buses have been great, and going back and forth at odd hours to the hotel, often pretty empty.
And there is some measure of sustenance at the press venues. Pockets of soft white bread somehow welded together on four sides to make a pouch filled with strawberry jam and margarine. Editing at the venues at post midnight, I’ve been eating these like popcorn. They can also double as cushions for your lenses if you put ’em in your pockets. There’s probably so many carbs and so much sugar in these, though, you might as well just gaffer tape a couple of them to your ass right now, cause that’s where they’re heading anyway.
One thing I knew about, but re-learned all over again. The Japanese people are amongst the most gracious, helpful and hardworking people anywhere on earth. The staff and volunteers trying to make this complex enterprise work in the midst of this very complex time on our planet are unfailingly wonderful to encounter. One woman left her post and walked this very confused photographer to the right doorway the other day for over ten minutes. Didn’t let me go until she knew I had it dialed in.
There’s understandable confusion, of course. There’s multiple venues named Ariake for multiple sports. So, when dumbass here showed up at the wrong one, and queried a volunteer, “Gymnastics?” And there was a pause, a huge smile, and an enthusiastic “Yes!” After I went through the whole security deal I found it was tennis. Can’t get upset. Just collect your stuff and find the right venue. My bad in the first place. These young people are amazing.
There’s a lot of admirable striving here to pull all this off, but none more so than on the field of play. The athletes! They work so hard, so often in difficult obscurity, for this moment on the world stage. This isn’t just an opportunity to photograph sports. It’s an opportunity to make pictures of sheer, unbridled joy.
Andrew Higgins says
Yum, sandwiches…! Great work Joe (as always…)! Really looking forward to seeing more pics and your thoughts on how the kit performed, post-Olympics.
Don’t they have these vending machines filled with strange soft drinks at every corner? Or maybe Covid has shut them down? Keep it up, you’re killing it! All the best from Greece.
Bill Auth says
Thanks for the look BTS. It’s the little things that get you ready to make great images. Q1, is there any food/drink in your hotel? Q2, is the mart open 24/7?
Q3, how is the Venue Photo volunteer corps?
Be safe and healthy my friend??
Dan Browning says
Thanks again for perspective and a hearty laugh or two!
John Young says
‘The cream always floats to the top’ so says the old idiom, and it’s true. Though not a sports specialist, by your own admission, your pictures have been brilliant and incisive. Thanks for finding time and the energy (guess those egg sandwiches must provide extra gas!) to provide us with your wonderful insights to the Olympics. All the best, John
How you have time to write on top of the crazy amount of work is beyond me. But please, if you can, the most important piece of gear — WHAT ARE THOSE GRAY SNEAKERS?????
I love your survival tips story…. more on this please Joe. The wonderful oddities of Japan.
Ron Nabity says
Your photos tell such rich stories of the events in front of you. And these snippets tell us about everything that happens in the background. Love reading them!
Dave Barak says
Those tuna and egg; tuna, lettuce, ham and egg; chicken breast, egg and cheese; ham, cheese and egg; ham and egg; plain egg; and omelette sandwiches sound pretty good, but did they have egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and Spam; egg, bacon and Spam; egg, bacon, sausage and Spam; Spam, bacon, sausage and Spam; Spam, egg, Spam, Spam, bacon and Spam; Spam, Spam, Spam, egg and Spam; Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam sandwiches?
Someone had to ask, and that someone had to be me.
Joe McNally says
Love it. kindred spirits. I tried to say it fast like Wahlberg with the female names in Ted….
Earnie Grafton says
My Japanese wife translated your Family Mart receipts. Annie will be provided with a full transcript. (TWO cokes? tisk tisk tisk). Glad you’re having fun dude!
Dave Barnes says
The writing! And of course the photo moments… fabulous. Thanks for taking us with you.
Joe Howe says
I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Tokyo quite a few years back. To say it’s a different world is an understatement. I can relate to the sandwiches although the ones I gravitated to required some assembly which meant it was like origami. Great work Joe!
Joe McNally says
Two cokes! And so far, one Asahi Beer! Which is still in the damn fridge cause I’m too damn tired to drink it at the end of the day. Great to hear from you guys, miss you both…..
Jeff Cable says
Funny – I am reading your blog while mashing together the peanut butter and the jelly sandwiches at the water polo media center.
Shaun Robinson says
I love your great images and the story telling of just what you have to go through to get them. Keep up the great work.
Mark Mercado says
You should try also their rice balls or rolls. It’s quite fun getting randomly from the shelf then getting the surprise of your life afterwards. However it is best to ask first if you have allergies.
That beer is best matched with karaage. They are the fried chicken poppers usually found near the cashier.
Brad Matthews says
Thank you Joe for taking your sleeping time to share with us your experience. So few will ever get the opportunity to experience this event as you have. Those who come are there to work and capture the moments within that time. Historic moments, Victory, Loss, Defeat, Glory, Pride, Sadness, Exhilaration!!!! That’s what you experienced with your work. Let alone what you captured of the Athletes adventure. As the event is winding down and the Para Games are gearing up. Stay strong, keep smiling, and keep doing what you do so well continue to capture the human within the humanity.
Great story, during my reading I feel like I was there with you thanks for sharing
Per Olsson says
Love this Joe, keep it coming. Jeff Cable, love your blogs as well. With you two writing it’s almost like being there.
Will Teen ( Willzartphots ) says
Thanks Joe for give us the rundown on what goes on from your perspective, as a photographer. You have painted a wonderful picture with your words, and those photos add so much too. I hear how hard you are working in unusual circumstances, with little sleep, probably running on adrenaline, caffeine, sugar, and of course eggs, yet you made the time to tell this story, which not only enlightened me but amused me very much and made me laugh, lots. In essence, you, like these athletes, are giving it your all even though it kicks your ass to get the job done! I know that you love these young people, their dedication, skill and passion, and that must energize you. Although I like it best when we win, in reality any wonderful and awe-inspiring performance is, as a human, a win for all of us, and joyful. I am enjoying seeing the exceptional images of the games on your website and looking forward to seeing more as they are introduced. Meanwhile, be thankful for small things…no eggs mixed with the strawberry jam! Enjoy the rest of the games. Godspeed Joe.
Frank Meo says
Thanks Joe for the insight. You must do a presentation of images and storytelling….we all want to hear and see it! How about a solo presentation at PROJECTIONS!?!?
Gary Schwartz says
So interesting to read about the experience and about the Japanese culture.
Joe McNally says
Hey Frank, sure, happy to….email me if you can and we go from there…all the best, Joe
Joe McNally says
Hey Will…what a wonderful note. So glad we met on the boardwalk. Enjoying your Insta feed. Yep, we can root for the home team, but all these athletes deserve celebration, win, lose or draw. All Best, Joe