I started writing Haiku somewhere along my journey. Upon my return, I kept up the practice. It’s a meditative form of thinking, minimal, uncomplicated, glorious yet not celebrated. In many ways, it’s like Japan itself. Part of my journey took me through the village of Ohara, a quiet mountain village north of downtown Kyoto. I found the mountains in the distance to be captivating, the people friendly, the food tasty, and the village itself charming in every way. Quintessential Japan in so many ways, I stopped in the local farmer’s market and enjoyed a chat with some of the folks from the village before writing:
A little mountain
that is not magnificent
still has a village
The images in this collection are vintage visual Japan, inspired by those haiku. I tried to capture the spirit of Japan, of slow artisanal Japan, in the images you see here.
Notes from these images:
- ‘Woman Tends Flowers,” temple grounds, Kyoto, Japan. This was from one of our first days of shooting when just strolling around a temple felt new. I was surprised to happen upon her tending to the flowers there. I should have known the way the gardens were, but it was a new experience for me.
- “Front View of House,” this is a facade from the town of Kurashiki, Japan. This town is known for its architecture, specifically, the buildings were designed to store grain years ago, punctuated by little shops and storefronts like you see here.
- “Storefront,” this one on Sanjo Dori in downtown Kyoto, near the place we routinely scored frozen custard. I will forever look at this image and think about frozen custard from Bel Amer, yes, it was that good. This is a little shop down the way from that place. I loved the symmetry.
- “Window Screen,” this one takes us to Gion district in downtown, Kyoto. Ancient architecture, beautiful plants, and a sunny day make for interesting textures.
- “Restaurant Owner,” Kyoto, Japan. She was nice enough to let me take her picture. The food looked good too.
- “Two Ladies on the Avenue,” this one from downtown Kyoto. I had been out shooting and stopped to ask them if I could take their picture. I don’t think they spoke much English but they were happy to oblige. This was along a more crowded shopping type area in the city, almost what you might call a “tourist trap,” but I think they were somewhat local.
- “Downward Facing Geisha,” this one from the tea house session with the Maiko. Here she’s before the performance, speaking to us through a translator. She did speak a little English actually as, when I told her I was from Texas, she replied, “Ah, TEXAS!” Everybody knows Texas somehow and everybody knows Geisha too, so we had some common ground there.
- “Hillside Village Farm,” this is Ohara, Japan in a nutshell. This quaint little village, nestled just outside of Kyoto was a wonderful place to visit. I got the best photographs there and it was just such a lovely place. Very Japan in so many ways, yet easy to get to and wonderfully free from the typical overrun of tourists you might find in other spots.
- “Bare Tree,” more Ohara, Japan. I really can’t speak highly enough of this quaint little town. It was charming in every way and the food was awesome too. Such an experience, what a magical little town.
- “Mountain Peaks,” this is the last one from Ohara, Japan. One of the things I loved about the little village was how it was surrounded by these not too tall mountains. They made for an interesting backdrop. We happened to go there in the rain, which also made for some interesting light. We had fog, shadows, and all kinds of rolling clouds which I think helped make me love the images so much. There is nothing quite like a foggy mountaintop to make for a great photo.
This has been my first Japan series. Look for a book to come soon. I’ll share details of this on the blog once it’s ready.
Until next time…