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Wherever you go in Japan, you won’t be short of photography inspiration. Last October, the Melbourne Camera Club toured the country in search of the best snaps. Here are just a few of our favourites.
Lights and umbrella – Norman Blaikie
Our visit to Matsue coincided with the annual ‘Water lantern festival’. We saw hundreds of lanterns, mostly in and around the castle grounds. Many lanterns were on the ground, scattered over open spaces.
Beside one of these displays was an illuminated wall that extended for about 50 metres. I noticed two women with an umbrella walking in front of the wall and saw the potential for a photo. Everett ran over to them and asked if they would pose for us by standing and looking at the wall. They were happy to oblige. A few of us got an image like this one. It was the last night of the festival and, within a few minutes, the lanterns were being packed up for the last time.
Gateways to Heaven – Norman Blaikie
An early morning visit to the shrine allowed us to photograph the famous red gates before the crowds arrived. These torii are well photographed as this is the top tourist destination in Japan.
On a previous visit to the shrine, in about 100 images, I managed to get only one with a person in traditional dress, a priest. But his position was far from ideal. On this tour, we had the luxury of having our own subject, whom we could position in various ways. This is one image of a number in my set with Junko in a variety of poses. Having our own model, dressed traditionally in a number of locations, was a major feature of this tour.
Autumn has arrived – Norman Blaikie
On the island of Miyajima, we were up before sunrise and found this traditional bridge. We photographed Junko on it in many poses. Just as we were about to move to another location, Junko picked up this red Japanese maple leaf and studied it (being a model, deliberately of course). It was one of the more interesting images I took that morning.
Lunchtime in Osaka – Norman Blaikie
Osaka was our last destination and much of the time was spent wandering around interesting places in the city. This included the markets in the covered laneways, which are similar to those in many other cities. A number of the stalls/cafes were quite open. These are clearly where locals can eat cheaply, and were very inviting. I was fortunate that the cook happened to look up at the right moment; his engagement with me makes the image.
Genbei Yamaguchi: Famous kimono and obi maker – Norman Blaikie
‘While in Kyoto we visited the studio of Japan’s leading kimono and obi maker and were able to photograph him with some of his prize-winning creations. This particular obi was a work of art and had a great deal of gold thread in it.
Genbei-san is descended from a long line of samurai and, even in his advancing years, undertakes dangerous activities to get the feeling of being at physical limits. He can present with a very stern expression but also has a great sense of humour and a warm personality. He was a very generous host.’
Old Hands – Gaynor Robson
Joge is a fascinating village north east of Hiroshima, dating back to the Edo period. The faces of this delightful, and very welcoming old couple were filled with character and I knew they had been through a lot together over the years. When he slipped his weathered hand in to hers and she gave it a comforting little squeeze I knew that was the photo I really wanted. I quickly reframed and pressed the button.
Independent Thinker – Gaynor Robson
As we arrived at the steps of the Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto, the obligatory school excursion photo was in progress. All the students were obediently lined up in their neat uniforms, shiny shoes and dark socks. Somehow, all I could see was the girl in the middle of the front row wearing white socks! Was she a privileged senior student, an independent thinker, a rebel?