japan

Postcard From Shirakawago, Japan by andrew faulk

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Tour buses in droves stop at Shirakawago Village. We’re all here. We, the fortunate. Italians. Americans. French. Singaporeans. Chinese. I can’t blame the tour operators or those packed into the coaches for being here. After all, I hopped off one of those buses myself.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is on Japan’s tourist circuit for a reason. Just a couple of hours from the hub of Takayama, the thatched roof, A-frame homes of Shirakawago are the main attraction. When seen from the mountainous overlooks surrounding the valley, the tiny enclave is an idyllic view into Japan’s cultural past, the very glimpse that most tourists hope to see.

Natural and traditional beauty aside, our hosts in Shirakawago seem jaded, put off by the influx of visitors. If their faces and curt responses are indicators, the residents of Shirakawago are already “over it.”

I don’t know what the residents of Shirakawago think about the tourism boom. I don’t bother to ask if my assumptions about the clear Catch 22 are correct. I worry that my clarifying questions will only serve as salt in an open wound. I choose to withhold my queries and simply wonder if those who live here would rather see their home overrun with umbrella-pumping-tour-guides or if they would choose the more solitary, less economically prosperous existence of days gone.

I continue through the village as a voyeur, stopping by a pond to take a photograph of a Shiragkawago home. A million others before me have taken this photo and I, again, realize that I am not creating anything special or unique. Even though I am producing the photos for a travel photography client, I am just like every other tourist here. I am a spectator. I take, take, take and give nothing back save the tiny sprinkle on the local economy.

I worry about this special village and hope that Shirakawago has peace with the decisions it makes about its future.

Tokyo Photo Journal #1 by andrew faulk

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I spend a decent amount of time out and about in Tokyo, Japan. Between editorial and commercial photography assignments, I find great joy in wandering aimlessly through the streets with a pair of headphones on and a small, mirrorless camera in my hand. Most of the time I come home with zero “keepers” (So is the life of a photographer). But every now and again I manage to capture an image that, for one reason or another, resonates with me.

For a long time, I haven’t felt the pull to publish any of the photos hiding on my computer, images existing in randomly named folders. But lately I have felt cluttered, almost as if the JPEGS are crowding me, boxing me in. By posting them, I hope that I will feel a little less cramped and ready to move into the new year.

These frames are nothing more than personal snapshots of my surroundings here in Tokyo. But, the photos deserve to get out of their digital caves and have a bit of a shelf life before being dragged-and-dropped onto a hard drive, likely never to be seen again.. With this said, I am going to start publishing a Tokyo Photo Journal, a visual dumping ground of random images taken in and around the Japanese capital.


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Tokyo Day Tour: Meiji Shrine, Asakusa Temple and Tokyo Bay Cruis
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Tokyo Day Tour: Meiji Shrine, Asakusa Temple and Tokyo Bay Cruis
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