I almost fell in love with Japan. Almost. I loved the countryside of the Hakone region with its lush nature and the beautiful lakes. And I loved how excited I was when I saw the top of Mt. Fuji for the first (and last) time. I was deeply impressed by the beauty of Kyoto’s historic district of Higashiyama and intrigued with the Geisha tradition. I loved walking through the thousands of Torii gates of Fushimi Inari even though the spot was crowded like hell and I was amazed by the tranquility the bamboo forest spreads. I was in tears when I visited the terrifying historic sites of Hiroshima and touched by the little Japanese girls distributing paper crane bracelets. Tokyo totally got me with its craziness, dynamic and vibrancy on one side and the tradition and culture on the other. I was fascinated by the visual and acoustic overload and at the same time enjoyed the quiet and green spots in the city.
I was humbled how civilized and quiet the Japanese people behave and I felt safe with every move I made. I was astounded by the complex and well-organized train system and delighted about the friendliness and hospitality of the Japanese towards visitors, despite the language barrier.
Sounds like I loved a lot of things about Japan. But here’s the thing. I saw the beauty and awesomeness of the country but it has not completely reached my heart. Because I was distracted by a grumpy, boring and sometimes even mean travel partner. The awkward and tense spirit between us ruined my flow and my usual lightheartedness. Our communication was dreadful. Actually, there was hardly any communication at all and I was not able to do anything about it. I couldn’t turn the tables. I have a very strong desire for harmony and even though I very much dislike tense situations, I’m usually able to calm things down. But somehow this whole trip developed its own really weird dynamic and with that, I had some sad moments. How can so many beautiful facets be drowned by just one thing?
In contrast to my previous articles with the colorful photos of the country, these Japan black and white photographs are supposed to stand for my up and down mood. Black for the sadness I felt due to the relationship with my companion and white for the amazingness of this wonderful country. The main compositional elements I used are blur, strong contrasts, clarity and hidden faces.
Here’s my personal best of Japan black and white photography:
Fushimi Inari and the bamboo forest in Kyoto were one of my favorite sites in Japan and you can find colorful photos on my Kyoto article. Transforming photos of such vivid spots into black and white gives them a totally different atmosphere.
Wire jungle in Kyoto
Faces and hidden faces
(click on an image to enlarge gallery)
Movement and blur
Tokyo was the perfect city for me to experiment with movement and blur. The advantage of a grumpy travel partner is that I had enough after a while, strolled the city by myself and had time to take these night shots.
My regular readers know that I am not the most emotional writers in the world. This article not only tells you the wonderful feelings I have towards Japan but also reveals my personal journey. I wrote down my emotions on my flight back because I knew I was going to forget how bad it really was. Looking at the whole thing with a little distance, I can say that I’m really happy that I was able to explore Japan and this is what counts. The upside of the downside is that it allowed me to see the things that I can share with you in my black-and-white photographs.
If you’ve had a time where things turned bad and it allowed you to capture another view of life, let me know.
Here’s your pin for later