Location: Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan
"The Japan I Hadn’t Seen" is an ongoing project that began in 2015 as I returned to my homeland of Japan for the first time since I became a photographer. Although I grew up in Tokyo until I was eleven and later worked there in an office for ten years, I felt like I had not truly seen my country the way it was depicted in its rich tableaux of art and history
As I explored my country, I recalled the stories that my grandfather had read to me when I was a child, as well as the surreal fantasy books by Kenji Miyazawa such as "Night on the Galactic Railroad," that had a profound impact on me.
One of these was the fable of "Urashima Taro," an old fairy tale about a man who rescues a sea turtle and is taken to a beautiful underwater palace where he is wined and dined for what he thinks is a few days. When he departs to return to his village, the princess of the palace gives him a gift box with an admonition to never open it, but he cannot help himself, and when he opens it, he finds that 100 years have passed by above the sea. He turns into an old man, and everyone who was familiar to him is gone.
When I finally returned to live in Japan in 2017, many years after I had last lived there and having changed careers entirely, I felt in many ways like the protagonist in this folk story. Everything had forever changed. I felt like a wanderer in a surreal cosmos. Since then, I have been in search of real-life scenes that transcend the divide from the everyday world around us into a world imagined through art, storytelling and memory.