After more than five years, this June I had the opportunity to drop by Hakata’s legendary (founded 77 years ago!) Gogo Camera Trading Company once more. Aside from having a little chat with Mr. Gogo and buying a NIKKOR-H Auto 1:3.5 f=28mm (1972), of course I also took the opportunity to take a photo of the place again.
Photo taken without involvement of a photographer: When I bowed down to adjust my shoestrings, the camera belt slipped from my shoulder, sending the camera on a swift descend towards the parking-lot tarmac. On impact, the shutter of the camera fired, resulting in the image above. Luckily the camera shrugged it off, save for a few scratches in the bottom plate.
Diesen Januar war ich zu Gast im podcast von Thomas Winters Fotobuch-Ecke, einem der Anlaufpunkte für Fotobuch-Besprechungen im deutschsprachigen Netz. Ausgehend von meinem Buch “From Pebbles to Boulders”, dessen Entstehung in Japan wir ausgiebig diskutieren, habe ich mit Thomas gute 45 Minuten über meine fotografische Arbeitsweise, Verbindungen zur Sinologie, China, Japan und viele weitere Dinge gesprochen. Hört gern mal rein, entweder direkt über Thomas’ Seite, auf der er auch einige seiner Eindrücke zum Buch veröffentlicht hat, oder z.B. direkt über Spotify.
As already described here and here, the emerging COVID-19 pandemic left my wife and me stranded in her hometown Yukuhashi from March to July 2020 — right after the birth of our son. During that time, I carried a camera wherever I went, resulting in the capture of a large number of scenes of the local landscape, stones, rivers, houses, people, economy, politics, COVID-19, popular mythology and religion … my perspective on Japan “from pebbles to boulders,” so to speak.
Back in Hamburg, work was begun to edit the photos into bookshape. Being a side-project to my research, it took until September of this year to see the publication of the finished book. While 38 cartridges of film were carefully exposed and developed by hand in Yukuhashi, only 96 of the resulting photos were selected and arranged for this book, the layout being handled by Shoko Tanaka.
The book is printed to order by Norderstedt’s finest “Books on Demand” printer-publisher. It can be ordered (in Europe) through any purveyor of books of your choice, i.e. your local brick and mortar bookstore (suggested!), Book on Demand’s own webstore or various online bookshops.
From Pebbles to Boulders : 96 Photos of Small-Town Japan
On June 30 we finally left Yukuhashi for Hamburg, arriving back in our usual dwelling on July 1. Little bleary, worse for wear and tear, but happy to be back. We had left Europe as two and came back as three to a place that had changed as well, arriving one and a half months later than we had originally planned.
Coincidentally, our flight with JAL was the first one by that airline between Japan and Europe since the Covid-19 outbreak. Things seem to slowly creep back to some measure of normal, and we too are trying to fit back into our usual lifes. But like the river you cannot step in twice, things are not quite the same anymore, making us accept new roles to fill from now on.
One role that I nevertheless intend to continue to play on this stage will of course be the humble photographer. In Yukuhashi, I exposed and developed 38 cartridges of Fujifilm Neopan Across 100 II, with the last two rolls of film developed on the morning of our flight back to Hamburg. Whenever I will find the time for it in the next few weeks I will work on editing a small spread of pictures showing what we saw in Yukuashi between March and June. Other projects — more on those later — are forthcoming as well.
Long time no see:
On February 28, I arrived in Yukuhashi, the hometown of my wife, where she wanted to give birth to our first child. As intended, this happened not long after my arrival and since then both her and the baby are doing fine.
We planned to return to Hamburg in the middle of May, but now it looks like our return has been postponed indefinitely, due to the recent worldwide unpleasantness related to the Coronavirus. This leaves us stranded in Yukuhashi, a small (dare I say rural?) town on the southwestern shore of the Japanese Inland Sea, in the vicinity of the metropolitan area of Kitakyushu. Even though the baby naturally takes up most of our energy (which we gladly give to him), still plenty of opportunities to record the peculiarities of local life with my camera present themselves almost on a daily basis.
Since as usual my tool of choice is a 35mm film camera, it will take some time for anyone to see the photos taken here. They are forthcoming though.
Meanwhile in Hamburg: Various issues of my photo magazine “reflex” are now available through the online store of the Nachladen, as are many other publications by local artists from Hamburg. Please check it out.