Mutsu, Aomori, Tsuruoka, Tokamachi & Tokyo JP

by @hannastephens25

I went to Japan last month with my sister and a friend. My best memories of Japan involve visiting my cousins in the rural Chiba, so I'm not so much drawn to capturing the hyper-modern aspects, rather the traditional and spiritual sides (although the modern/traditional distinction isn't so binary). The sense of ritual, purpose and attention to detail that exists in Japan is really quite beautiful so I have tried to capture this. As someone who is mixed race and has grown up in London, I feel both connected and disconnected to Japan and my photographs explore this feeling. 

We visited two spiritual areas, the first (Osore-zan) representing a crossing into the afterlife and the second (Haguro-san) representing birth. Though unintentional, it was good that we did it in this order because there's a belief that surrounding yourself with death fills you with bad energy and that the power of nature can cleanse you. The weather conditions were perfect to capture the vibes of both places, with our trip to Osore-zan being very overcast and our trip to Haguro-san bright and sunny. 

Other than these places we made full use of our rail passes by going on local trains through the countryside to see various artworks as part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field in Niigata and ended our stay in Tokyo.