Portraits of a Stranger

When I was in Japan last year, I took some amazing photos. Now, I don’t profess to be a fantastic photographer by any means, but when you’re in a country as historically rich and phenomenal as Japan, how can you not come away with great pictures?

Some of my favorite pictures, though, were of strangers. There is a quiet elegance to the Japanese culture that I find so beautiful and endearing, and that made for images that really resonated with me. Who are these people? Where do they come from? What are their struggles? Who are their families? Why do they sit and watch the sakura alone?

The pictures are like unwritten stories. They pique my imagination, and make me feel emotions, probably for no other reason than it captures a portrait of a moment in a stranger’s life.

Watching the sakura in an ancient garden

Capturing a flower cluster

Showing her mother a cherry blossom

Showing her mother a cherry blossom

Putting her shoes back on after walking the tatami halls of an ancient mansion

Putting her shoes back on after walking the tatami halls of an ancient mansion

Moments like these are so inspiring to me. They might produce just 100 words, but what stories could be shaped from them! I wonder what I might have brought back from Japan if I’d brought a pencil instead of a camera…


12 thoughts on “Portraits of a Stranger

    • On my last trip I spent time in Tokyo and Chiba, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kagoshima. I’ll be visiting again this year and hope to see Okinawa or Hokkaido as well.

      These pictures were all taken at Daigoji in Kyoto. 🙂

      • Very nice! Those are all great parts of Japan. Chiba, though, isn’t well known internationally, I’d think. What part of Chiba?

        If you go to Hokkaido, I recommend the サッポロ雪まつり (Sapporo Snow Festival) in February.
        Okinawa has nice beaches…and I like Okinawan food!

      • To be perfectly honest, the only reason I went to Chiba was to see Tokyo Disneyland/sea! We just rode the train there from Shinagawa a couple days. 🙂

        Thanks for the tip! Unfortunately this year we’ll be there for 6 weeks starting in July, but maybe next time I can aim for an earlier trip.

        The main purpose of the trip for me is the immersion in the language, which is why we’re thinking about going to the more rural areas. Still, it might be fun to come back speaking kansaiben, and we have an open invitation from a friend in Kyoto, so we’ll see what happens!

  1. >the only reason I went to Chiba was to see Tokyo Disneyland/sea!

    Yeah, Tokyo Disneyland is actually not in Tokyo, but in Chiba…but very close to the border with Tokyo.

    I didn’t mean to imply that there was anything negative about visiting Chiba…only that it’s not one of Japan’s internationally well-known cities.

    Besides Disneyland, there are other things to see and do in Chiba. For example, Sea World is also in Chiba. As well as Chiba Zoo, which is a nice one.
    There are nice beaches.
    The famous (in Japan, at least) “Narita-san” temple is close to the international airport.

    And the biggest “Hina-Matsuri” doll set:

      • >I actually didn’t know Chiba existed

        Most people outside of Japan have never heard of Chiba. That’s why the Disney park here is called “Tokyo Disneyland”, Narita Int’l Airport is sometimes called “Tokyo Int’l Airport” and the Hard Rock Cafe in Narita calls itself “Hard Rock Cafe, Narita, Tokyo”…even though all of those are in Chiba Prefecture.

        Chiba is near Tokyo. Tokyo is well-known.

        > (I) assumed (it) was in Tokyo

        I think most foreign visitors do.

      • Fortunately, I married into a Japanese family, so I have all the perks of fluent tour guides PLUS all the allowances normally given to 外人. It’s a pretty good deal. 😀

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