Back in June we headed off to the land of the rising sun in search of new terrain, new culture and new experiences.
I have wanted to visit japan for a few years, the skill, care and craft that their culture creates is inspiring.
My practice somewhat stems from traditional print making practices that have been apart of Japanese heritage for centuries. The paper I use comes from the central part of the main land in the province of Tokushima, This was a destination for me on this trip.
We landed in Tokyo, totally disorientated, with a bag full of gear and a lack of language, we found everyone to be incredibly helpful and kind. Arriving into Shibuya, Friday evening after the working week was done, groups of business men both young and old were littered all over the city. In back alleyways and busy intersections, it was the time to get drunk.
We met a young group of men who were struggling to stay upright, one decided to venture over and strike up a conversation. With broken language we found common ground with charades, using our bodies to describe what we meant.
The phones came out google translate was downloaded and we became friends on Instagram.
Coffee is a passion that has been with me for several years, leaving the Carpentry industry to pursue my love for specialty coffee has given me a narrative when travelling.
Koffee Mameya is one of Tokyo's sort after coffee spots, this tiny operation boasts a large selection of coffee from all over the world and is served by some incredible baristas.
There are many coffee shops sprawled all over japan, found in every borough in unassuming places like this one here, we could have spent months finding all the spots in Tokyo alone.
Tokyo is a great place to start a Japan adventure, The city is well planned, the subways are amazing and it is great for confidence building and making you feel at home where you would expect.
There are Shinto shrines and temples splayed all over the city, beautifully manicured gardens and building preserving their ancient way of life.
Walking around the city, soaking in all the Tokyo has to offer made me ready to get out of the city and search for the next phase of the journey. Picking up small tools here and there while we skimmed the surface of such a dynamic city I collected enough to have a basic kit to get out into the hills in search for trees.
On the flight over we decided agains the Rail Pass and chose a route we felt more comfortable with, we found a camper van which could take us off the beaten path and create new untravelled routes.
We made tracks for the Chiba peninsula, arriving late we found a secluded spot by the waters edge down a dirt road past some secluded houses, The sun had risen by 4 a.m and to our surprise a massive rock was jutting out to sea right where we had parked making for the first of many incredible sunrises on the trip.
With convenience stores on every second corner they became a safe haven for dollar coffee and rice pockets. We took a quick drive to wake ourselves up and upon our return local fisherman had wet their lines and settled in for the morning, Japan in June was incredibly hot, by 8 a.m it was close to 30 degrees and we decided to take off and follow the coast line.
Looking like a scene out of The Grand Budapest, we were welcomed with bright colour schemed hotels and homes, they were a stark contrast to the smaller fishing shacks and refined modern bungalows that lay at their feet in the surrounding hills.
As the day ended and the last of the light left the sky, I meandered back to the van to settle in for the night.
Everything was prepped for the morning for me to print the tree, I was excited to see how it would turn out.
Day broke around 430 am, I grabbed my gear and headed back down, everything was covered in morning due, I wiped the base clean and started getting my gear ready. The wind was low and I had an uninterrupted session of printing, it was so rewarding pulling the first print, feeling the ripples underneath my fingers as I crossed years of growth, I knew this was going to be great.
The sun came beating down by 830 am, I roasted under the hot sun with no chance of shade and finished by midday.
Returning to the van weathered but filled with overwhelm and joy we loaded everything back in the van and made our way back through the countryside.
We came across a sorting yard several kilometres away and pulled over for a rummage.
It was the perfect setting to reflect on my first printing experience of Japan and decided to take some images of the print that was.
Travelling by van across Japan takes its time, the speed limit everywhere is 50 unless you drive through expressways heavy with tolls. It is actually a beautiful way to see the country, slow and steady allowing you to take in the beauty of rural living. Tokyo was 8 hours away and our next destination 13, life right then was great all we had was each other, community radio and time, welcome to Japan.