A Google search for "photos of Japan" will land you with an ostensibly endless selection of pictures shot by the shaky hands of impatient tourists and stock photos in some photography service's vaults. Without fail, you'll find an image of Tokyo Tower, flamboyant red spire sticking out against the sterile backdrop of blue and gray office buildings. You'll have no trouble finding a shot or two of women dressed as maids standing outside a uniquely themed storefront. Finding what's on the surface of popular perception is never difficult.
Tracking down the true spirit of the country captured in a series of thousands of pixels can be a real headache. Within the last few years, the popularity and ease of use of social media and blogging websites has given rise to a number of artists who somehow manage to hold, at least temporarily, that je ne sais quoi that makes Japan so special to so many people in a few unique frames. These are three of the best.
Since leaving her native Romania on her first trip to Japan in 2007, Muza-chan has hit all but a handful of the Japanese prefectures, a fact which is reflected nicely in the variety of historical sites, urban landscapes, and more showcased in her wonderful photos. So far, my favorite image from Muza-chan is the shot featured below of the famous Hakone Shrine, located in Kanagawa prefecture. You can find all of Muza-chan's work over on her website, or by following her on Twitter @Muzachan.
|Photo used under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License, courtesy of Muza-chan.net.|
Whereas Muza-chan captures images from all over the Japanese archipelago, Kyoto Daily Photo, as the name might give away, focuses on Kyoto, the City of History. Because of the location, most of KDP's photos have green elements to them, and many feature religious buildings built in the old style tucked away into enclaves of nature within Kyoto. To fully take advantage of Kyoto Daily Photo's insider look at Japan's formal capital, you'll want to hop on Twitter and follow @KyotoDailyPhoto.
|Photo courtesy of Kyoto Daily Photo|
Like Kyoto Daily Photo, the scope of Tokyo Times is (usually) limited to one city. However, using the word "limited" in regard to Tokyo Times' artwork seems wrong, especially when you see what Lee Chapman, the man behind the magic, is able to infuse into each of his frames. The work really shines when he comes across someone sleeping off a night of Dutch courage on the sidewalk or just a group of guys hanging out at their favorite bar with their books. Tokyo Times manages to capture the everyday life of Tokyo's residents in a way I challenge you to find anywhere else online. Check out Tokyo Times' website, or get updates in real time @TokyoTimes.
|Photo used with permission from Lee Chapman of Tokyo Times|
Did I leave out one of your favorite photographers focusing on Japan? Let me know about them in the comment section below!