The Japanese


During the years 1989 to 1992, I lived in Japan.  The first year was spent in the city of Kyoto studying Japanese language full-time.  I also met masters at that time who mentored me in the study of Japanese calligraphy (shodo), traditional woodblock printing (hanga), as well as yoga, and Japanese culture.  For the last 3 years, I was based in Tanabe, a town between the ocean and mountains towards the end of the Wakayama peninsula.  I was stationed in Tanabe by a private company to develop English curriculum for junior high classes in several remote mountain villages.  During this time, I was immersed in the study and practice of Zen Buddhism and continued the study of Japanese calligraphy, while documenting  the people my life crossed paths with.

These photographs were all shot in pre-digital times with a medium format Hasselblad camera and film.  Originally the images were black and white silver prints done in the darkroom.   

I wish to dedicate this series to my best friends and mentors Soten Akamatsu, Yutaka Sakonoma and Shuichi Somemechi.

With special thanks to Tomehisa and Hiroe Yamamoto for their friendship and unconditional support of this project.

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    Copyright John Bonath 2019