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  • Writer's pictureRuss Tierney

Studio Summer Closure! Watashi wa Nihon ni ikimasu!

Image by tawatchai07 on Freepik

Holidays are an alien concept to me, they're a luxury that I just can't typically justify on two levels... the literal, aka they cost a lot of money for a fleeting experience, and then the fact that being self-employed means that every day away is a possible paid day in an uncertain climate with already no guarantees of said paid day. Missing a day that pays, in turn, could be the difference between a decent (ok) wage that week (or even month), or not. Alongside being a little picky in terms of what I shoot personally, on the plus side, it does grant me a lot of freedom to ironically push the studio and my creative thoughts, but on the minus side, it means I rarely make a full time wage too - shock horror right? Despite popular belief, and be that of a 'people loving portrait photographer' (go on several portrait photographers' websites and count how many open their bio with "I love people" as their shtick), or that of what the studio represents when people see it, I'm not particularly social, and have become accustomed to living on little money and thus only spending what I can afford. Fortunately, not being social while having a poor memory for a lack of lust for fleeting experiences, yet appreciating quirks and oddities, it also means I'm more of a collector and saver than a spender.

Splash Point Photo Photography Studio will be closed 26th August - 15th September

Enter Japan! Which all being well, I will be! I started to learn a bit of Japanese via CD (yes CD kids) maybe over a decade ago. I always thought the culture was fascinating, and I liked the idea of being a white guy in Birmingham who knew a little Japanese. Several years later (and then some), and I'm now living in Wales, and I've forgotten most of it. Apps like Duolingo, however, came around and made it more accessible than ever for free, so I casually started again - but I do really need to dig out those CDs too! It's fair to say, I started to develop a slight wanderlust upon becoming a photographer, how could you not when your whole thing is capturing aesthetics, personality, and morality. I'd watch the odd travel video on YouTube, and I also really enjoy the likes of Collin Abroadcast doing the hagglers markets and seeing how humour and cheek would transcend language. Living through the lens means you don't have to rely on a bad memory, you have something physical (digital) that you can take away, edit, and enjoy later. People may collect memories, but I collect images of memories, that's far more exciting and enticing to me.

I wouldn't travel alone as an introvert, and while I don't like being around people unless I choose to, being somewhere alien without the support of someone else is way too much to endure for a non-social introverted personality, and I ironically often can't enjoy something without someone else unless I'm in the comfort of my own surroundings, or with something 'familiar' - like a say, at a Wildhearts gig - equally ironically, a band notorious for splitting up and not having consistency in anything other than self-destruction.. but live, they're an experience like no other.. assuming Ginger is happy! Anyways, I digress, I rarely get bored in my own company at home, there's always something to do, and I don't need justification or attention from others to feel validated, and I will loath you if you pop up unannounced and mess with my plans and peace for that day!

I figured one day i'd travel when I had someone special to share it with, and that way it would mean a lot more anyhow, and one of those places would have to be Japan! Enter my mom 70th birthday party, and my brother-in-law (who used to often travel for work) was like, "hey, me and the kids are thinking of going to Japan", given my nephews love Anime, "are you coming? You better start saving!". Naturally, I was like, "fuck yeah!". Marc knows his way around the travel life, I know a little (very little bit of) Japanese, so what could go wrong? Or at least, what could go wrong beyond it being classed as an adventure with group support if it did? As suggested, I can, and do save, so luckily I was in a position where I could now justify it and live through that lens having recovered from Covid killing business, plus, as I write this, Japan has only just started to allow free movement of foreigners again because of the pandemic. Previously, you weren't allowed in and/or had to isolate and only be on guided tours with a visa.

Now is probably a good time to apologise in advance if my social media starts to take a massive Japanese twist come the end of September, as I haven't worked out yet whether to completely separate the holiday from my studio-online life, or post images as a "Splash Point Photo travels" type get up as an excuse. I typically try to keep everything on socials studio or local related unless it's a story. What do you think? If a new Instagram the way to go? There will most likely be a blog or two, that's for sure! Here's what we've earmarked to do while out in Japan (roughly).

We're heading to Akihabara for a capsule hotel on the first night (a different one than above) before heading off to Mount Haruna to stay at a Ryokan (a tradition Japanese inn) for a night. My nephews inform me that Mount Haruna is the basis of the fictional mountain in the anime Initial D, which is about drift racers and where real drift races also take place. I think there are people who do anime tours and visit the places featured in various anime, so this one is on them. It's a bit out in the sticks, so assuming no races are happening, it will probably actually be a nice scenic and quieter start to the holiday after being in the thick of it in a Tokyo capsule before having time to really adjust.

We're then heading to Kyoto for four days, and Osaka for a couple of nights (both are a 30-45min train ride from each other) so we can at least then get to experience the Osaka lights given it'll be the height of summer when we go, so I imagine it may not get dark 'til nearing the last train back to Kyoto otherwise. I believe we'll be staying in the heart of Shinsekai, and then we can just roll in to bed (or a futon) after views like this. There's so much to do in Osaka and Kyoto, that i'm sure we'll be kept plenty busy, plus we fully intend to do Universal Studios and Super Nintendo World (a part of universal). Super Nintendo often gets to full capacity unless you're there early for a timed entry, and without an express pass, that's a day in its self I believe.

The following week (ish), we're going to stay at a temple with some monks for a couple of nights, not too far from Osaka, before heading back to Tokyo and really taking in Akihabara and other districts - again, there's so much to do. One day we'll take a trip out to see Fuji, probably from the pagoda as it looks stunning, and the Fuji-Q theme park. I've also requested we go to Diver City shopping centre, where there's a big Gundam robot, before heading to the nearby (possibly next door) Fuji TV. There's an observation deck at Fuji TV with views over Tokyo Bay and the rainbow bridge, plus I'm sure I saw online they have shops dedicated to One Piece and Dragon Ball there too. We'll of course also have to do the Shibuya crossing, where any given red light, 1000 people can cross at once in all directions - you've probably seen it in many movies, such as Tokyo Drift.

and finally Anata no shashin o totte mo īdesu ka?

If you're local to Kyoto, Osaka or Tokyo (i will be in these places the longest) and fancy doing some portrait images with a British photographer on the street, it's an experience I'd love to have while out there. I'll of course do them for free, and I'm happy to consider paying a model if TFP (I give my time for free, and you give your time for free, so we can both get images for our portfolios, or just for the experience) isn't something that occurs in Japan, then by all means point me in the right direction. I've started to follow a few people on my Instagram who may be able to help. Please message me there if you come across this, and it sounds fun to you! Arigatou Gozaimasu

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