Matsuo Basho on Kyoto

“In Kyoto,
hearing the cuckoo,
I long for Kyoto.“

Sakura – cherry blossom of Japan

“If I were asked to explain the Japanese spirit, I would say it is wild cherry blossoms glowing in the morning sun!”
— Motoori Norinaga –

Sakura, Japan

Sakura, Japan

The hanami (sakura viewing) period in Japan is almost over, but hard to forget! Here are some photographs to keep your memories alive…or to get you inspired for the next year!

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Sakura, cherry blossom

Sakura, cherry blossom

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“The cherries’ only fault: the crowds that gather when they bloom”
— Saigyo –

Monkey busines

Japanese Macaque Nagano, Japan

Japanese Macaque baby (Macaca fuscata) in hot spring covering its face, Jigokudani National Park, Japan

Japanese Macaques, or Snow Monkey (Macaca fuscata) is a species native to Japan. It is the most northern-living non-human primate. During my two-year stay in Japan I had several opportunities to meet these lovely creatures. The most rewarding, in term of photography, was the one in Jigokudani Monkey Park in the Japan Alps where the following photographs were made.

 

Feeling safe in Japan

Japanese Macaque Nagano, Japan

Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) soaks in hot spring while carrying her baby, Jigokudani National Park, Japan

I have photographed Japanese Macaques all around Japan during the past ten years, but the ones living in the proximity of hot baths were by far the most photogenic. I spent a few days with these cute creatures in Jigokudani National Park of the Japan Alps, Nagano, and was lucky to have several babies around. This little one, sitting on its mother’s back in the middle of water pool shows eyes full of fear, yet symbolizes maternal security.

Matsuo Basho on Japan

“Another year is gone
a traveler’s shade on my head,
straw sandals at my feet.”

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Matsuo Bashō was the famous Japanese poet (and not so famous traveler) of the 17th century. Travelling alone, off the beaten path, not only did he manage to escape all the dangers of medieval Japan; he thoughtfully preserved his observations, travel sketches and also his wisdom in numerous books. “The Narrow Road”, “Bashō’s Journey”, “Bashō’s Haiku”, “On Love and Barley” – to name a few that have been translated into English.


Here are some of his beautiful haiku, proverbs and saying accompanied by my photographs that I took when I lived in Japan (knowing my images cannot do justice to his words).

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“Between our two lives
there is also the life of
the cherry blossom.”

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“Winter solitude-
in a world of one colour
the sound of the wind.”

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“There is nothing you can see
that is not a flower;
there is nothing you can think
that is not the moon.”

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“How I long to see
among dawn flowers,
the face of God.”

Japanese tourists Jizo statues Nikko, Japan

“Every day is a journey,
and the journey itself is home.”

Ryuzu waterfalls autumn Nikko, Japan

“The temple bell stops
but I still hear the sound
coming out of the flowers.”

Trees in the mist, Japan

“This autumn-
why am I growing old?
bird disappearing among clouds.”