Last year on Deep Kyoto we posted a short series of Kyoto-based photographer profiles. Each photographer was challenged to choose just five of their own favorite pictures from Kyoto and tell us a little bit about why they chose them. It’s time to reboot that series! This month I’ve asked Australian foodie Jane Lawson to accept the challenge. Though Jane is not technically resident in Kyoto, she has visited this city so many times over the last three decades that I figured I could bend the rules. Also, her pictures are fantastic! Jane says,
Ok, of course choosing just 5 of my favourite images was near impossible – I must admit to feeling somewhat unhealthily attached to all documented vision of my days wandering beautiful Kyoto. Each moment is special to me for one reason or another – I probably wouldn’t feel compelled to snap away at it otherwise. To make it easy on myself I decided to theme this selection in ode to my favourite season and the most magnificent Kyoto winter earlier this year. We don’t get much snow in Australia so it was an absolute treat to experience a particularly white winter – mother nature gave a rather generous sprinkling in 2011.
I shot winter patterns on busy Sanjo Dori but it could have been deep in a remote forest. The moody imagery and pattern takes me back to researching one of my books in Scandinavia. I love the contrast of black and white and the shadows of grey in between.
I am not a professional photographer but I adore playing with my camera and learning as I go. It took about 50 shots to capture a decent representation of what I was seeing in front of me. Snowflakes were flying into my lens and everything I took was just a blur until this shot. It was an image I really wanted to be able to share so was very happy when I was finally successful. I feel this pic gives a sense of being within the falling snow – I can almost hear the muffled sounds and feel the cold flakes on my shoulders when I look at this shot.
I took the train with a friend to a restaurant on Lake Biwa for lunch – we arrived early and while we were waiting a local beckoned us into a hidden park to see the view. It was breathtaking and again, looked curiously more like fairytale Europe than Japan. Snow temporarily morphs or highlights even the most simple things and I particularly love the way it muffles sound. When I walked around the streets near my Kyoto apartment it was as though the whole place had been given a frosty makeover. Everything seemed so unfamiliar that I found myself getting lost just minutes from home.
When it is freezing outside there are few things more comforting than sitting in a Kyoto café with great music and a mug of something warm. This girl looked great against the glass panels in the café and her furry hat left no question as to the state of the weather. She was so hypnotised by the simple gesture of warming her hands on her cup and cooling its contents down enough to drink it that she didn’t notice me directly in front of her taking the shot.
Many things we don’t normally see come to light in the snow – nature’s “magic marker”. While I suspect many people would not consider this a desirable shot -for me there is something quite poetic about it -a fleeting trace of recent history soon to be written over and a clear demonstration and reminder of impermanence. On a far more basic level I love the streak of colour from the moving taxi next to the still stampings of black and white.
Jane Lawson is a food writer and the author of the following cookbooks: Snowflakes and Schnapps, Yoshoku: Contemporary Japanese, Cocina Nueva, A Little Taste of Japan, and Grub: Favourite Food Memories all published by Murdoch Books – with another book on Japanese food and culture to be released in 2012. She also has a blog called EATspeak in which she writes about her life as a roving foodie. Jane has been travelling to Japan regularly for 27 years, but Kyoto is her favourite town: “Kyoto feels more home than home to me and I try to spend as much time there as I possibly can.”