I. Japanese walkabouts

Between traditions and modernity

Mix of technology and ancient traditions, Japan is a land of contrasts that has attracted me since my youth. In mid 2015, at the end of several years of study which left me full of questions about the future, I decid to go alone on a journey across the country. I wander for six months through Kyûshû, Honshû, Okinawa, Shikoku. I discover traditions, food and some very specific aspects of Japanese culture. And faces the language barrier and the weight of history. I also do several volunteer work, in a small family inn, on a very small dairy farm and on a tiny, almost self-contained farm. I discover the country on foot and by public transport. I even work in a refractory factory. A great chance to discover how Japanese work. I also take the opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the last temples and shrines and visit the Ghibli museum. A special journey. I left the country in a hurry but I plan to return in the near future.
Keywords: discovery, temples and shrines, onigiri, Buddhism, volcanoes, wwoofing, onsen, hiking, islands, studio Ghibli, mythology and yokais, geishas, nuclear bomb, cultural identity, misunderstanding.

Nine months – November 2019 to July 2020 – Japan


Mitaka, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Last days in Japan

My stay in Japan is coming to an end and I take this opportunity to stroll around Tokyo and visit the Ghibli museum.

Osaka, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Across the Kansai

Discovery of Osaka and Nara then weekend on Mount Koya-san before returning to TYK to celebrate hanami.

Takayama, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Takayama matsuri

Stars in my eyes at the superb Takayama Matsuri dedicated to the celebration of spring and good harvests.

Kyoto, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Glimpse of Kyoto

For my last day of work at TYK, I was treated to an organized day trip to Kyoto.

Kachigawa, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

In company of Polina

Meet Polina and her family, a young Russian woman working at TYK whom I met a fortnight before the end of my stay in Tajimi.

Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Touches of Spring in Tajimi

Second month of work in Tajimi more pleasant than the first and return of the buds and flowers in the trees.

TYK, Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Portraits of TYK

Portraits of some of the people I met during my two months of work at TYK.

Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Tajimi and ceramics

Tajimi, an industrial city located in the prefecture of Gifu is renowned for its ceramics. I am working here since the beginning of February.

Yufuin, Kyûshû, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Wwoofing in Yufuin

A month of volunteering in the middle of the onsen smokes in the small Youth Hostel Country Road.

Yufuin, Kyûshû, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Arrival on Kyûshû

Arrival on Kyûshû, cradle of Japanese civilization, where I will spend the month of December.

Minami, Shikoku, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Minami, facing the sea

On the south coast of Shikoku, the small town of Minami exudes tranquility and a maritime atmosphere.

Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

First steps on Shikoku

Arrival in Tokushima on the island of Shikoku, the smallest of the four big islands of Japan.


Kyoto, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Six months in Japan

Six months in Japan. Six months of familiarity and strangeness. Misunderstanding and wonder. Contrasts.

Kyoto, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

The art of Kimono

I walk in Kyoto, my eyes dazzled by explosions of colors and varied patterns wandering in front of me. The Kimonos are out.

TYK, Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Another vision of TYK

Through twenty photographs, a stroll to discover the factory and its graphic aspect.