I never imagined myself traveling the world and being bitten by the “bug” but after stepping foot in Japan on my first international holiday some three years ago I felt a tremendous feeling of ease as soon as I left the plane.
Having a background in modified cars and motorsport I was originally drawn to Japan for the incredibly rich car scene, what really captured me though was the culture, people and of course food. I quickly found myself shifting from automotive photography to more street and travel images during my time here.
With three trips in total so far, I’ve barley cracked the surface of this beautiful place. Every time I come back I’m torn between exploring new areas and revisiting favourites.
I’ve been lucky enough to see the country completely transform during spring.
Each year the trees burst into life as the cherry blossoms bloom, just as the trees change so do the people around them.
Normally the parks and streets are filled with people quietly going about their day but during this special time referred to as “Hanami” everything changes.
Celebrating the start of Spring the grass is replaced by a sea of picnic matts and crowds of people gather underneath the Sakura trees. Thousands of people flock to eat and drink with friends and family each day.
Witnessing this change is truly special as it only lasts a matter of days. Just as quickly as the trees come to life, the petals fall to the ground and the streets are quiet once again. A brief but beautiful event.
On this latest trip I was given a press car from Toyota Japan to capture some images. The latest Camry is a far cry from its predecessors. Gone are the drab cloth interiors and the mundane exterior.
It’s done some growing up and is now quite a striking car which made the task of taking photos an easy one. It was also a welcome change from the tiny cars I’ve had for previous trips.
Getting out from the cities is something only the freedom of a car will truly give you. Despite the best public transport system in the world it does not run 24/7 and Japan is a surprisingly big place!
One of the highlights of this trip was exploring an abandoned theme park in Nikko.
Once known as the Western Village it now lies in tatters having been closed since 2007.
Exploring the park was a haunting experience with items seemingly left in a hurry, it looked like something out of a post-apocalyptic film. In one building with next to no light, a giant hall was filled with empty tables of food and drinks. Scattered around were human sized teddy bears. All of which looked like they could move at any moment.
In other areas life sized animatronic cowboys were left behind. An eerie reminder of the Westworld Movie and TV series.
While Japan broadened my creative eye I still try to capture something on each trip relating back to my passion for cars. I’ve been to multiple motorsport events over the years like the Nismo festival, Super GT and a few different drift events.
Shooting and writing for my own website has helped open the door and bypassed the language barrier on many different occasions. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I have been given in an otherwise closed off world.
During my time in Japan I’ve driven some incredible machines over the years. Many thanks to rental services allowing dreams to become reality if only for a couple of hours.
Highlights have been a Nissan GT-R, R34 GT-R, Honda NSX, Mazda RX-7, Datsun Hakosuka & Kenmeri Skylines. Not only have the cars been amazing but the roads are just as breathtaking. Japan is truly a driving nirvana.
About Gwyn Morgan
Gwyn lives in Melbourne Australia, currently pushing buttons on cameras is just a part time hobby but he hopes one day he might be lucky enough to earn a full time living from it.
Gwyn uses Canon camera bodies and Sigma lenses, his film camera of choice is Canon 30V with a funky feature that picks the focus point by tracking your eye movement.
Lenses include a 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.4, 24-70mm f2.8, 12-24mm f4.5
Film used was Ektar 100, Fuji 400H and fujicolour 100
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