NIPPON” by Gwyn Morgan

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.

The view from the Tokyo Skytree (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Under the blossoms (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Admiring the Sakura in Yoyogi Park (Image by Gwyn Morgan)

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.

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Hanami season (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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2018 Toyota Camry in Gotemba (Image by Gwyn Morgan)

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!

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Feeling tiny under the giant powerlines in Gotemba (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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A weathered Toyota Corolla 86 near Mt Fuji (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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A man-made lake with Mt Fuji looming (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Daiya River, Nikko (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Tamozawa Imperial Villa, Nikko (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Lake Chuzenji, Nikko (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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A cold or hot beverage is never far away (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Mt Rushmore replica at an abandoned theme park (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Amphitheatre seating left to rot (Image by Gwyn Morgan)

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.

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A literal wild west ghost town (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Home to grassroots racing and drifting, Nikko Circuit (Image by Gwyn Morgan)

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.

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Toyota Chaser from the King of Nations drift event (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Casual drift day for the annual RB Meeting (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Another JZ powered Toyota from the King of Nations (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Some of the Japanese drifting community (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Out for the first session of the day, an RB swapped Nissan S13 (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Waiting for the action, Nikko Circuit (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Left – A road side grocer, right – The famous Torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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The heart of Japan, the train system (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Exploring the neighbourhood of Arashiyama, Kyoto (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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A couple of vintage Datsun’s at a local workshop, Hakone (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Stretching the legs of the Honda Civic Type R for the day (Image by Gwyn Morgan)

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.

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Walking the streets of Osaka (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Osaka Castle, the original castle stood for nearly 300 years (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Shopping arcade in Tanimachi, Osaka (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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Bikes line the path in Osaka Business Park (Image by Gwyn Morgan)
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The sun setting on Mt Fuji (Image by Gwyn Morgan)

About Gwyn Morgan

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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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