I have a tenuous relationship with time. I’m always looking to be lost in it, to fight it, to move freely in it. To push and pull. Save it. Erase it. Who knows what’s equitable to ask of time. It never answers my letters. It just goes on. And so I travel looking for lost bits, hoping to know what it’s like to be more than a temporal being. Ancient Japan does, for a moment, make you feel outside of time. Not quite immortal. These photos were taken in and around the Kiso Valley, specifically in Tsumago and Magome. I stayed at the Fujioto Ryokan
, a beautiful inn with exceptional food. I highly recommend it. I hiked the trail between the two towns, which I also highly recommend.
I, as most of us do now, thoughtlessly use my camera to tuck the detritus of my days into my pockets. I also do photography, but I consider those two different things. The former I find pointless and rather wish I didn’t do it. A photo isn’t a memory any more than the scraps of paper and mundane talismans I keep in a little drawer in my dresser are. At best they are short hand notes, jotted down and crumpled in a pocket, maybe looked at later, maybe not.
Something far more inscrutable determines that which we remember and that which we do not. Even a photograph can become meaningless over time. Where was that? Who are those people? Why some things bob happily on the surface of our memories, form bright electric paths that spark blue through our brains, and why others sink down into the silt, forgotten, a neurological black out, I’ll never know.
These photos are artifacts I was able to create by traveling, but they are not my memories. My memories are simple. Heart sickness for my love. Overwhelming wonder at the fact that things really can be as beautiful as you always imagined. Trying to suspend reality, trying to make believe that mystical creatures and spirits inhabited the forest. Wanting someone else’s eyes to see all that I was seeing. Never wanting to leave. All I dream of is being back in the Japanese countryside, but next time with my husband. If he was there with me, it may as well be home. If you ever can, do go.