De Montfort student Michael Asante spent the month of July in Japan. Here he talks about being lost in translation, his camera dying and capturing the (not always) perfect moment.
Michael - great to have you with us. So, what was it like being in Japan - a country where you'd never visited, and where you didn't speak the language fluently?
Before visiting, I had grasped conversational skills through the help of many of my friends, so it was a bit of a strange/unique experience, in the sense that I had to put what I know to the test as I traveled there by myself. As the population is mainly Japanese, seeing other foreigners became a bit of a surprise at times, almost like a game. The people were kind and accepting, they would help me if I had any questions and sometimes they would strike
conversation with me. Sometimes when travelling, I would be the only foreigner on the train, that experience is quite interesting in itself.
What aspects of Japanese culture did you try to capture in your photographs?
Through my photographs, I mainly wanted to experiment with the connection between my friends and their natural and cultural backgrounds. As my friends took me around the places they call ‘Home’, I was able to take pictures, which in a sense reveal that connection.
What equipment did you use to take the photos?
I borrowed my friend and photography partner in crime’s Nikon D5100 and I used two cheap disposable cameras.
The photos have a look of spontaneity adventure in them - did it feel like that when you were taking the photos?
Yes, I felt like a lot of my pictures were quite spontaneous, after taking them, I doubted whether I would even like the end products. The whole trip itself had an air of spontaneity, as I was only able to afford this trip due to receiving accommodation rent refunds.
Can you explain to us a little bit about your favourite photo, how you took it, and what it means to you?
This is my favorite photo, as I feel as a whole, it encompasses what I set out to do in Japan: meet new people, see my friends, learn about the culture and visit as many places as I could in as much time as I had. Although I didn’t take it as an experimental photograph, I believe this picture encompasses this spontaneity.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to go to France again, visit Hong Kong next and South Korea one day. I must return to Japan again in the near future. Once I graduate and attain a BA in Architecture, I would like to study MA Architecture in the Kansai Region of Japan but along the way, I would like to create and dabble in other forms of art and collaborate with as many artists, designers and photographers as possible.
(Click on each image to enlarge)
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