more than meets the eye: japan.
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Despite the notion that many of us see Japan as a place of technology, anime and video games, the substance of the country runs so much deeper. On the outside it is not so dissimilar to many western countries – despite being so far away from any English speaking land and surrounded by sea – but if you look closer, you are greeted with a society of elaborate traditions, rich cultural history and superhuman work ethic.
When you travel around the nation it quickly becomes apparent that the Japanese are incredibly dedicated to their work, to the point of reaching exhaustion. Of course there are stories of white collar workers falling asleep under desks to the praise of their superiors, but it was also worryingly common to see business men and women enter a train carriage and fall asleep as soon as the wheels began turning again.
Owing to how much energy the Japanese put into their work, it is somewhat surprising the richness of culture and tradition the country holds, and the time dedicated to customs. Asking residents in small towns and even large cities about a local dish or a sacred sight meets with eagerness and immense pride; from sushi and sumo wrestling to the perfect ramen and the traditional geishas, all are admired and bring pleasure to the locals and tourists alike. The care and precision that the Japanese put into their everyday lives comes out with even more prominence in their religious customs; from bowing the right number of times to asking for the right future at the right temple, everything is done with care and grace.
Japan, it would seem, is a country striving for perfections in all areas of life, and for a country that works so hard and takes culture and religion so seriously it’s no wonder the pace of life seems that little bit quicker than the rest of the world, but it’s these small moments, capturing the country’s united passions, that makes it worthwhile.
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where two shores meet: bondi.
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“Life is a beach” or so the saying goes, but what does that say of the beach?
Indeed, Bondi Beach, one of the world’s most famous beaches, on the Australian New South Wales coast is teeming with life of all descriptions. It epitomizes the Australian summer; blue blue water, towels sprawling, sand buckets filling and the beating sun. The long stretch of sand, made internationally popular by the TV series Bondi Rescue, has in the past few years become bursting with people. Although the beach is only roughly one kilometer long, bodies spill out onto the rocks that frame the sand, and further still onto the walk from Bondi to Coogee – one continuous line of people.
On a burning day in summer it’s hard to find a square meter of sand to lay your towel, but even on a day in mid spring the place is buzzing, vibrant; you feel energized by simply taking a slow stroll along the edge of sand and sea. Those that enjoy that first chilly rush drive into the waves, as well as tourists that braved the still winter-like water just so they can say they have swum at Australia’s most famous beach.
But becoming popular has it’s drawbacks, “It’s become commercialised” one local, Gabi, says. She has been here for almost 20 years and as tourists gradually descended on this National Heritage listed location, the beach lost a little of it’s individuality and charm, more and more local shops disappeared and the town became noticeably busier. Gabi says she enjoys the hustle and bustle, otherwise she wouldn’t live here “I like the fact that you can walk any direction for five minute and you can be at a great coffee shop, or buy some nice bread or whatever it is [but] I think, maybe, when I retire I might go somewhere quieter.”
It’s a place full of contrasts; locals strolling the shore in a state of meditative calm and international tourist furiously snapping pictures and licking ice-creams; those pushing eighty beating through the waves out to sea and children running away from the chasing waves as they break across the shore; Bright pink sunburn and beautifully dark skin; women – fully covered complete with headscarves or wandering though the sun worshiping crowds with scantily covering bikinis – neither of which give the other a second glance.
Adi, A man in his late thirties, approaches with his camera, asking for a photo with the waves and swimmers behind him. Although he has the sand between his toes he is wearing full-length jeans, rolled up around his ankles and a dark button up shirt; this is his first time to Bondi. A businessman from India, Adi is working in Newcastle for a few months. He is at the beach by himself and the most he says is that it is “very good”. He wanders off, one of the masses, and continues to take photos, of seagulls, surfers and anything else that comes into view.
This isn’t just any beach it would seem, it’s life compounded.
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home, is a beautiful thing.
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taking to the streets of melbourne, this piece approaches strangers throughout the city and explores and captures in few words what home means to them. from strong family connections to finding a place you belong, everyone’s idea of home is different…
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