“Japan” brings together a selection of images shot by talented London photographer Cecilia Colussi. Viewers are led through a journey that introduces them to Japanese culture and identity.

The journey starts with a flash on geisha’s (geiko) life in Kyoto and continues with a collection of landscapes, urban and not, photographed between the two capitals, Tokyo e Kyoto.

The slideshow opens then a window on the experience of the sacred and profane. The fascinating and complex religious panorama of the archipelago on one side and on the other side the playful pachinko’s universe, the national pastime.

Gastronomy is a major pillar of Japanese tradition: the curious visitor can’t miss spending a morning at Tsukiji Fish Market in order to know where some of the most delicious dishes are conceived.

The journey ends with the cheerful greeting of pupils vising Hiroshima: a peace message, proving how it’s possible to restart from scratch, building a better future.


Maiko hiding from tourists behind a car glass, Gion, Kyoto

Maiko translates to ‘dancing child’, and refers to apprentice geiko (used to refer to geisha from Kyoto). They undergo about 5 years of training in various arts, before graduating to become geiko. 

According to the Western conception, the Maiko has become the symbol – even more than the geisha herself, of the famous Japanese artists and entertainers. Every day, in fact, geisha apprentices put on a very showy make-up, accompanied by flashy hairstyles and brightly coloured kimonos.

Geiko have worked inGion and Pontocho since the 1500s: around 5 or 6 pm, maiko and geisha are often on their way to an appointment at one of the houses.


Geiko walking in Gion, on her way to an appointment at one of the Geisha houses, Kyoto


Geisha-hunting tourists taking pictures of a Geiko in Gion, Kyoto


Geisha-dressed woman crossing the Red Bridge, Nikko, Japan. The Sacred Bridge (shinkyō) is a vermilion lacquered structure crossing the Daiya River and represents a gateway for Nikko.

Nikko had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu (Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine) was built in the 1600s.


Bride hiding her face with a fan, Himeji, Japan

The bride traditionally wears two outfits: the shiro, a white kimono worn for the ceremony and the uchikake kimono, a patterned brocade worn at the reception. The hair is worn in a bun and a white wedding hook called the tsuno kakushi is worn to hide the two front golden tsuno horns to symbolize obedience. The bride also carries a tiny purse (hakoseko), a small encased sword (kaiken), and a fan, worn in the obi belt, representing happiness and a happy future.

Japan is characterized by a unique civilization, flourishing today in harmonious contrast of traditional and modern. The archipelago must be discovered little by little, without ever taking anything for granted. Elements that apparently can’t be combined, such as rigor and flexibility, order and chaos, sacred and profane, harmoniously coexist in Japan. Like the two capitals, Tokyo and Kyoto, the two souls of the Japanese spirit.


Commuters using their mobile phones while traveling via Tokyo underground in rush hour. Tokyo, Japan

During the morning rush hours in Tokyo, the traffic volume on certain urban and suburban trains is so intense that passengers are pressed against each other to a degree where they are unable to move. In railway stations, passenger streams have to be neatly organized by signs, lanes and station personnel in order to keep everybody moving. 


Chuo Dori, the main street in Akihabara, Tokyo's electronic district, Japan

Akihabara, also called Akiba after a former local shrine, is a district in central Tokyo that is famous for its many electronics shops. In more recent years, Akihabara has gained recognition as the center of Japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture, and many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are now dispersed among the electronic stores in the district.

Post WWII, Akihabara Station became synonymous with a black market for radio parts and other electronics. After the 1960s and '70s when the district was the place to hunt for bargains on new and used electronics, Akihabara saw its top shopping mantle increasingly usurped by discount stores elsewhere in the city. It has long since bounced back by reinventing itself as the centre of the otaku (geek) universe, catching J-pop culture fans in its gravitational pull.


Isuien Garden in summer, with the borrowed scenery of the Nandaimon Gate and Mount Wakakusayama. Nara, Japan. Isuien means "garden founded on water", and the garden's name is derived from the fact that its ponds are fed by the small adjacent Yoshikigawa River.


The shining Kinkaku ("Golden Pavilion") is a symbol of Kyoto. It was built at the end of the 14th century originally as a villa for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the shogun at the time. After Yoshimitsu's death, as indicated in his will, the building was converted into a temple of the Zen sect of Buddhism.

The garden complex is an example of Muromachi period garden design, with at its centre the pond with the Golden Pavilion: it was designed to provide a view of different scenes while walking the pond.

The temple was named from the gold-leaf adorning the building: the gold symbolized purity and with the sun light it creates a striking reflection on the water.


Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

The Japanese have a long history with bamboo, in myths and legends, metaphorically linking a man’s strength with this plant. Many festivals also include the use of bamboo in various forms. We can see that from bamboo ice cream cups, buildings and fences. However, it is not often we get the chance to see bamboo forests in their natural state that grow thick and line the path like they do here.


Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

Walking into this extensive bamboo grove is like entering another world – the thick green bamboo stalks seem to continue endlessly in every direction and there’s a strange quality to the light.


Lanterns in Pontocho-dori by night, Gion, Kyoto

Pontocho is one of Japan's oldest surviving nightlife areas and it's hard to tell if it is caught in the 1980s, 1960s or 1640s.

The Japanese culture is permeated by religious devotion: this is an element that can’t escape to the eyes of an attentive traveler. The archipelago landscape is characterized by countless shrines, sanctuaries, large and small altars, majestic torii (Japanese traditional arches) and small statues of Jizo, the divinity responsible for protecting children and wayfarers.

Different beliefs coexist in Japan in a persistent way. Shinto and Buddhism, in particular, are the two major religions. Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the 6th century. Since then, the two religions have been co-existing relatively harmoniously and have even complemented each other to a certain degree. Most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shinto or both.


Detail of the names engraved on the torii of Fushimi Inari Taisha, Southern Kyoto, Japan.

Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings,

Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794.

The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies, and you will find the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. 

Many people in Europe are not familiar with the game of pachinko. But in Japan it is considered the number one national pastime. Pachinko are everywhere in Japan.

Even though the parlors are often crowded, the Japanese consider playing pachinko to be a personal and solitary game. They tend to not want to be disturbed by other players. Many players regard the game of pachinko as an escape from the constant requirement of being in communications with people around them. It is a way to tune out the rest of the world, and just not have to think about anything but the little shiny balls flying around.

The Tsukiji Market is one of the world's largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day. The sight of the many kinds of fresh fish and other seafood and the busy atmosphere of scooters, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around, make Tsukiji Market a major tourist attraction. Tsukiji Market consists of an inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions are taking place, and an outer market whose retail shops and restaurants cater to the public.


Pupils visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima

Before the bomb, the area of what is now the Peace Park was the political and commercial heart of Hiroshima. For this reason, it was chosen as the pilot's target. Four years to the day after the bomb was dropped, it was decided that the area would not be redeveloped but instead devoted to peace memorial facilities.

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