In his series “Mura,” Japanese photographer Shota Kokuryo captures small farming and fishing villages throughout Japan. Coming to these places as an outsider, Kokuryo’s black-and-white photographs convey the experience of the village as a foreign (if friendly) place. His subjects—most of them elderly—pose for his camera in groups or alone, in front of their homes or in the midst of the fields they tend. He portrays the strong sense of community (heightened by the fact that each of Kokuryo’s images features human subjects), the palpable accumulation of traditions and local ways of life, but also the lack of modernization in rural Japan.
“When I passed through the dense forest of trees along a mountain path, I came across a small village nestled in the valley. Only the chirping of birds and the gentle flow of a stream could be heard. Suddenly, I spotted an old man by the roadside.
‘What a curious person to come all the way from Tokyo. I’m heading into the fields now. Care to join me?’ the old man said.
Despite being well past eighty, the old man briskly climbed up the steep animal trail, and after passing through the bamboo grove, we arrived at a field from where we could overlook the village.”
― from Shota Kokuryo’s afterword (text in Japanese & English)