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Yoichi Watanabe’s journey into the forests in winter.
Based in Niseko in Hokkaido, one of Japan’s (and East Asia’s) most popular winter-sports regions, Yoichi Watanabe is deeply familiar with the local mountains, their vegetations, their seasons, their forests.
“The reason I take photographs of the forest is because that is where the snow falls, and I am a skier. With my skis on, and the trees and plants safely hidden by snow, the winter forest becomes a place where I can choose my desired path with freedom.”
His photobook “The Essence of the Winter Forest”, designed by Satoshi Machiguchi, documents the state of the forest during winter. Watanabe journeys deep and long to capture the diverse visual dynamic inherent to the season often associated with stillness or even death.
“To me, the forest is not just something to watch but a place of activity. With my skis on, and the trees and plants safely hidden by snow, the snow-covered forest becomes a place where I can choose my desired path with freedom.”
Watanabe’s photographs pay as much attention to the forest as a possible space for human activity as he does regarding its role as a (now dormant) ecosystem, shaped by processes and events that happened in the far past.
“To me, in this era of undeniable global climate change, immersion in this landscape is something that will never lose its appeal. Placing myself deep amongst nature I can feel the absolute totality of creation.
Being in the winter forest is where my creativity flows. It is the place, so important to me, that allows me to create my photographs.”
(quotes from Yoichi Watanabe’s afterword (included in Japanese & English translation) and artist statement)