Japanese photographer Nao Nakai’s book “The Time Ruled by Snow” is the culmination of many winters spent photographing in Tsunan in Niigata prefecture, one of the regions with the heaviest snowfall on earth. Initially attracted to the area’s heavy, humid snow that dominates not only the landscape but the entirety of life here, Nakai began to photograph this land of snow and its people.
With its photographs of snow-covered fields, green and fern-covered mountains, thick forests and head-on, formulaic portraits of people’s faces, “The Time Ruled by Snow” is not merely a picturesque photobook about the beauty of snow but an ambitious portrait of the region, its people and its cycle of vibrant life and solemn quiet that captures something deeper about the ways our world is shaped by a deep, intricate web of relationships between time and nature.
“When the degree of change exceeds a certain point, it undergoes an explosive transformation. The hollow becomes an opening to the outside, through which time emerges with colors, sounds, and smells, twisting and forcing its way forward, while plants and animals—transcending species and categories—overlap and merge as one life. Time invigorates nature and people.
It was 8000 years ago that snow began to fall on this land. The strata have proven it. Earthenware shows how people's lives and culture mutated in response to snow. A forest of large and small trees, twisted by snow, creates the illusion of constant swaying. Even after the land returns to its original state, the traces of the villages and rice fields never cease to speak of the past.”
― from Nao Nakai’s afterword (included in Japanese and in English translation)