Have you ever read ‘In Praise of Shadows’ by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki? He speaks about the Japanese appreciation of shadows and subtlety, and I think that this picture captures this sentiment. The contrast between the dark shadows that line the streets against the light reflecting off the car and emanating from the shop windows is, for me, something that I have only ever noticed and considered beautiful in Japan. I have plenty of photographs of the beautiful temples around Kyoto, and these are, of course, hugely enticing for studying abroad in Kyoto. Truth be told, I think that a photograph of the temples here would be great for winning this photo competition to draw in prospective students. And yet, I wanted to enter this photo, which shows no temple, and yet is quintessentially Japanese in a way that is difficult to explain…but I will try!
Though I initially chose to study in Kyoto for its beautiful temples and rich history, this photo shows the subtle reasons why I continue to love studying in Kyoto. Walking down the busy streets lined with old buildings and welcoming shopfronts as the sun sets in the distance over the mountains – it’s something that I fall in love with every time I see it.
So, I wanted to show people this 日常生活, because no matter which country you choose to study in, you can travel to their tourist attractions and cultural sites. But on most days, students will be travelling to-and-from university, which can become mundane. I have studied at six Universities and in my experience, Kyoto is the only place that I have found beauty in the everyday – my commute, my evening walks, and even my trips to the supermarket are never without a small smile as I appreciate my surroundings. This is what makes Japan a truly unique place to study.