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Manmade, Naturally: A Month in Hokkaido, Japan


Known for its volcanoes, hot springs and natural landscapes, Japan's second-largest island is unlike any other part of the country. I wanted to step away from Japan's busy city stereotypes, while exploring my own personal relationship with Hokkaido. There's an element of serenity in being away from the city and, with it, a different pace of life. People interact with their natural surroundings differently here, and I too felt inspired by a fresh perspective.

Being drawn to architecture and design details, I was keen to explore the interaction between natural and manmade elements, and how this relationship can enhance our enjoyment of the landscape. This is most strikingly evident in Japanese architect Tadao Ando's Hill of Buddha shrine. Concealed by an artificial hill in Makomanai Takino Cemetery, the 13.5m-tall concrete statue of Buddha crowned by a halo of sky is a sight to behold.

The landscapes are vast here. Dams appear carved into the hillside, bolstering lakes of epic proportions. Buddha statues stand tall in vast fields of green. Such features represent Japan's push-pull relationship with nature as they battle to contain the elements. Back in Tokyo, I know that I will return to Hokkaido again. I look forward to seeing how the landscapes and colours transform with the seasons, and how these manmade elements respond to the changes in nature.

As featured on the Suitcase Magazine Photo Journals.
Find out more via suitcasemag.com

Photography by Ben Richards