村上仁一 写真集 雲隠れ温泉行
KUMOGAKURE ONSEN : Reclusive Travels
limited edition of 700 copies
104 pages, 91 black & white plates
print on cloth ; hardcover
text ; Japanese and English
book design ; Katsuya Kato
size ; 225mm x 270mm x 15mm
roshin books 2015
release date ; 1 June 2015
20代後半の一時期，私には俗世間からの失踪願望があった（あとがきより）。 誰しもが自分の行く末の頂点と限界をぼんやりと思い描いてしまう３０歳を前にして、写真家 村上は温泉へと逃避した。光とそこにできる影、そして吹きあがり立ちこめる湯気。高感度の粗い粒子で描かれた温泉地は、この世から遠く離れた彼岸の様相を呈している。そこは村上が逃避の末に迷い込んだ、自らの鬱屈が投影された非現実の世界である。
There was a time in my late 20's when I had a desire to disappear from the plane of worldly affairs. Kumogakure has no direct translation in English. It means to be hidden by clouds, shrouded, invisible. No longer able to endure my world and he affairs that surrounded it, I spent two years wandering blindly through fog-draped Hokkaido and Tohoku.
The same volcanic activity that gave birth to Japan is the source of its hot springs, called onsen in Japanese. The onsen depicted in this book are but a minuscule fraction of the 3,000 hot springs that are said to exist across the archipelago.
By chance I became fascinated with the natural steam clouds that rise from these curative, restorative onsen. Springs vary in Japan - there are naturally warmed hot springs, mineral springs, hidden springs, watering places, and small, ancient spa towns. No matter what the type, anywhere is fine so long as you have hot springs and name. The banal and the extraordinary meet at these springs, as do life and death. They heal both locals and travelers. These hot springs are suffused with nostalgia and afford the pleasure of unique visual experiences. These are the places I rambled through, taking photographs.
As I traveled through these places, I dreamt of a transcendental self beyond my own identity. Flooded with memories of experiences I had never had, encompassed by all emotions, I felt a tremendous longing for a self from unknown times that was without gender or age, raised and nurtured in and among these unknown mountain settlements and seaside towns.
The photos within this book were completed in 2003. More than a decade later they undeniably reflect what I saw on my travels. However, as time passes, they have gradually begun to feel to me as though they were taken by someone else, from a different world.
Sorting through these photos in making this book, I realized that deep within me there is a dark flashpoint that has no place to go. I'll probably return to my reclusive travels among the hot springs. I hope that perhaps this book will become as ephemeral as smoke, seeming to disappear upon publication, only to be met again decades from now through chance and the joy of a reader.
1977, born in Tokyo
Currently a photographer and editor