Trying to save money to support a gear addiction is tough, and requires a lot of patience and asceticism. I love to travel, and I recently took a trip to Taiwan and the Philippines in August, but since I’ve decided to start saving my money, recently I’ve been staying home. I’m currently living on a small island chain off of the coast of Nagasaki here:
The islands are one of the only places (if not the only) that has a high Catholic population here in Japan. There are many churches scattered throughout the islands, and the Nagasaki area, some of which are on UNESCO’s tentative list. They are really beautiful and also serve as a tourist attraction, boosting the local economy.
When I think of traveling I usually think of leaving the country, or getting off of the island to go somewhere on the mainland. This time, in order to save money, I took a 780 yen boat ride to an island just north of me to take some pictures.
I went to the island with no plans really. Not knowing what to expect. When I arrived I checked a map, and decided to head out towards the nearest church. I got there and started taking pictures, and then ran into a group of kids who were waiting for a sister to arrive so that they could begin bible study. I know that may sound normal for people reading this coming from Christian nations, but that is really quite outside of the norm here in Japan, for several reasons. First, Christianity is not a major religion here in Japan. Most people will say that they are Buddhist, but their belief system usually includes some Shinto aspects as well. Also, there are no regular weekly services or bible study get-togethers for most people. People usually only visit temples or shrines for special occasions, like hatsumoude or festivals. Something interesting about the islands, is that although there are many churches, there are still a lot of temples and shrines as well, and there is no clash of ideology between either group. Beautiful, really. Also makes for a very diverse environment. Which is something rarely seen in Japan’s homogeneous society.
While photographing Hamawaki church a young boy peaked in to see what I was up. When I exited, the sister had arrived and we struck up a conversation. They asked if I wanted to see one of the other churches on the island, and then took me there and told me a bit about the island. There are only 12 kids living there, and one of them told me that I was the first foreigner he’d ever seen! Reminds me a lot of my previous home. They were very kind and I stuck around a little while afterwards to play soccer with one of the kids. The sister gave me a key chain with a flashlight and a picture of Mary on it as a momento.
I also used this time to figure out what types of things I want to photograph while here on the island and what the best use of my time would be. I’ve boiled it down to a few subjects, and I’m looking forward to showing everyone what life is like on the island, and its uniqueness. Stay tuned.
Check out my flickr photostream for more pictures.