Roy Fraser – Hokkaido… A trip of a lifetime!
Many years ago I came across the black and white work of an English photographer called Michael Kenna. The first images of his that I saw were from Hokkaido, the most Northern Island of Japan. I was totally blown away with his photographs as well as this very unusual landscape. I decided that Hokkaido was somewhere I really needed to visit. The cost is quite high to make this trip and I knew it would have to be a ‘trip of a lifetime’!
Last year I decided to turn the dream into reality and made arrangements to visit in January 2020 for 10 days of shooting. Michael Kenna worked with a local guide for most of his trips called Tsuyoshi Kato (Tsu) who knew all the best places to visit across Hokkaido.
Many of the locations are on private farmland and Tsu was able to speak to farmers and obtain their agreement for us to access their land. Having a local guide is, in my opinion, essential as roads are thick with snow, sign posts unreadable and he knew of loads of local eateries where we could stop for lunch.
These images in my e-book were taken during this very harsh winter where temperatures can be -20 degrees! Mostly though, we worked in a milder temperature of -6/ -8 degrees! The landscape is covered in deep snow and the lakes are completely frozen.
This landscape is dotted with lonely trees, wire framed wintering greenhouses, fishing boats on the seashore and a host of other great compositions for a landscape photographer to explore. The snow looked pristine… just like icing on a cake, with absolutely no footprints to distract the eye.
I’m also grateful for the photographic input from another photographer whose work I greatly admire who lead this trip. Bruce Percy’s work is mainly in a de-saturated colour palette. Bruce shoots on film just like Michael Kenna and uses Hasselblad equipment as well, so there are great similarities to their approach to shooting on Hokkaido. They are even friends!