Photographer reminds Japanese of their 'forgotten' hometowns

A Japanese photographer seeks to remind those who have moved to urban areas of the charms of daily life in their hometowns.

Takehiko Kambayashi
Japanese photographer Noriko Nakamoto poses in Onomichi, Japan.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

When photographer Noriko Naka-moto was recovering from a personal crisis, she stumbled upon Onomichi, a seaside city in western Japan that has changed little since the 1960s. She decided to live there and take photos of what she calls “forgotten Japan.”

Ms. Nakamoto has documented many aspects of locals’ daily lives, including old temples, fish peddlers, eating places, and dilapidated dwellings. While her work is of modest subjects – no celebrities or big corporations – her experience in Onomichi has enabled her to better appreciate life itself, she says. She now teaches photography to more than 100 locals.

As Japan’s decades-long economic slump hit outlying regions especially hard, more people abandoned their hometown to seek a job in an urban center.

“Many people have forgotten what their hometown had given them,” she says.

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