Originally published on PassionPassport.com
It was the contrast that struck him. Between the fast, noisy, hectic cities and the delicate, peaceful gardens and green spaces.
Chaos and calm. Those are the two things photographer Thibaut Buccellato wanted to capture when he visited Japan.
Thibaut knew Japan was different than his home country, France, and that’s why he was drawn to the island nation.
In his two weeks there, he couldn’t help but notice the differences.
The Japanese were helpful and kind in a way he rarely saw in Parisians. They were actually willing to help tourists find their way, not just point in a general direction.
And the cities were full of technology in Japan. Television screens covered the sides of buildings and hung inside the subway cars. Paris wasn’t nearly that high-tech.
Thibaut noticed the garbage, or lack thereof. In Paris, there were cigarettes and wrappers on the ground every 10 meters and the metro stations were caked with dirt. Not in Japan. In Japan the streets were clean and the subway stations pristine.
On his first day in Tokyo, as he came out of the subway station at Shibuya, everything hit Thibaut at once.
The sounds. The blinding sunlight. The faces of hundreds of people. The city.
Everything was moving so fast and Thibaut could feel the city around him in a physical way. It was intense.
He couldn’t help but think, Wow. I’m in Tokyo now.
As Thibaut explored Shibuya, he noticed that there were small moments happening all around him.
People kissing in the middle of the crosswalk. A taxi driver sleeping in his car. A man holding a sign advertising free hugs. People dancing.
There was so much going on around him and he was moving silently in the middle of it all.
As he walked, he tried to capture the unpredictable moments he was witnessing, stopping now and then to take a photo before moving on.
Thibaut says the peaceful side of France doesn’t exist until you get out of Paris and into the countryside. But while he was in Japan, he found the peaceful side in parks within city limits.
The unpredictable moments existed there too, but they were delicate.
Women walking through the bamboo forest. A man napping on a bench. Deer grazing. Written wishes hanging in the breeze.
When Thibaut escaped the cities and traded skyscrapers for trees in the parks of Tokyo or countryside outside of Kyoto, he found silence.
Once, in the shadow of the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Thibaut found himself comparing the tall trees to the skyscrapers back in Tokyo.
The bamboo trees had become the buildings. He’d replaced one dominating skyline for another.
Thibaut has a hard time seeing his work with fresh eyes because he can’t look at a photo without envisioning the moments right before and right after.
In a way, the photos become his best souvenirs.