The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Japan - MICHELLE ROWE

WHEREelse in the world could a gi­ant bronze spi­der sit as eas­ily in the land­scape as a 14m-high med­i­tat­ing Bud­dha? Ja­pan’s strik­ing con­trasts — from salary­men rush­ing to squeeze on to Tokyo’s high-speed sub­way to the se­date rit­u­als of an an­cient tea cer­e­mony in Ky­oto — are the fo­cus of this stun­ning photo es­say, the re­sult of seven years’ work by pho­tog­ra­pher Iago Co­razza and doc­u­men­tary writer and film­maker Greta Ropa. It’s a joy­ous and colour­ful insight into this na­tion of ex­tremes, in­clud­ing all the usual sus­pects (close-ups of nappy-clad sumo wrestlers, geisha in their stark white face paint, the star­tling, ul­tra­vi­o­let hair and gothic garb of Hara­juku’s ec­cen­tric teens) jux­ta­posed with a se­ries of portraits of a lesser-known sub­cul­ture. The an­cient artis­tic form of kin­baku, or Ja­panese bondage, as de­picted by a game young lass dan­gling from the ceil­ing in one shot, looks a lit­tle un­com­fort­able.

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