Capturing the Culture of Rural Japan: A Photographic Tour by Steve McCurry
In Japan, pioneering modernity meets historical traditions and tranquil rurality neighbors vibrant cityscapes. Technological innovation also coexists with humanistic spirituality. When Steve McCurry visited the Land of the Rising Sun with Silversea, one of his challenges involved illustrating the destination’s varying manifestations of beauty. This was the photographer’s 13th trip to Japan, yet his lens fell upon a truly unique subject, as if he were visiting for the very first time. Over a wintery 10-day period, McCurry traveled throughout this multifaceted country; he was greeted by friendly smiles, falling snow and futuristic flashing lights.
In Tokyo, where automation rules supreme, McCurry was absorbed by the excitement of such a high-tech metropolis. Japanese cuisine is among the photographer’s favorites, so Japan’s capital was as much an indulgence for his taste buds as it was for his other senses. In the mountains of Nyuto Onsen, where mirage-like hot springs steam away among mounds of snow, McCurry captured the prevalent connection between humans and nature, as bathers took refuge from the cold conditions. In Nagano, Japanese macaques had the same method for keeping warm; McCurry took the monkeys as his subject to illustrate an exceptional spectacle. This is the only place in the world where monkeys bathe in such a manner.
Culturally, Japan is among the richest countries in the world. From ancient crafts to age-old practices, enduring traditions and cultured celebrations, Japan’s defining features are fascinating, unique and distinguished. During his time here, McCurry time-traveled from bygone eras to the cutting-edge future, as he shook hands with each of the country’s personalities. This was not a trip that the explorer will forget anytime soon; nor was it an adventure that can be replicated precisely. Although invariably rewarding, each experience of Japan is quite original.
Capturing the Authentic Beauty of the World
Steve McCurry needs no introduction. He is most probably the greatest living photographer today. His iconic “Afghan Girl” image has captured the hearts and minds of thousands – the eloquence of her haunted expression, telling the world of her fate through her vivid green eyes – is simply stupendous.
So, when considering our new direction, Steve was a natural choice for us. He is a born storyteller with the soul of an explorer. His unique ability to capture what is left of the authentic beauty and truth in the world and express it with clarity and emotion is just brilliant. A McCurry image not only takes you on a journey, it inspires you to travel the world.
Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years. His work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike – yet always retains the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl such a powerful image.
McCurry has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the National Press Photographers Award, and four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest.