I first came in contact with Japanese culture through my grandfather, who was stationed in Okinawa during the Korean war first, and the Vietnam war later.
He managed to bring back many souvenirs with him, which he gladly shared with me. Among a few kanji and learning books was a set of hanafuda playing cards, a sumi-e ink paiting set, a few furoshiki cloths, a pair of tiny getas and a few woodblock prints and ink paintings.
I was no older than seven at the time when he first showed me all these things, and I was able to find more souvenirs when a few years later I went to visit him in the United States.
The peculiar fact are the feelings I felt when dealing with those objects for the first time: they somewhat resonated within me, almost like the effort of an old person trying to recall something buried deep in its memories.
Here and there, I began to study a little bit of Japanese history, anthropology and art, aware of the fact I’d just be scratching the surface of a much more complex culture. The familiarity of it all, however, kept resonating within me.
I never developed an obsession for it, rather it was something that simply and peacefully made sense into my mind.
On December 2014, I finally made it to Japan. I had found a job as an English teacher for a small private school in the town of Seki, Gifu Prefecture. It was my chance to verify if all that familiarity was either true or just an illusion. Given my lack of experience, it ended up being something in between: during my eight months stay, unexpected elements did catch me by surprise, but there was no shock, rather joy and gratitude, as if the old person from my aforementioned comparison did actually manage to remember something long forgotten.
These pictures are a careful selection from a visual diary where such feelings are not immediately evident, but present nonetheless.