Winter in Aizu

Last weekend about a metre of snow fell over two days. It was amazing, neither of us had ever experienced anything like it! Digging our way out from the front door to the road was tough, but just look how beautiful it is. We went totally snap-happy just in the area around our house, I've never felt like such a tourist in my whole life! Here are just two of the many shots, the first one taken at the shrine next door to our house, and the second one is of the shrine from the road looking all snuggly.

For a non-photographer like myself though, it's impossible to capture the scene and those special magical moments. I found these photos quite disappointing, and even going outside the next day was a let down. It was nothing compared to the way I'd remembered it in my head. I just kept thinking, surely it was so much more beautiful than this! I even started the think that I imagined it all, that it was just a big pile of frozen water and nothing to have been so excited about in the first place.

Today however, we happened to end up in an art gallery in the nearby town of Yanaizu, a gallery completely devoted to the work of a print maker called Kiyoshi Saito. He was born in Aizu Bange in 1907 but moved to Hokkaido when he was a still a small boy. Later on when he came back to visit his hometown, he was totally blown away by its beauty and began making a series of prints of Aizu. He was still making prints of Aizu in his late 80's - today we saw over 100 from the Winter in Aizu series. With these he was able to achieve what I was trying so unsuccessfully to do a few days ago in my shutterbug fever. He got it! He captured the magic! The prints are beautiful. But even better than that, they show the landscape looking just the way I felt that I had first seen it. On the hour or so in the car on the way home, the landscape around us transformed itself; the houses, mountains, trees and rivers becoming Kiyoshi Saito's Aizu, and again I was able to see everything that was beautiful about it. I'm so happy.

Winter in Aizu (100) Mishima 1992

Winter in Aizu (46) Oishida 1981

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