I first had the opportunity to travel in Asia when I was an exchange student in Thailand in 2002. I boarded an airplane to Thailand, by way of Taipei. As I descended the stairs to the tarmac at Don Muang Airport, the feeling of the air that clung to me let me know that I had arrived in a country that was not Japan.
From the window of the minivan that took me from the airport to the town center, I looked out on the thick clouds, the cluster of glass high-rise buildings, the gold colored Buddhist temples, the continuous wave of cars… These sights are burned into my memory even today.
Even after returning to Japan, the lingering flavor of my former life in Thailand was like a magnet. Just as the needle of a compass points north, whenever I had time off, my body naturally started gravitating to the south. As extended trips were difficult for me due to my job, however, I never felt when traveling as great an emotion with respect to the places I visited than I had in the past, nor was I interested in pursuing a documentary rooted in the lifestyle of the local people.
I flew by plane, sailed by ship, transferred by bus, was picked up by cabs, visited sightseeing spots, enjoyed markets, found the sea, and got lost in alleys. Whether it was people or scenery, I saw the heat of Asia behind the physical subjects. Following my instincts, I enjoyed the continually changing brilliance, taking snapshots that reflected unpredictable possibilities.
Looking back on it, from 2008 to 2013, I travelled intermittently through eight countries, photographing each. First Thailand, then Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, Laos, and Singapore.
A voyage in the tropics for me is equivalent to an ever changing kaleidoscope, without beginning or end. Perhaps the lingering flavor of the tropics remains with me still, but for now, I would like to contain it in the form of this "Nangoku-Kaleido (Tropical Kaleidoscope)".
- Noboru Taguchi