A snapshot of Kyoto with photographer Som Nurarak

A train station platform at night

The Bangkok member gives a glimpse of the seat of traditional Japanese culture as it was before the start of the pandemic

By Gavin Yeung    Images courtesy of Som Nurarak   Friday 27 November, 2020

‘When I travel I really love to go somewhere peaceful – I want to escape, but I also want to feel secure at the same time,’ says stylist, photographer and Bangkok member Som Nurarak. ‘I first visited Kyoto five years ago with my family when we were going to Osaka. I walked past [the district of Arashiyama] and I decided there that I had to come back to this place one day.’
A glove on a grey floor
A bare tree against a grey sky

‘I feel like the beauty of Kyoto lies at the intersection of the new and old, nature and the city’

Some traffic cones on a black and white floor
A swan by some water
Nurarak found herself back in Kyoto under vastly different circumstances in January, during a solo trip on the eve of the pandemic, capturing the vestiges of a now-bygone era on film. A lone glove on the floor of her hotel’s elevator, a single white crane by the edge of the Kamo River, a security guard caught in a moment of isolation off a main shopping street; Nurarak’s images of solitary figures and remnants of human presence carry a sense of foreboding for what was to come.
A grey sky over an industrial setting
She alternates between 35mm and medium-format cameras, relying on cross-processing in the darkroom to lend some of the images a stark, otherworldly hue.

Despite the fraught atmosphere underpinning her last trip, Nurarak’s fondness for Kyoto as a place of escape remains unchanged. ‘I feel like the beauty of Kyoto lies at the intersection of the new and old, nature and the city.’

A man stood by a postbox in the morning sun
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