Toshio Shibata Juocho

Juocho, Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture, 2008

"When I started out, the only photos I had seen were in newspapers. There was no photography in museums or art galleries in Japan. Then, in 1979, I went to a photography exhibition in Paris, and was amazed to see people actually buying photos.

When I returned to Japan, I started taking photos showing the contrast between our infrastructure and the nature around it. At the time, Japan was a messy mixture of western culture and old Japanese tradition. It was not a photogenic place, so I chose to focus on finding the beauty in non-photogenic structures, the stuff most photographers would ignore.

I often find places to photograph simply by accident, like this bridge. I shot it in 2007, when I was driving around Kōchi prefecture, in southern Japan . It’s near a small logging village called Ōkawa. It was drenched in golden, late afternoon light, so I parked and got my big tripod out of the car. The sun was going down quickly, behind the mountain and the bridge, so I had to hurry. I set down my camera and snapped away. Without warning, the light disappeared and the moment was gone.

Like a lot of my images, it’s beautiful by accident."