How did you meet "Yukio"?
It was my first year on my own.
I think it was about 12 years ago.
I had some time off from my work in Ueno, so I wandered over to the Ueno Zoo.
It's been a long time since I've been to the zoo, but it was very quiet and everyone was asleep.
I had a negative impression of the zoo until then.
I guess my bitterness about "feeling sorry for them in a cage" was greater at that time.
Thinking about this, we continued on, and arrived at the polar bear area.
When I looked up, I saw a polar bear standing upright.
Isn't he cute?
Earlier I had been worried about the zoo, but this encounter changed everything.
That was our first encounter with Yukio, the polar bear.
At first, I simply thought, "Yukio is cute," and
I went to the zoo for a very simple reason.
And as I went there several times, I gradually accumulated information on the biology of each animal.
Over time, I came to understand the character of each individual animal and so on.
You became more and more beloved.
As you became more and more interested in each animal
One by one, the negative feelings I had about the zoo disappeared.
Then, little by little, I started researching "why zoos were born" and "what the zoo's true role is" and so on.
So you naturally came to know about it from the activity reports and other signs and handouts that you saw in the park?
It's an important part of life in society, and it's an important part of life as a creator.
Earning money and producing results are inseparable parts of life.
But the truth is, while the activities are full of stimulation, they are not the only way to make money.
It's a very busy, exhausting and exhausting daily grind.
That's the "other important thing" that I want.
So, in a way, it's a day of sacrifice.
I felt like going to the zoo would free my mind and body.
I could see and touch and feel it in my mind and
You can take a big deep breath and spend time with nothing to hold you captive.
It's so simple to come here and remember the most important thing.
It's unspeakable, invisible, and so warm...
The beauty and joy of this world, that we live and eventually die.
The unexplainable, mysterious events and the mysterious power of nature.
This is the "other important thing" that I have been searching for.
And to tour this zoo and capture the animals on camera.
So it became my life's work one step at a time.
Thinking back, I chose this job on an "idea".
I joined the company with an ambition, to design cars.
During a training period at the company where I was working as a CAD engineer.
It was a wonder idea that came down to me like a big, very bright energy.
Suddenly one morning, "I'm going to be a photographer! I decided to do this.
I realize that life is a series of opportunities to choose a path or to make some choices.
I think it's up to each of us to decide what we will always look to for guidance and reliance in those situations.
Of course, some choices require a great deal of energy in the form of experience, but
What you need to do when you choose to make a decision that you have no experience with is
Isn't there such a thing as this kind of mysterious power in action?
To me, it's exactly like this.
So there's always an experience where you have a sense of "sense of wonder" to show you the way.
The experience of living as an actor
I worked as an actor from second grade through college.
When I was in second grade, I was recruited to perform in the musical "Annie
My parents applied for an audition, and to my surprise, I passed.
I was a young girl with no experience in the acting industry, and everything I had to do was a huge barrier to me.
I had to leave school early and miss school trips.
It wasn't just acting, singing and dancing, because I had zero experience at all.
Yet, six months later, I was still singing and performing in front of many customers.
I was in the spotlight and I still can't forget the excitement I felt at that time.
Even though I was small, I was desperately learning every day how to get out of the situation.
I think I was trying to figure out what to do, and I was making trial and error every day.
The instructors and staff who guided me were the ones who gave me the answers to the questions I was trying to answer.
I think I was struggling to master it somehow.
The clumsy trial and error was something I got to experience around this time.
Later, as a freelance photographer and
I feel that I have been able to turn the walls that I have encountered in my work and projects into strength to overcome them.
And what I experienced there has made me realize that I can handle it, even when I encounter problems.
It's led me to where I am today, where I feel like "there's nothing I can't do.
Maybe it's a great energy and confidence boost for your life right now.
I have a little life in my belly right now.
I am six months into a stable pregnancy.
I think there has always been a big desire for me to become a man.
The desire to fully savor my sexuality as a woman and
Even with that, I feel the extremes of wanting to live out my life freely.
I feel as if I have always fought against my own selfishness.
Maybe it's a feeling I've been dragging around since I was a child.
When I finally reached the age of old childbirth.
We didn't want to have any regrets, so we decided to try to get pregnant.
In light of the current environment for child-rearing in Japanese society, the world situation and the natural environment, we decided to try
It's true that instinctively I've been hesitant to procreate in recent years.
It's just that the next generation is going to have the next set of values and
I feel like it's a different evolutionary process.
I also felt that individuals should not be allowed to make their own judgments about whether it was good or bad for them.
In addition, here's one more difficult barrier to fertility.
My husband's job requires him to go overseas for more than half a year, 3/4 of the time when he's on a business trip in a year
You've been finding it difficult to find the right timing for a natural pregnancy.
You had to take a gamble on one or two of the few chances you had.
I knew it was a gamble I couldn't win now that I was older.
We are going to a specialist clinic where IVF can be done in the summer of 2019.
At the time, I was 37 and my husband was 41.
When we first got married, we were hoping that one day we could conceive naturally.
Their lives themselves are often separated by time and distance.
We wanted to start IVF without any resistance from the beginning, rather than using the timing method or artificial insemination.
We ended up going with ICSI, but we tried the shortest course possible.
I was able to get pregnant this year in March 2020.
I was pregnant and spending time with my baby in my belly.
I am now savoring the time of change that is slowly making me a mother.
The strange sensation of a knock on my belly and
Every day I can't help but wonder if they're still growing well today.
To think that I'm in the middle of this mysterious and wonderful experience of nurturing life.
I'm so glad I took the plunge and took the plunge into fertility.
Sense of Wonder
Until now, I've just loved it and made it my life's work.
It's a natural connection to my work.
I am gradually getting more and more precious time and opportunities to get involved with zoos.
I have learned about various issues related to zoos and their related environments.
And I've learned that there are many issues that are too numerous to list.
You also learn that there are a lot of zoo people who are still working in the field as best they can.
I'm always thinking about what I can do to help them.
Anyway, I thought the only thing I could do was to "go to the zoo again today".
Just going to see the cute guys you've been recommended to meet gives you energy.
It's time to get back to the point of origin.
We'll continue to increase the number of opportunities to meet animals and zoos through books, magazines, apps and photography classes.
The only way for me to convey the joy and wonder of it was through photography, so
I want to continue to work to share the appeal of this project with as many people as possible, even if it's just a little bit at a time.
I also think that after the birth of my child, I will encounter a different set of values.
Even after I return to work, I'm going to change my way of working from the frantic way I used to work.
You can schedule your child to grow and
I'm wondering if my work and what I'm shooting will possibly change.
I've been talking to my husband about how I want to get the word out about my kids through photos and videos.
The content of social networking sites may be changing again.
In the past, the content of social networking sites has naturally turned to work in response to our interests.
It has led to my next meeting and I am confident that I will see some different changes again after the birth.
That's what I'm looking forward to now.
I've lived my life thinking that the only thing that will happen in my life is what I need to happen to myself.
At the optimal time, we may have met and broken up and lost and gained something.
So I'm going to struggle with the present to the fullest in this way, and cherish every moment.
And I hope to encounter a "sense of wonder" again there.
This sense of wonder will probably continue to guide me in the future.
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Sense of wonder
text and photographs - Yurica Terashima
Focusing on portraits, she is active in advertising and magazine media. Her lifelong dream is to visit zoos all over Japan and the world to take pictures of animals in zoos. In addition to developing postcards, iPhone cases and other collaborative goods with companies, she is also a lecturer at Rikkyo University and plans events with companies and government agencies.
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When you forgive yourself,
no one can take it away from you
I've been reckless, not inherited by my parents, and I've been losing a lot of money growing up.
Suddenly, she decided to get into the flower business.
It had been about 10 years since I had worked there and about 7 years since I had become a freelancer.
I had never even worked a part-time job at a flower shop before.
Despite the fact that it was a completely different type of job, just tinkering with computers.
I came up with the idea that my mind was literally in a state of flux.
Maybe it's because there was a big change in my feelings at the time.
When I was in my 20s, I hadn't even started working yet.
At one point, people around me disagreed with my plan for improvement in a meeting, and it was rejected.
A few minutes later, however, everyone agreed with another person's statement.
It was the exact same thing I had said earlier.
I disagreed, almost falling out of my chair at the return of his palm before the roots of his tongue had even dried up.
Yeah, people don't look at what you say, they look at who you say it to.
I remember being shocked.
I had no track record, and I hadn't earned the trust of those around me.
Even if I have something useful to say, they say nothing compelling.
Well, then, I'll have to get more life experience myself.
I need to be someone who has more weight to be able to take the words I say head on!
That's how primitive I was to begin to think.
Now, after that, I've spent a long time
You'll be completing a series of so-called sour and sweet quests that many people go through.
Marriage, childbirth, divorce, parenting depression, job changes, independence.
A business partner in Italy goes bankrupt.
I don't have any money, so I'm giving you my parrot instead.
And there was a time when he received a letter from the president and learned that the debt was uncollectible.
(I didn't get the parrot.)
I've been sick and unable to work.
I've been bereaved by a DV toxic parent.
My relationship with my kids has been strained.
And all that stuff, well, you know, it's just a lot of stuff that happened.
It should have been time for me to save up the kind of experience I wanted back then.
And yet, in the end, it was just a hardship.
It's not like I've accomplished anything.
It's not like I can do much.
All I could feel was that I didn't have any special experience.
The work was challenging, but
I'm always looking for what's right by the world's standards.
I was desperate to turn the project, the place, into something that wasn't a failure.
At first glance, that seems obvious because it's my job.
In fact, getting close to what seemed to be the right answer and not failing was not a success.
And, most importantly, it was what I invented and brought to completion.
When it comes to presenting it ostensibly as another's achievement.
While soberly preparing souvenirs for the media outside the glamorous venue.
I haven't changed at all since then.
I would be astonished.
I'm still not experienced enough to do that.
That it's still too thin because it's not at the level it should be.
Subconsciously, the "Let's Struggle More Project" accelerated even more.
However, then, when I was a young man
"A case of sharing my opinion in a meeting.
It was a frequent occurrence that was the answer song to the
An exchange of ideas on one occasion, an
One person spoke passionately about the importance of these things in parenting.
The people around me and I listened and sympathized with him, but he had no experience in raising children.
Time has entered the age of social networking.
'I became a consultant based on my experience when I went to ○○○.
Someone is a very persuasive young entrepreneur who tweets, "I've been there, but it seems like once.
But it's like a one-time thing.
If you want someone to trust your word, you can't be a flake, you can't be a flake yourself.
Maybe it's a track record, or maybe you need to think in terms of experience.
But you can't be too young or too inexperienced.
There are people who I can relate to and who make me want to believe in them.
How did those people gain the trust of so many people?
It was this sort of thing.
People who are able to admit to themselves the fact that they have done that much, even if it's inexperienced, allow themselves to tell it to themselves as it is, as an achievement.
People who truly believe in what they can do at their current level are strong and trustworthy.
In those days, having a strong opinion about an area in which I was inexperienced was not an option.
I felt like a know-it-all, and I was kind of uncomfortable with that.
I felt like I shouldn't say something that I knew just because I'd been somewhere once.
But it wasn't that anyone had forbidden me to do so, I just hadn't allowed myself to do so.
It was me, not others, who was taking away my achievements that I had worked so hard to create.
Anyway, the people around you will treat you as you treat yourself.
If you treat yourself poorly, the people around you will treat you poorly, and so on.
In other words, I couldn't give myself permission, I couldn't get people to believe in me because I couldn't accept myself.
I mean, there's no way they would believe me if I didn't allow myself to...
What I'm missing is not hard work and experience and accomplishments to back up my words.
I finally realized that it was just a matter of acknowledging what I had always done up to that point, and that's all I'd ever done.
It was like weaving a straw for a distant destination.
We crossed a number of mountain passes with a bamboo bark wrapped rice ball in our hearts.
I was about to fall over when my blood-soaked feet wouldn't take another step forward.
It was like being told, "Well, let's take a chopper afterwards.
If that's what it is, tell me first, first thing.
After such a realization a few years ago now.
Like a dam, I started believing in myself and doing whatever I wanted to do, even if it was a foregone conclusion.
I'm aware that the flower work I started recklessly, and of course I'm still a chick with decades to polish up, but even so, I don't have a sneaky feeling at all.
Instead of setting a certain level as a point of achievement and being ashamed of my differences from that point.
I may not be good enough, but this is who I am now.
I can proudly say, "I'm not satisfied with the status quo.
Satisfaction with the status quo can stop you from growing, but it's a strange thing because when you forgive and admit that you've gotten to your tentative position, you're motivated to work harder from there.
One day, I suddenly think of this.
'Humans have 60 trillion cells, they kill cancer cells and all kinds of germs every day with their immunity, they heal us when we get hurt, they store decades of memories, and they have the creativity to create things and solve problems that don't exist in this world. You may not find such a miraculous, high-performance, sophisticated creature in the universe.
Ah! But that high performance precious creature, come to think of it, I had it too. This self!
I'm not a great guy in the slightest, but human beings are amazing! When you have the feeling that you are a good person, you can believe in your future.
You want to let them try things out and grow.
You wonder what will happen if you enhance their performance.
Confidence is the sense of trusting your future in a good direction.
Recently, the term "desire for approval" has been used a lot, but it's not so much getting approval from someone else as it is gaining an unshakable confidence in yourself by acknowledging and forgiving yourself.
It's the same with something like human sexuality.
"No, no, no, no, I don't think so" would stop me right there.
I have a feeling that the sexiness is going to lurk down to the line that the person has allowed themselves to take: "I'm like this in some places.
The flowers of plants and trees are flowers that will eventually fall. The appearance of impermanence.
Arranging flowers is an act of prayer that brings to light the momentary glimmer of life until the roots are cut off and the flowers are on their way to death.
And, through this artful presentation, which is detached from nature, the work speaks to the viewer's senses.
People are also impermanent beings, but
Finding individuality in the present moment.
If they agree that it's okay.
If I can allow myself to present it as it is.
It is sure to grow and produce large flowers.
text and photographs - Karin Sugiyama
He is a floral designer who does not have a fixed style and proposes various designs according to the concept of floral styling for photo shoots, flower decoration at events and weddings, and festive flowers, etc.
After working in marketing communications at advertising agencies and IT companies, he established Anjoush Inc. in 2008 to plan and manage projects and create guidelines for corporate environmental conservation activities and initiatives to create a sustainable society.
In the course of his work, he became fascinated by the beauty of plants and their way of life, and began to believe that the truth of this world lies in the natural world, and that in order to build a sustainable society, we need to touch trees, flowers, and other plants and feel a sense of admiration and awe for them.
In April 2016, she opened Sohana Tokyo, and while utilizing her studies in flower arranging, she also incorporates the essence of what she learned from floral artists in Europe, aiming to make the most of the individuality of each flower in her styling.
BRAND "Soka Tokyo"
Haute couture flower brand "Sohana TOKYO".
Sohana TOKYO is an atelier-style haute couture flower brand that does not have a shop. We offer made-to-order floral styling for special occasions using only fresh flowers that have life.
Creating a space that brings out the sparkle of life in fresh flowers
We support the creation of spaces that make the most of the impact and visual appeal of plants and flowers in special situations, such as product displays, photography props and photo booths for promotional events.
Designing, not art
Sohana TOKYO is not an "artist" but a "designer", and we share the goal and challenge of the project with our clients, and we aim to design a solution with plants and flowers.
Therefore, we do not limit ourselves to one style, but rather we try to take an approach that allows the diverse personalities of the plants to play out in accordance with our objectives, such as the venomousness, lustre and cuteness of the flowers, and the freshness and strength of the plants and trees.
When available, we also offer plants and flowers that you don't often see in the city's florists.
While I write this and during lockdown the following song has been all time around me. Sleeping at Last – Southern.
© Roger Villena
Due to the lockdown many people might have thought about changing life, job or lifestyle. I didn't, I loved the life I had built. I was doing the two things I love the most, working as travel photographer and rock climbing multi-pitch routes. I had good clients that took me many years to find and I am grateful for everything I lived.
So when all this changed from one day to the next, I was in shock. I wasn't allowed to live in my van anymore neither allowed to climb and few weeks later the airline magazines I had been working for announced temporary suspension so no more work coming in.
We all were in shock, and we are all grieving for what we lost. Because life changed and we all left something behind. There are 5 stages of grieving: denial, anger, guilt, depression and acceptance. If that is the case, during this time I was full in denial and at times anger.
The father of Alberto Espinosa, a Spanish writer used to tell him “to live is to learn to loose what you gained” if that's the case, my professional career as travel photographer is a lot about that. In the past 15 years I have worked for over 100 clients and only 10 to 15 remain today and from those many changed their teams entirely. Many closed down in 2009, some before, others after or now as effect of the Covid-19.
For 50 days, Spain was in full lockdown. We were only allowed to go out one person at a time with mask and gloves to buy essentials like groceries or medicines and go to the doctor. Police was patrolling the streets everyday having controls to check where the few cars were moving too and asking people the same. Everything stopped and the whole country looked like a post-apocalyptic scene.
During this time I worked on my personal photographic career and a my new project called LVRS a photo essay about the connection of sexual encounters with the 4 natural elements (fire, earth, water and air).
And also, I was lucky I had my wools so I could follow my recent passion: knitting. I knit a lot, a hat, 2 masks, 2 scarfs, a shawl, a set of coasters and I just started a new turquoise scarf.
What the future holds...
As I write this, the village where I live is in phase 2 (+35 days since full lockdown). In Barcelona city they are not so lucky, just starting phase 1. In phase 2, we are allowed to go out, move around our area, most of the shops, restaurants and bars are reopening and we can even go climbing again. The most difficult thing for Spanish people is to wear masks as we are not used to and keep the 2 meters distance between friends and people you know. We are a warm society, we greet people with a hug and two kisses one on each cheek.
Personally, I am still grieving from a lost life, specially work-wise and wondering how I am going to earn my living from now on. The good side is that I have experience from previews breakdowns and tsunamis in my life. In 2009, 50% of my clients closed down and in 2015 I separated from my husband after 13 years together and started a new life. Something I learned is that nothing is permanent.
I am taking care of myself and the ones I love, I try to be happy and well everyday. Stay focus, don't rush into anything, learn to live with the uncertainty and make plans for only 3-4 months ahead. After this time, time to revise things again. Save and don't waist energies. And very important, listen to my heart beat carefully, the heart beat that always tells me where to go and what to do next.
Work-wise I keep working for a client and I am focus on my other expertise as social media visual content creator as I collaborate with a couple of clients and NGOs. Always learning and keeping update with the latest tendencies, finally I am having time to improve my video editing and design skills.
Right now, from the grieving stages I am moving from anger to depression and acceptance....and I would add a 6th stage: gratitude.
© Maribeth Mellin
text and photographs - Itxaso Zuñiga Ruiz (unless otherwise specified)
translation - Mikiko Shirakura
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© Victor Tardio
© Victor Tardio
freelance travel photographer
Itxaso Zuñiga Ruiz
Itxaso Zuñiga Ruiz (1978) born in Terrassa, Spain. Free-lance photographer for travel magazines and social media visual content developer specialized in tourism. Passionate rock climber, van lover and knitter.
Based in Japan (Tokyo) from 2005 to 2009 working for Spanish news agencies and Japanese travel magazines and in In