For some reason, these photos look calm. Yet in reality, a blizzard raged and the muted glow of the snow-plough’s headlights provided just enough light to let me capture this scene: fragile, snow-cloaked candles beneath an otherwise relentless black sky. Sleet assaulted our eyes, abraded our cheeks and hounded our cameras, while our voices had long since been swept away.
This street, a beautifully preserved row of thatched cottages from Japan’s Edo Period, is only 300 metres long.
Walking it under these conditions, felt like 300 years. Which is handy, really, since that’s roughly how old the place is.
Ouchijuku Village used to be an important staging post on the route between Imaichi and Aizu Wakamatsu. Over time, the world grew faster and its importance faded away. Yet it kept its character and today provides a delicious taste of traditional life in Japan.
As does this photo of a woman waiting for us as we arrived at our hotel. Total and utter dedication. And possibly frostbite. I shiver at the thought.
Disclosure: I visited Japan in 2011 as a guest of the tourist board. As ever, I have complete editorial freedom.