Project Hohoemi | Just Say “No” To Public Displays of Affection

I learned a great deal about the Japanese culture during this photo mission trip to Ishinomaki. I knew before going that you never really see couples showing affection to one another in public. But for some reason it did not dawn on me that the same would hold true while taking photos. I ask my clients to hug or put their arms around each other every time I shoot. So I just naturally did the same thing while photographing the people of Ishinomaki. You should have seen the reactions I got. Couples would laugh and actually back away from each other. Totally the opposite of what I was asking them to do. I was actually able to capture this women’s reaction when we asked her husband to put his arm around her. He was totally for it, but she however was not. She refused his arm and humored us by holding his hand. I must say that I love learning about other cultures by immersion and this was definitely a learning experience.

This sweet women wanted us to stay and visit once the photos were done, but we had to go next door to take more pictures.  However, she waited for us and once she saw us leaving her neighbors home she met us in the street and insisted we come back in for pears,oranges, and ENERGY DRINKS. Yes. That is correct. Apparently Japanese people love energy drinks. So we knelt on her heated rug and enjoyed her hospitality. Since I don’t speak Japanese I spent most of this time just in awe of the fact that I was sitting in their home as a welcomed guest enjoying the gift of food that she insisted I eat every bite of. Such an amazing experience. One I will never forget.  The hospitality and gift giving of this culture just blows me away.

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