© 2017, 2018 by Valerie Sloan. ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT VALERIE SLOAN, please inquire for purchase use options.

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This is a small village accessible by bus from Takayama, Nagoya, and Kanazawa. The reason to visit this sleepy community is to witness the traditional architecture of using the grass reeds to create the roof of buildings. Upon viewing a video at the Gass-ho village I learned more about the craft of the architecture and the community involvement. At one point, each family grew their own reeds, but now it's a consortium. It's layered upon layers and tied with rope and other nimble reeds.

The more disappointing thing to witness is the excessive tourism for the sake of paparazzi style photo shoots to the point where people are trampling private property and finding ways to cross measly barriers for a random picture under leaves or in front of a texture or to hold a prop like someone's firewood or flowers. I often ponder lately about my life with camera. The camera has been something I've used and had a passion for since childhood. I always seemed to be the person in the sidelines with the camera documenting life. Now with high-tech cameras in smartphones photography is so pervasive and invasive. In contrast what's equally annoying are those with gigantic and expensive lenses that are pushing themselves in the way as well as an obvious invasion of space.

I prefer to use my camera in stealth mode and never look thru a viewfinder. I want to capture truly candid experiences and don't try to create a composition in the camera after years of being able to instantaneously translate composition to a subtle shift of the wrist for unique angles. I also like the magic of not knowing exactly what I've captured which is the closest experience to having to develop film that I can have in the traditional photography sense. Because we aren't using film anymore, the digital has enabled this massive use of take as many pictures as possible. My curiousity about how people are able to post full body images of themselves alone from a distance was solved by watching a boyfriend in charge of the camera phone over a sequence of four attempts to flatter the girlfriend's standards. But I digress.

The beauty of this town was found off the beaten path away from the thralls of on-lookers. Paying 600 yen to go into the traditional village was so worth it.