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Yoshinori Harada is a university student who just turned 20 last December. Ever since he was little, he has been in love with trains, taking pictures and riding them all across the country. In high school, he began traveling abroad, which got him very interested in railroads overseas and the people that lived in the places he visited. This exhibition portrays the invaluable experiences Harada has had traveling about Asia by train and meeting people along the way.
In every photo, Harada has captured how people live day by day in the places he has been and the trains that run there, with straightforward youthful sensitivity, therefore so-called “stock photos” of train sets and railway landscapes are not the main focus of the exhibition. Harada has visited 15 countries overseas, although he is showing this time photos from just China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and India.
Because of cultures, histories and climates, the railroads of Asia can differ greatly from what is seen in Japan. Railway photos in Japan predominantly depict train cars, while life along the railway line is featured little. Much of that is because, for safety reasons, people are not allowed near the trains outside of stations. However, in the other countries in Asia, people and railways are a lot closer both physically and mentally. Someone walking leisurely along the tracks would - for example - be unthinkable in Japan, but not so elsewhere in Asia. These differing relationships between people and railroads open the door to some entertaining photography. There are - for instance - several countries, China being one, where steam locomotives still fulfill an industrial role as opposed to transporting tourists. Harada has captured many a proud engineer looking out the window of his steam engine. Moreover, you can sense the power these engines have to haul coal from the umpteen bangs and dents etched into their black bodies. Sadly, however, Harada suspects those valiant silhouettes will likely vanish in a few years.
As he explains, “There are countries where train hobbyists are generally unheard of. In my case, since I have a lot of opportunities to photograph lives and emotions, I always remind myself to thank those people for allowing me to interrupt their lives to take a few photos. I guess, partly because I’m young, locals accept me without fear or hesitation.”
You will enjoy the heart-warming photos Harada has taken of the various characters he has encountered during his travels by train.
Born in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1997. Currently enrolled in the Department of Architecture
and Architectural Engineering at Waseda University. Traveled to Taiwan for the first time in
2014 at the age of 16, partly because his grandfather was born there. Began traveling
through Asia that same year to take pictures of railways and lifestyles.