Soft Focus is a photographic series by Eloise Rapp, documenting the uniquely beautiful character of suburban Kyoto through its privacy windows.
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Japan’s ancient capital is a stupendously charming place. It overflows with grandiose historical sites, pristine gardens and quaint wooden townhouses, but there is a less obvious aspect of the city that makes it an ideal place to live. Almost entirely flat with plenty of quiet, narrow and labyrinthine streets, it is the perfect environment to ride a bike in.
During the two years I lived in Kyoto, I got around almost entirely by bicycle. I took new and unusual routes whenever I could.
Travelling by bicycle allows you to absorb the unique details of a city.
One detail I’ve always found to be surprisingly eye-catching about Kyoto is the ‘Showa-kata itagurasu’ – 昭和型板ガラス – or Showa-style glass window typical of its older homes.
Sometimes the windows revealed a great deal of individuality, perhaps intentionally, and other times they gave you just a brief glimpse into someone else’s life.
I was fascinated by the interplay of glass textures with the diffused colour and form of the objects behind. I started keeping my camera on me so I could capture these unexpectedly endearing domestic compositions.
The domestic scenes in the windows were likely to shift, change or completely disappear even the next day.
I was intrigued by the contrast between interior and exterior, by how these apertures could create a scene-within-a-scene.
Like the tangled mass of overhead powerlines, tiny local businesses, hidden shrines and gurgling canals, these distinctive windows are part of what makes local Kyoto so captivating.