“Voyage” recounts Tamiko Nishimura’s numerous travels to Europe and within Asia between 2018 and 1987.
In her black-and-white photographs, Nishimura captured instants from Hong Kong, Rome, Thailand, Turkey, France, South Korea and other countries. With a thoughtfulness that will be familiar to readers of her previous photobooks, in her photographs Nishimura approaches her subjects – strangers, landscapes, boats, animals, street scenes, the sea – with interest and understanding, both conscious and accepting of the fact that her photographs can only hint at the deeper truths behind what they depict rather than try to offer simple truths. Nishimura’s “Voyage” is not a collection of travel impressions but a manifold portrait of life wherever Nishimura encountered it. These are photos that make the world seem richer.
Traveling in Asia somehow makes me feel nostalgic. Back before I started elementary school, my mother forbade me to cross the Tabata Bridge over the nearby Jakuzure River. Beyond that was a big street busy with car traffic, but I just had to know what lay on the other side, so I ventured out alone without telling her. Over there were houses and a Buddhist nunnery. To the left were woods, deep green and gloomy even in daytime. My “wolf forest,” I called it. Further on I came to the No. 7 Ring Route, which was still unpaved at the time, though daunting enough to make me turn back. My expectations toward crossing the boundary, as well as my sheer wonder about how such places so steeped in secrets might actually connect with my secure, normal world, brought a subtle thrill to each step I took. There’s something of that feeling when I think back on my travels in Asia, the notion of nearby foreign lands just across a bridge. The Jakuzure River of my memories was paved over in the 1970s and is now a strolling lane. (...)
The spring of 1993 I quit a three-year stint as an editor, and went that summer to Portugal. A friend of mine had majored in Portuguese at college and before I knew it she’d talked me into traveling with her. We headed north from Lisbon to Guimarães, then caught an overnight train from Porto down south to Praia da Rocha. By the time we got back to Lisbon, the seasons had changed and the streets were aflutter with falling leaves. I believe it was this Portugal trip that set me on a course of travel and taking photographs in foreign countries.
Destinations often are spur of the moment things, chosen at the least instance. In 2010, I went to Honfleur in Normandy, the hometown of Erik Satie where Françoise Sagan owned a villa in her later years. I also stopped by Étretat where supposedly lived master thief Arsène Lupin, a favorite fictional character from my childhood. Then in 2011 it was off to Prague, all because of one short line my great-uncle wrote in his memoir: “Visited the Jewish cemetery in Prague.” Or again, that trip to Sardinia in 2013 was set in motion because I recalled a villain in an American movie had said he was from Sardinia. Some detail one might just as easily forget lingers in the mind, only to pique a fancy to head off somewhere.
― Tamiko Nishimura “Travels and Memory”, Afterword of “Voyage”