I recently found the memory card from my first camera, a small Fujifilm that I bought during my first time in Japan. The year was 2013 and I was a bright-eyed kid from the countryside. Looking back, this was one of my first DERIVE moments, though I would not call it as such until many years later. I have retouched the original photographs as you see them here.

November, 2018.


My time in Japan was coming to an end, at least for now.
Somewhere I had heard stories about an old fishing port and a battleship island, so the two of us decided to get away from Tokyo for a few days…

We managed to make the last call for boarding at Haneda Airport just in time to get to Kobe where we changed for a sleepy local flight through to Nagasaki…


The bus from the airport had a musk to it that stuck to my jacket. I looked out the window at the passing highway lights and empty buildings. In the brisk December air everything seemed more lonely somehow.

The bus stopped near the Washington Hotel in the Chinatown. We were staying a stone’s throw from the first ever foreign outpost in the country. You see, Nagasaki was where it all happened: David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Endo Shusaku’s Silence. The town was old and weary, and cobbled with the stories of a million silent voices…


We tried the local Shoronpo dumpling place next door but our wandering soon took us further into the misty town to the north. Nestled amongst mountains and between oceans, Nagasaki reminded me of Wellington somehow. I was not quite ready to go back to New Zealand just yet though…


As we continued I saw a floating world far in the distance. A sea of lights hung in the sky – something I have only seen one other time in my life. The first time was the floodlights of a fleet of fishing boats somewhere over the East China Sea, this time though, it was it was the shining lights from the top of the mountain. The light beckoned us. With only what we had on our backs and a couple of warm cans of coffee we followed the silent winding road towards the summit. A few vehicles passed us by, but we saw no one else. A family of wild boars squealed out in the darkness of the forest somewhere…


In the silence of the night a cold mist light touched our hands and ears, we made it to the top of Inasayama Mountain above Nagasaki, looking out over the lights of stars and cities.