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Kobayashi Kengo

Japanese Photographer: Let the Beauty of Taiwan be Seen


Japanese Photographer: Let the Beauty of Taiwan be Seen

Source:Kobayashi Kengo

"With only two hands, there is a limit on what I can do, but at least I photograph," said Kobayashi Kengo, a photographer from Tokyo now living in Taipei. “Your country is beautiful, the people, too. I want more people to see Taiwan through my lens.”



Japanese Photographer: Let the Beauty of Taiwan be Seen

By Yuchi Kuo/Taiwanese boy is not easy
web only

Kobayashi Kengo, a photographer from Tokyo now living in Taipei, has graduated from a culinary school, has visited more than 20 countries, and has once worked as a broadcaster guide in Tokyo Midtown and Skytree.

My encounter with Mr. Kobayashi started from a night picture of Taipei, taken from the top of Jiannan Hill (劍南山). I can still recall what he wrote beside the picture: “Your country is beautiful, the people, too. I want more people to see Taiwan through my lens.”

Since then, I’ve been following the work of this amazing photographer, who never fails to capture the beauty of everyday life in Taiwan. The first time I met him in person, he brought up topics such as the preservation of aboriginal culture in Taiwan and recognition of mother tongue, which left me in complete awe, as many of his photographs and writings often do.

The following is an extract of an interview with him:

I am Kobayashi Kengo, a photographer from Japan. I am currently learning Mandarin in National Taiwan Normal University, and documenting my life in Taiwan with a pen and a camera. I’ve started my Working Holiday in a tea house in Taipei. Why a tea house? As a matter of fact, I’ve heard that young people in Taiwan generally lack interest in the tea-art industry. This motivates me to share the world (including Japan) my experience of the charm and grace that seasons a cup of local Taiwanese tea.

Remember the 311 Eastern-Japan earthquake? That was five years ago, when I first knew about Taiwan. At a time when we were embittered with pain and grief, it was Taiwan that reached out a helping hand—an act of kindness that we will never forget. From then on, we wholeheartedly pray for the harmony and flourishing of both countries.

I did not choose to learn Mandarin in Taipei only to express my gratitude to Taiwan. I chose it for myself, expecting to dive deeper into the culture by learning the language, to draw closer to the locals, and to call attention to this island, to let more people know about this country.

Taiwan is genuinely beautiful. I had visited a variety of countries, seen magnificent scenery after scenery, met a myriad of different people, but never had I encountered such unique charm before I came to Taiwan. This country named 'Taiwan' gives off an indescribable magic power—the sense of kinship among the people, the harmony with nature in the landscape, and the picturesque view of the high mountains and deep waters.

Wrapped in the warmth of their country, the people feel it, keep it in mind, and put it in practice. Satisfying smiles can be found on the faces of working grannies and grand-dads. A heritage of collective wisdom from the ancestors and the aboriginal traditions can be tasted in the food. A beautiful island-nation with 75% of its land in the mountains can be seen shining its unique glint in the heart of Asia. With only two hands, there is a limit on what I can do, but at least I photograph. I want to make more people see into Taiwan through my lens. If you agree, come join me. Let’s spread the beauty of Taiwan to the world.

My works this time consist of four themes. Allow me to introduce them to you.

First comes 'The Land of Jade' (翡翠大地). Taiwan, the island-nation with 75% of its land in lush mountains, impresses many visitors with its fresh greenness. Yet to me, it is no simple green, but a lively shade of Emerald Green (ひすいいろ). What I want to convey through my following works, is that 'the essence of a country lies not in the expansion of the land, but the embodiment of humanity and inner values within.'

The second part is titled 'Beauty in the Aboriginals' (原民之美). This is the story of a culture treasure being passed down from generation to generation, never yielding to the waves of urbanization and tech-revolution. It is also a symbol of the resilience of the people. The world we see here is absolutely different from the capital Taipei. Perhaps, from the story of our aboriginal friends, we get to find that rippling answer to our déjà vus.

Third, 'Formosa' (福爾摩沙). The colors, the kinship, and the vibrant harmony between nature and technology that flourish the beautiful island-nation. Let it be revealed, through the following works—the six-degrees-of-beauty of Taiwan we see in the change of weathers, seasons, and timings.

Finally, 'The Hills of Hope' (希望之丘). No matter what turbulent changes we have gone through, the mutual prosperity between Japan and Taiwan has long been influencing the people on both lands. Hence, we should always pray for the peace and prosperity for our best brother-country. Let it be witnessed, through the following works—the heartfelt belief in the warm and powerful light of 'hope.'

Translated by Sharon Tseng.

features more than 200 (still increasing) Taiwanese new generation from over 110 cities around the globe. They have no fancy rhetoric and sophisticated knowledge, just genuine views and sincere narratives. They are simply our friends who happen to stay abroad, generously and naturally sharing their stories, experience and perspectives.  See also CrossingNYC.

Additional Reading

♦ Circle Taiwan With a Bike – A New Trend for Japanese
♦ Don’t Tell the Japanese to Visit Jiufen Anymore!
'Cruise' Around the Island by Train

This article presents the opinion or perspective of the original author / organization, which does not represent the standpoint of CommonWealth magazine.