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Photographer reminds Japanese of their 'forgotten' hometowns

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Takehiko Kambayashi

(Read caption) Japanese photographer Noriko Nakamoto poses in Onomichi, Japan.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

When photographer Noriko Naka-moto was recovering from a personal crisis, she stumbled upon Onomichi, a seaside city in western Japan that has changed little since the 1960s. She decided to live there and take photos of what she calls “forgotten Japan.”

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Ms. Nakamoto has documented many aspects of locals’ daily lives, including old temples, fish peddlers, eating places, and dilapidated dwellings. While her work is of modest subjects – no celebrities or big corporations – her experience in Onomichi has enabled her to better appreciate life itself, she says. She now teaches photography to more than 100 locals.

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As Japan’s decades-long economic slump hit outlying regions especially hard, more people abandoned their hometown to seek a job in an urban center.

“Many people have forgotten what their hometown had given them,” she says.