Member of Japan Professional Photographers Society
Public transportation system is something we use for everyday commute and also for traveling. In order to bring a new perspective to public transport system, every year, we invite photography and haiku submission. (Application period is from early June to the mid of July.) Themes for the photography Section are “Transportation in Japan” and “New Tourist Destinations”. Themes for the Haiku Section are things pertaining to railway or things that portray and appreciate Japanese values. Works selected are exhibited at venues like Ueno station around the Railway Day (October 14th) in October every year and those works judged the best receive awards such as Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Award.
Public Interest Incorporated Foundation, Japan Traffic Culture Association
Railway Day Executive Committee
Date ： October 20th (Fri.)- 25th (Wed.), 2023
Opening hours： 9:00a.m. – 7:00p.m.
Venue ： JR Ueno Station Central Exit, Grand Concourse, Special Exhibition Site
Admission ： Free
The Traffic Culture Exhibition, which began in 1954 as the The Traffic Culture Exhibition for the Traffic Workers, will be held for the 70th time in 2023. At the venue, the history of the 70 times was exhibited.
The Jinko-Sai River-Crossing Festival, with about 470 years’ history and tradition, took place this year after a four year pause due to the pandemic. The festival has been designated an important intangible cultural heritage of Fukuoka prefecture.
Two mikoshi—portables Shinto shrines—and eleven floats called yamakasa decorated with banner flags and streamers tour around the town of Itamachi, and then they cross the Hikosangawa river. This picture is one of the shots I took holding a camera on the Bandabashi bridge across the Hikosangawa river during “the river crossing competition” when all the floats perform “Gaburi”, a technique of creating rough splashing motions by intentionally rocking the floats backward and forward.（Taken May, 2023）
Comment by SHIMIZU Tetsuro：This 470 year old festival was originally an offering to the god of this shrine after the fulfillment of the prayer for the end of the epidemic. It was the first “designated important intangible cultural heritage of Fukuoka prefecture”. Because the colorful floats are so huge the young carriers splashing in the river look small. The photograph is very powerful as it captures the floats with splashing water all around them. The photographer made good use of the compression effect of the telephoto lens to create this powerful layout. He created tension by eliminating redundant space which livened up the atmosphere of this gorgeous photo.
In Nunobiki Wind Plateau located in Koriyama city you’ll see a splendid landscape of sunflower fields dotted with wind turbines generating electricity. The landscape with the flower changes throughout the day. When I took this photo, it was windy so I had to try many times to capture the sunflowers standing upright under long exposure. And I am very happy with this picture where sunflowers and windmills are seen together with the Milky Way overhead.（Taken August, 2022）
Comment by SHIMIZU Tetsuro：Stretching over the landscape of sunflowers, a representative summer flower, lies the Milky Way and myriad of stars. Looking at this breathtakingly beautiful landscape, I was overwhelmed. I believe this successful combination of earth landscape and the starry sky overhead presents a good balance due to the good combined use of digital camera, bright wide-angle lens, high-sensitivity shooting, appropriate exposure time and careful retouch. It looks that the wind turbines for wind power generation look like an important existence connecting the universe with the earth.
During the Corona virus pandemic when restrictions were imposed on social activities, I got completely hooked on a sun-surveying application that locate the position of the sun. I began to wish to take photos of the Shinkansen bullet train against the sun using this application, and started looking for appropriate shooting spots. I was looking for a place above or at least the same level with the Shinkansen railroad. I finally chose the spot at the entrance of Kanmon tunnel. It was here that I took this picture. As I waited, a 500 series Shinkansen showed up against the setting sun. I thought I took the picture at the perfect moment.（Taken May, 2021）
Comment by SHIMIZU Tetsuro：The beautiful form of the 500 series Shinkansen bullet train, reflected by the setting sun on its body, stands out further by the use of super telephoto lens. Under the difficult backlight illuminating conditions of twilight, the photographer selected a perfect degree of exposure as well as composition to take this amazing picture. This work is so cool and exciting that I feel like looking at it forever. It must be the photographer’s love and passion for railways as well as his earnest attitude toward taking pictures that created this wonderful work.
The Tenjinhama shore of Lake Inawashiro experiences strong seasonal cold winds during winter. Sometimes the winds rage so violently that the ice spreading over the lake is tumbled by the waves and eventually breaks the ices and create large ice balls. One fine winter day I visited the lake and fortunately saw the lakeshore filled with the ice balls. I think the combination of the ice balls and clear Mt. Bandaisan is a typically charming scenery of Aizu region in winter.（Taken February, 2020）
Comment by SHIMIZU Tetsuro：The natural feature of Lake Inawashiro in winter is “shibuki ice” natural ice sculptures, but sometimes the harsh winter winds and strong waves create ice balls, as you see in this picture. They are rare products; only seen under limited conditions. So, it is worth visiting to see the scene. This picture of ice balls is impressive as it includes in the composition the contrail, snow-covered Mt. Bandaisan, and the clear blue sky, which tells us that the weather was harsh before.
Yobuko Great Tug of War in Karatsu city, an important intangible cultural heritage, took place this year after a four year pause due to the pandemic. This photo was taken at the first day event of the “Kids’ Tug of War”. As I was watching the game, I noticed a boy who looked determined to never give up while other kids were beginning to give up. Eventually his team lost, but children on both teams were all smiles, and I’m sure this game would become unforgettable when they look back on it.（Taken June, 2023）
The annual May festival was held at Igami Shrine, one of the three major Daimyojin Shrines in Odawara. This photo depicts a mikoshi—portable Shinto shrine—being carried through town. At some reception places the mikoshi carriers perform “aori” motions by daringly tilting the heavy mikoshi to the left and to the right. It was a really spectacular scene, and I had to do my best to capture the scene with my camera.（Taken May, 2023）
The trolley sightseeing train “Okuizumo Orochi” operates on the JR Kisuki Line. I took this picture of the train while it was climbing through the fresh greenery in the Chugoku Mountains. I set up my tripod at a railroad crossing by an old national highway and kept on shooting while being careful for my safety. It has been decided that the operation of the Okuizumo Orochi trains will end in November this year due to the aging of the train. It is very regrettable, but I will keep on taking photos of this gallant machine until the last day of service.（Taken May, 2023）
The Ebira bus stop is built out of wood reclaimed from an old soy sauce preserving barrel that was used during the Meiji era. This community bus stop is still being used. I didn’t know there was such a bus stop in my hometown. Only recently I noticed that when I passed by. The way it is constructed, the views from the small window, and my daughter enjoying the feel of wood—all these lovely elements urged me to take these pictures.（Taken November, 2022）
Toba Fire Festival at Toba Shinmei Shrine is a Shinto ritual handed down for about 1200 years. The ritual involves burning two five-meters high bundles of bamboo and reed called “suzumi”. The bundles surround sacred pieces of wood and ropes. When the bundles begin to burn, servants called “neko (cat)” climb ladders and jump through the bundles into the roaring flames one after another to compete for the sacred woods and twelve ropes to offer them to God. By clapping and cheering, spectators encourage the dauntless, brave neko in their pursuit.（Taken February, 2023）
Yunokami Onsen Station of Aizu Railway is famous for their beautiful cherry blossoms. I was unable to visit the station during the cherry blossom season, and by the time I visited, the cherry blossoms were just beginning to fall. It was a very cold drizzly morning with nobody at the station’s platform. I found the solitariness added to the quiet atmosphere of this mountainous region. I felt that I could take the best shot when the station master, crossing the railway with his umbrella, heightened the mood of that rainy morning.（Taken April, 2023）
February 23, 2023 was the 10th anniversary of Mt. Fuji being designated as the World Cultural Heritage. I visited the riverbed of Fujikawa river on that day and as if to celebrate this day, I saw a lenticular cloud capping Mt. Fuji and another one hanging in the right sky. They are commonly known as “Kasagumo” and “Tsurushigumo” respectively. It rained the day before, so the river was swollen. To capture the powerful river flow, the clouds, and the entire cars of the Tokaido Shinkansen crossing the bridge, I used a wide-angle lens. The picture captures the Mt. Fuji scene perfectly together with the river’s dynamic movements in the foreground.（Taken February, 2023）
In English-speaking countries, the full moon in January is called “Wolf Moon”. On the first dramatic night of this year, I shot a picture where an airplane taking off Haneda Airport superimposed over the wolf moon. A lot of planes came by after the moon rose high, but not so many that flew across the moon. It was a cold night, but I didn’t give up and kept waiting, and finally got this lucky chance.（Taken January, 2023）
In June, as I stood on the edge of higata, a tideland in Ogi city, I heard some splashing sounds like the gentle clapping of hands. This is the sound of a male mutsugoro’s (mudskipper) courtship jumping to attract the love of a female mutsugoro. I patiently waited in the wings until I could finally take this picture the moment the fish showed off its courtship jumping. Mutsugoro is an endangered species, so I will be happy if this picture helps to promote people to pay more attention to mutsugoro.（Taken June, 2023）
I heard rumors that a DE10 diesel locomotive would be operated on the JR Suigun Line transporting crushed stones. So, I went out to take a photo. At Kujigawa river, I happened to come across a family playing in the water. I took the liberty of asking them to take a pose and wave to the train as it passed in front of them. The bright, orange-colored diesel locomotive cutting through the green landscape along the JR Suigun Line was picturesque. I wish will continue its operation.（Taken August , 2022）
In November, the sun glows as it sets upstream of the Arakawa Bridge of Chichibu Railway. Wishing to take silhouetted pictures, I waited downstream of the Arakawa bridge. On the day I took this picture, as the sun was setting painting the sky with a hue of burning red, a limestone transport trollies being pulled by an electric locomotive coincidentally passed across the bridge. I had a perfect opportunity to take the shot!（Taken November, 2021）
The west approach from Kurehashi Bridge to Usa Jingu Shrine is a path called “Chokushi Kaido” meaning the road the imperial messengers travelled on. Just before sunset, reflected by the evening sun, this long stone-paved road becomes literally a “shining road”. When I took this picture, a neighbor was taking their dogs for a stroll. So, the simple photo of shining road against the silhouette of the person with her dogs became like a beautiful hanging scroll painting.（Taken May, 2021）
Saijyo Festival is an autumnal festival originating in the Edo period. The festival consists of four festivals at different shrines: Isono Shrine, Kamo Shrine, Iwaoka Shrine, and Iizumi Shrine. During the festive season, a total of a hundred and dozens “taikodai” floats holding a large wooden drum and other kind of floats are dedicated to the shrines. The scene taken in this picture is the “kakikurabe” performance at Iizumi Shrine, when the men carrying the floats, flauntingly competed to lift their float to the rhythm of a drumbeat. The eleven extravagantly decorated taikodai lined up in a row, and then lifted all at once. It was a really powerful, spectacular moment.（Taken October, 2022）
While we had to refrain from going outside due to the coronavirus pandemic, I was pondering if there were any nearby good places to take photos. Then the Nagoya Vehicle Maintenance Area of JR Tokai occurred to me. As I stood on the overpass, I saw trains undergoing maintenance as well as some turntables. The lights of the train depot looked like stars, and the trains of Takayama Line undergoing maintenance looked as if they were quietly sleeping under the starry night.（Taken May, 2020）
The fireworks during Christmas aligned with the perfect timing of the special operating hour of the SL Taiju train at the Kuragasaki SL Flower Fields along Tobu Kinugawa Line. A lot of people came to see the event despite the snowy, cold weather. A variety of fireworks were fired just when the SL Taiju train passed by. People applauded enthusiastically, and as if to answer to the cheers of the spectators, the SL Taiju train sounded its whistle. I’m grateful to everybody who organized this event and provided us with such a rare spectacular opportunity.（Taken December, 2022）
The annual Grand Festival of Koromo Shrine takes place on the third Sunday in October. This is the premiere event of this shrine, when “dashi” floats, dedicated from every town in the city, make a dash into the precincts of the shrine which is called “hikikomi”. The climax of the festival is a dashi’s “hikidashi” parade in the evening, when each dashi takes a corner in front of the shrine under a storm of confetti creating a breathtaking moment of tension and great spectacle for spectators.（Taken October, 2022）
When I was trekking across Shiretoko National Park which is designated as the World Natural Heritage Site, I saw a tree rustling at a distance. Then I found a higuma (brown bear) eating the cherries of ezo-yamazakura. I photographed the bear against Mt.Iou, which is one of Shiretoko mountain range. Three days later, I saw a higuma on the roadside of Shiretoko, it was breaking and drawing a branch toward itself, and absorbed in eating cherries. I photographed his pictures staying in the car.（Taken June, 2023）
“Koinobori festa 1000” which takes place at the riverside park arranged at the foot of the Monzenbashi bridge along Akutagawa river in Takatsuki City, is a very popular event, when about a thousand koinobori (carp streamers) swim in the sky over the dry riverbed. During this spectacular scene the flapping sounds of so many streamers are musical. I saw a young couple performing “takai takai”—joyfully lifting a baby up in the air—under the carp streamers, wishing for the healthy growth of their child.（Taken May, 2023）
I took this picture from the promenade on top of Miyagase Dam, using a vari-angle monitor which makes angular adjustment possible and allows me to hold the camera away from me. I took the picture by stretching my arms off the edge as far as possible, and since I suffer from acrophobia—an intense fear of heights—I am nervous even I reflected quietly on this moment. Thanks to this convenient perspective, I was able to capture “the cable car incline” on the right of the photo during the dam’s only 6-minute water release for tourists.（Taken June, 2022）
The SL Ginga (the Galaxy) Tourist Train has been in operation since 2014 on JR Kamaishi Line. This special train began operation after the Great East Japan Earthquake trying to assist reconstruction and the revitalization of the regional economy. A lot of people were sad when its operation ended in June 2023, and they gathered to watch the last run and say good-bye. The conversation I had with local people while waiting for the arrival of the train was fun and memorable. I was touched to see many local people who gathered all the way carrying the banner saying, “Thank You SL Ginga”. This is a photo which I took with tears.（Taken June, 2023）
Inside Gifu Park there is a Sino-Japanese Friendship Garden which was constructed in the 10th anniversary of the friendship between Gifu City and Hangzhou City in China. The landscape is modeled on the West Lake in Hangzhou City, and its gate, fence and pergola are also constructed in Chinese style. A variety of plants representative of each season delight visitors, and the cherry blossoms in spring are especially beautiful, when petals flutter down and cover the entire surface of the pond. This is the scene I captured with my camera.（Taken April, 2022）
In May, spring festivals take place at many shrines in Imabari region. Among those festivals, the one at Ryu Shrine in Kuo district is a must see. This is a ritual called “Tsugijishi”, meaning the height of shishi (lion) is extended as other performers are lifted on shoulders, one on top of each other, while on a boat. It was a fine day when I took this picture. The highlight was the most difficult “Four-tired Tsugijishi” performance on a boat. A big round of applause was given to the repeated performance of this exquisite of this acrobat.（Taken May, 2023）
Momotaro Street is the main street of Okayama city, where electric tramcars operate. By the middle of September, the rays of lower-angled sun paint the street orange. Tramcars and automobiles were also glowing with the reflection of the evening sun, creating an impressive scene. When I took this picture, the tramcar heading for JR Okayama Station just passed in front of the setting sun at the Yanagawa Intersection, painting the inside of the tram car orange, with the passengers silhouetted in black. I could take a photo just conforming to my image.（Taken September, 2021）
A Mikoshi is a portable shrine that is usually carried on four or six poles, while the mikoshi of Susanoo Shrine is carried only on two poles. This arrangement allows the carriers to easily perform “mikoshiburi”, where the mikoshi is violently rocked to the right and left alternatively, and then proceeds ahead about 10 meters and then repeated. Therefore, it takes two days for the mikoshi procession to return to the Susanoo Shrine. The star of this festival is a carrier who carry the mikoshi from the center. I took this photo just when the carrier completed the role of “mikoshi togyo (a parade of mikoshi) ” and felt a great sense of accomplishment. （Taken June, 2023）
Kami-Shakujii Station is the nearest station to me on my commute. On its east side is a train depot, which I usually overlook. However, one holiday morning, I went to the place with my camera. The railways stretch from east to west, so depending on the season, the sun rises in line with the direction of the railways. This is the photo of the railways shining gold in the morning sun. They were dazzlingly beautiful.（Taken October, 2021）
|The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Award
|The Minister of the Environment Award
|“A Night at the Sunflower Field”
|The West Japan Railway Company President Award
|“Shinkansen Aglow with the Setting Sun”
|The Japan Travel and Tourism Association Chairman Award
|“Typical Mid-winter at Lake Inawashiro”
|“Never Give Up”
|“An Enchanted Mikoshi Parade”
|“Bus Stop” (A set of four pictures)
|“A Station during the Spring Rains”
|“Celebrating Mt. Fuji Day”
|“A Night with a Full Moon”
|“JR Suigun Line in Summer”
|“The Sky Aglow with the Setting Sun”
|“Road for Everyday Walking”
|“Competition of Drum Floats”
|“Asleep In the Starry Night”
|“A Spectacle of Dazzling Gorgeousness”
|“Under a Confetti Storm”
|“A Restaurant with a Spectacular View” (A set of three photos)
|“High, High, very High”
|“Cable Car Incline Is Back after the Corona Virus Pandemic”
|“Thank You SL Ginga!”
|“Swirling Cherry Blossom Petals”
|“Elongated Lion Performance on a Boat”
|“Momotaro Street Sunset”
|“Mikoshi Rocking Performance”
|“Golden Railway Tracks”
|Japan Traffic Culture Association
Director General Award
|the rails seemed
to stretch endlessly
|Comment by HASEGAWA Kai :
There was a time when railroads were not just a means of transportation, but vehicles that carried people’s dreams. Trains, diesel cars, and electric trains. . . . In every era, the rails led everywhere. Even into the distant future that we have yet to see.
on the net rack—
|Comment by HASEGAWA Kai :
An idyllic summer trip. The idea of “peace” on a net rack is interesting. The world today is not like this, but it seems that “peace” is maintained only on the train, on the net-shelf. This haiku expresses the wish that the peace on the shelf will last forever and spread all over the world.
|Mt. Fuji on a clear day—
I missed it
|MATSUSHITA Yoshihiko（MATUSHITA Hiromi）
on the train window
looking for Mt. Fuji in summer
|taller than the rainbow
over River Totsugawa
the two houses
|on this day when I celebrate
cherry blossom trip
is about to start . . .
|with no purpose
on a summer day . . .
|a mass of iron
mid-summer freight train
waves at me—
broad summer fields
|the branch line leads
to a military camp
|in the local train
with my post-operation eye
swaying in autumn
|to the right and left
of the switchbacks
of the crossing gate sees off
the summer train
swaying in the coolness—
the Kosei Line
|in the vast sky
looking for my hometown
At Traffic Culture Exhibition, which is held annually in fall at stations, Japan Traffic Culture Association also holds “SAKURYOKAI” , an exhibition to present works by representative artists of Japan. The artists with whom TAKI Hisao, Director General of our association has been interacting since 1970s participate in this exhibition. SAKURYOKAI implies “a society with full energy” as dragons going up the rapid river. Traffic Culture Exhibition is also an opportunity to be able to see works of leading artists in public spaces like stations.
In 2023, we had 12 Japanese-style painters, 8 Western-style painters, and 2 calligraphers participate in the exhibition.
Unfortunately, two long-time exhibitors, Mr. NOMIYAMA Gyoji passed away in June 2023 and Ms. SANO Nui passed away in August 2023. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to both of them for their contributions and cooperation to this exhibition, and we pray for their soulful rest in peace. The paintings of both teachers exhibited at this year’s exhibition were painted before their deaths for this year’s “SAKURYOKAI”.
(Titles are omitted. By section, Japanese syllabary order.)
Since 2013, the Transportation General Culture Exhibition has included a “Public Art Promotion Activities Special Exhibit” section to promote public awareness of public art. This exhibition corner introduces public artworks installed nationwide and the 1% for Art initiative. In addition, public art works by invited artists are also exhibited as a parallel exhibition.
The 2023 exhibition featured a total of six works, five of which the association planned and cooperated with during the year and one that was relocated, along with highlights and photos of the production process. It also introduced the structure and significance of the “1% for Art” legislation promoted by the association, with comments from experts on the legislation.
HONGO Yoshiya, the 27th recipient of the International TAKIFUJI Art Award, is a sculptor who works mainly in metal. As an invited artist, he presented an ambitious work based on the history and image of stained glass at the 70th “Traffic Culture Exhibition 2023.
1982 Born in Saitama Prefecture
2006 The 27th International Takifuji Art Prize
2007 B.F.A in Sculpture, Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts
2009 M.F.A. in Sculpture, Tokyo University of the Arts
He currently works as a sculptor and has exhibited his work in solo exhibitions and art festivals, as well as undertaking several commissioned works.
Harajuku, Tokyo is known to the world as a hub to create youth culture. Young people in the world are drawn to, and follow, young fashion, goods and design, and life style created in Harajuku. Harajuku is a “sacred spot” for Kawaii culture and we can say it is an originating place for “Japan is cool”. Along the platform of Harajuku station, there are 12 big signboards (height 3m, width 4m) that Japan Traffic Culture Association owns. Harajuku Fashion Joy Board Culture Festival is an event whereby big posters with social and cultural messages are posted on these big signboards and has become a seasonal tradition of Harajuku. Recent posters include “Bring Olympic and Paralympic Games to Japan!” and “Travel campaign to rediscover the charm of Fukushima” with a aim to bring back tourists to Fukushima prefecture damaged considerably by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March, 2011, getting attention of young people passing through the station.
At Harajuku Fashion Joy Board Culture Festival from April to October 2015, Japan Traffic Culture Association and Information-technology Promotion Agency have co-hosted a campaign called “Protect and foster IT society; Striving for realization of a reliable IT society”, in which Manga is used to appeal the importance of password strengthening to prevent unauthorized log-ins.
HONGO Yoshiya Sculptor