Photographing the traditional markets of South Korea has become one of my long-term personal projects. The narrow streets, the smoke and shadow and light, the faces and hands of the shop owners…all of these elements make the markets a kind of photographic treasure trove, and a challenge that keeps me coming back for more.
Last year, Octopus Publishing in the UK contacted me about a book project. The authors, Da-hae and Gareth West, run Busan BBQ, a food truck at London’s Street Feast. They had seen my market work, and they were interested in having me shoot photographs for their cookbook of Korean street food and homestyle cooking. The assignment was to spend a day in Seoul with Da-hae and Gareth as they ate and shopped their way through the city’s traditional markets and famous street food areas. I jumped at the opportunity.
I had a fantastic time seeing the Korean food scene through these chefs’ eyes, and of course, eating some great food. Now, a year later, I’ve received my advance copy of the book and I am ready to start cooking. From sauces and soups to bulgogi burgers and pajeon, this book has a ton of great recipes. If you love Korean food like I do, it’s a great way to learn to cook your favorite dishes like beokumbap (fried rice) and doenjang jjigae (soybean stew). But Da-hae and Gareth are super creative, too, so don’t expect just your standard fare. There’s Mango Kimchi and Korean Chilli Crab, Ramyun Chicken Buns and Gochujang Meatloaf. There’s also a drinking section, including a Kimchi Bloody Mary and something they call a “Grown-up Yakult”, featuring the ubiquitous sweet yogurt and soju (plus some other ingredients–but you’ll have to buy the book to find out). K Food comes out May 5, and you can pre-order your copy at Amazon.
View the gallery below for more pictures from my day with Da-hae and Gareth:
If you’re traveling to Japan, make sure to schedule your trip around the many festivals or matsuri that take place throughout the year. Nearly every city, town, village, and even neighborhood has its own festival, and they’re a great way to experience and learn about local music, food, art, and history.
Matsuri are often held in autumn, and serve as a celebration of the harvest (which explains all the great food you’ll encounter during your visit). Here in Nagoya, the city’s annual festival takes place over two days October, and features dozens of events, including J-Pop performances, samurai shows, and parades.
This was my first time shooting the Nagoya Festival, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had since moving to Japan. I hope the gallery below will inspire you to visit Japan and experience matsuri for yourself.
There’s no stop to the music during the festival. Here children play traditional flutes during a parade.
The clothing on display comes from several different historical periods. Here a young girl wears a kind of traditional Japanese dress for female travelers.
The energy brought by the performers makes the matsuri come alive.
History comes alive during the Nagoya Festival.
A samurai warrior leads the shogun’s horse during the parade.
Several J-Pop idol groups performed at this year’s Nagoya Matsuri.
Members of the J-Pop group P.IDL take a selfie before their performance.
If for nothing else, go to matsuri for the food. Here a vendor prepares beef skewers, or kushiyaki.
Okonomiyaki is a popular grilled Japanese pancake stuffed full of all kinds of goodness.
Try a chocolate covered banana on a stick for dessert.
There’s international food as well. Here a man serves Turkish ice cream to a festival-goer.
The Nagoya festival features parades on both days featuring dozens of cultural and civic groups and drawing thousands of spectators.
A ninja challenges the photographer during the parade.
You’ll see all kinds of traditional Japanese clothing from many historical periods. Here people wear a type of geta or wooden sandal.
People start lining up on the streets in downtown Nagoya well before the start of the parade. Here people watch as women on tall unicycles ride during the parade.
A traffic guard keeps the parade route clear.
Geisha performers walk during the parade.
Women wearing traditional Japanese clothes and carrying brightly colored umbrellas walking during the 2015 Nagoya Festival parade.