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Postcards from Japan: Islands of Japan with Ippei & Janine

Tokyo-based photographers Ippei & Janine (left), and together with their daughter, ready for a packrafting adventure (right)

Ippei and Janine are a Tokyo-based husband-and-wife photography duo (Ippei & Janine Photography) whose love for Japan’s hidden island gems makes them true experts when it comes to exploring the country’s most off-the-beaten-track destinations. Together with their 8-year-old daughter, they’ve travelled the country capturing dynamic and cinematic shots that candidly showcase outdoor lifestyle and Japan’s diverse natural beauty from both aerial and more intimate perspectives. We chat to this power couple about their professional beginnings, family life and they share some insight into the world lesser known.

The beautiful family of three enjoying some sunset beers (and juice!) on the beaches of the Kerama Islands (left) and a deserted tropical island in Okinawa (right)

Hey Ippei and Janine! Thank you for talking to us today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourselves?
We are an English-Japanese bilingual photographer duo based in Tokyo since 2006. Ippei is Japanese, originally from Tokyo; and Janine is Australian, originally from Melbourne. We found each other whilst we were both living in Amsterdam. 

Hiking in the jungles of the remote Iriomote Island, Okinawa

We specialize in cinematic style portrait and lifestyle photography capturing individuals, couples and families, for occasions such as proposals, engagements, weddings, maternity, newborn, etc., in addition to commercial/advertising photography. We are also passionate adventurers and we love exploring remote islands of Japan, and we have a website introducing some of our favorite islands which you can visit here

Nemo and Marlin in the sea anemones off Miyako Island, Okinawa (left) and one of many smaller, secluded islands in Tanegashima, Kagoshima (right)

We’d love to hear about how Ippei and Janine became ‘Ippei & Janine Photography’!  – what is your origin story?
We both have creative backgrounds, and we’ve both enjoyed photography together over the years, taking some commercial jobs periodically. It made sense for us to launch Ippei and Janine Photography and focus on lifestyle photography that we have a passion for.

Janine enjoying a beach campfire on Kikai Island, Kagoshima (left) and Ishigaki Island, Okinawa from above (right)

Janine, coming from Melbourne, what was the biggest culture shock for you when moving to Japan? And on the flip side, Ippei, do you have any stories to tell as a Japanese native visiting Australia?
Janine: Japan is so homogenous, which was quite shocking as it meant that you can miss out on so many things if you don’t speak the language. I was previously living in Amsterdam which is such a cosmopolitan city, and Japan is so opposite to this. 

Ippei: Although my wife is Australian, it took a few visits to understand the accent, especially in the countryside! :)

Ishigaki Island from above (left) and the great coral reef of the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa (right)

Your body of work is impressive and photography style, absolutely stunning! – Could you describe to us what it is you want to express the most through your photos and the thought-process leading up to a shot?
Thank you! We love to tell the story through our photos, and we strive for candid and genuine expressions. With photoshoots like engagement/wedding portraits or personal branding, it’s often only the ones right at the end when the subject is relaxed and thinks you’re done that they give the best expressions :)

Ippei and Janine's daughter, 'Little J' (left) and Iriomote beach, Okinawa from above (right)

Your daughter features a lot in your work which is really lovely to see; has she inherited the photography chops or is she more enjoying that modelling life?
Actually our daughter is always up for the challenge to take some shots of the two of us, and she’s very good at it! We explain the composition and how to incorporate the rule of thirds for example, and she often does a really great job. When she's in front of the camera she is happier if she's engrossed in something she loves rather than posing for photos, which evidently gives great results.

Jungle river packrafting on Okinawa's main island (left) and a waterfall bursting out of the dense jungle of Iriomote, Okinawa (right)

Out of all the islands you’ve explored, which is your favourite and why?
It's difficult to choose one as we've visited so many islands in Japan, and every island has its own charm. However, there are some islands that we visit regularly as we just love them. Iriomote Island is one of them, and it's definitely one of our favourites. It’s so untouched, from winding mangrove rivers, jungles with so many waterfalls, pristine beaches to coral reefs. It is truly a wild paradise for nature lovers. We even have a travel guide for Iriomote Island which you can check out here

'Big J' and a younger 'Little J' (left) and mangrove kayaking through the rivers of Ishigaki Island, Okinawa (right)

Do you have any advice or recommendations for families with children who want to explore the more off-the-beaten-path destinations of Japan?
Islands like Ishigaki and Miyakojima are the ones we often recommend as they have beautiful nature suitable for all types of families. These islands have a wide variety of options for adventures at all levels, and yet they are easily accessible with direct flights from major cities like Tokyo.
We highly recommend learning even just a few Japanese words or phrases as they will make off-the-beaten-path experiences easier, more memorable and more interesting. 

Snorkeling with a sea turtle, Miyako Island, Okinawa (left) and a coral cay in Sekisei Lagoon, Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park (right)

Thanks for chatting with us!

Thank you! - Ippei & Janine

If you would like to see more of Ippei and Janine's work, be sure to check out their instagram and website.

They also have a treasure trove of stunning photographs and in-depth information about some Japanese islands which you can access here, as well as personally curated recommendations for Tokyo Outdoor Day Trips.

Feeling inspired by all this island-talk and want to know more? Check out our blog post dedicated to Okinawan cuisine here or our interview with a cycling instructor living on the Goto Islands, Nagasaki here

Otherwise, stay up to date with all the latest happenings in Japan through InstagramFacebook or Twitter!

All images above courtesy of © Ippei and Janine Photography



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