Since setting out in 2011, Mariko Yamamoto has photographed over 300km of the Kumano Kodo - an ongoing undertaking that she has made her life’s work. In 2017, a collection of her photographs was published by Nippon Camera under the title Kumano Kodo wo Aruiteimasu..
After graduating with an architectural degree from a college of science and engineering, Yamamoto went to work for a design company. One spring at the age of 25, she said to herself, “What I really love is photography;” so, she grabbed her camera and set off on a wandering journey which ended up becoming a career in photography. In her photos, Yamamoto seeks to capture a sense of “airy” space. She is active in a diverse range of endeavors, including photography, writing, speaking, teaching and television appearances. She has authored ten books, including Eari-foto no Torikata Reshipi. Her favorite things to eat are curry and squid.
And it has been eight years since the Kumano Kodo captured my heart. I have visited the area more than 30 times and have photographed more than 300km of the Kumano Kodo routes. As I walk along I think about all of the interesting and exciting things packed into these routes that are not found in guidebooks. Of course there’s the beautiful scenery, but there’s also the special joy of meeting people along the way. For example, I have met people who offer words of encouragement for my journey; people who realize I must be hungry and offer me something to eat; and even people who are happy to give me a place to sleep for the night. It truly fills me with joy to meet people who treat my journey along the Kumano Kodo as if it were their own journey. I want to use the stories I tell with my photographs as a way of repaying the warmth that people have shown me. I want to share the beating heart of the Kumano Kodo with people far and wide. I want to tell the people of Japan; I want to tell the people of the world. The trip there are back from my house is more than six hours each way, and I am growing to love it more and more each day. My journey along the Kumano Kodo continues on.