[MIYOSHI JIN] Freelance photographer Toyohiro Ohgaki – Conveying the world as he sees it



Freelance photographer Toyohiro Ohgaki lives in the Ikawa-cho area of Miyoshi, and he has taken many beautiful photos that will make you gasp in wonder. Ohgaki has already received much acclaim: 

  • Winner – 12th Kaigo Sakubun / Photo Contest 
  • Winner – 2nd Naruto City Instagram Photo and Video Contest 
  • Work selected for exhibit at Tokushima Shimbun Reader’s Photo Concours, and other works provided
  • Work found in Wakeboarder Magazine, international competitions, magazines and other posters, flyers, and signs.

He really looks at home with a camera held firmly in his hands, eye gazing through the viewfinder. He bought his first single lens reflex camera in 2014 after seeing some photos from an acquaintance, and started just taking pictures of everything.

Conveying the world as he sees it

Everyone looks at things differently. The fun of photography is not just in taking pictures, it is in capturing a single moment in time, hanging it on a wall, and giving it to others to enjoy. Photos are not only records; they are also memories, and Ohgaki believes there are many ways of enjoying photography.

Ohgaki has taken many photos that grab the hearts of tourists visiting from within Tokushima, from other Japanese prefectures, and from around the world. Many of those photos capture the living soul of this land, and can be found on Ohgaki’s various social media profiles. He uses his pictures to publicize local water sports and to spread the word about the area in his own way and express his feelings for his home. His work will surely lead to a much better future for the city.

Miyoshi, Tokushima – Spreading the appeal of the area

This city has numerous tourist destinations that harness the natural environment of the area. Ohgaki hopes that locals will see his photos and be re-introduced to great places to see and post about them on social media. Others will see those posts, want to visit, and then those people from other places will spread the word about how amazing Miyoshi really is.

Ohgaki recently realized that the spread of social media lately has made it easier for people to rediscover places from new perspectives, and photos are a part of that.

Kazura Bridge – A rich tourism resource

Ohgaki has pressed the shutter button countless times facing every which way, and he chose for us one photo that he thinks best represents the silence and dignified beauty of the region.

For him, what he likes most about Miyoshi is the allure of its natural environment throughout the year. In the Iya Valley, people can enjoy the beautiful scenery year-round, from the verdant greens of spring, to the red leaves of autumn, and the wondrous winter landscape. On the Yoshino River, visitors can enjoy water activities they can’t experience in urban centers, like rafting, wakeboarding, and stand up paddleboarding.

What does Miyoshi offer that can’t be found in the big cities? Simply put, nature.

The mountains are beautiful. The rivers are beautiful. The lakes are beautiful. The valleys are beautiful. Ohgaki’s passion, and his photographs, make me want to take the time to look at all of the beautiful things in the region once more.

As we talk, I mention how pretty I find Miyoshi, and mention that it is very soothing. Ohgaki responds that people who were born and raised here often say that they don’t understand how great it is. But, as a transplant who moved to the area years ago, there are many surprisingly wonderful things in Miyoshi that he has never seen elsewhere. 

Home to unlimited treasure

“The things you see and feel, the relief you feel when you first move here and realize just how close people are, living in the middle of all this magnificent nature…when you sit back and relax and think about it, you realize that you aren’t just alive, this place helps you truly live,” Ohgaki explains. 

It’s a place where your thoughts delve deep. His words continue to reflect his passion.

“It may be a cliché, but I’m just glad I moved here. I hope more people will become captivated by Miyoshi like I was, so that more people find homes here, the population increases, and the town grows. If people move, the town will move. I hope we can make that happen. I want to publicize the many nature activities we have, and develop the area to offer experiences that can’t be found anywhere else, and make the city more attractive to visitors. We can’t rely only on government policy to do that. We have to care about our town, and build the town we want through a collaboration between the people and the government. Those rich natural resources will be the pride of the town’s next generation of children, so I want to protect it for the future.”

He wants us to cherish every feeling and connection obtained through his photos, and wants his photos and videos posted to Instagram to “shine.” In Japan, there is a phrase that has become popular recently – “Insta-shine” – which basically means to be “Instagrammable” or something that is sure to be very popular on the site. Many people reach for those spots at the top of the Instagram popularity charts, which are mostly held by young people. 

Miyoshi is roughly located in the middle of the island of Shikoku, and there are many fields here, both producing food and lying fallow. Ohgaki is thinking about how to create places that can be “Insta-shine” spots by working with other locals and planting flowers or doing other things. He feels that there are many resources that can be transformed into tourist attractions.

He is not focused on simply taking pretty pictures to show how wonderful Miyoshi is and could be. As a freelance photographer, Ohgaki wants his photos to help provide a path to a better future for Miyoshi.

Freelance photographer Toyohiro Ohgaki

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/every222/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toyo.ohgaki

(Interview and article: Yuriko Yasunaga)