This article originally featured in the April 2020 issue of Connect.

Laura Pueringer (Akita)

Living in Akita Prefecture for the second time in my life, I have found inspiration in just about everything I see around me. The trees in Akita seem greener than anything I’ve ever seen before. The air is clean and crisp. The people are kind and caring. The mountains are always in the distance, begging for adventurers to give them a climb. The crows are loud and unapologetically present in a glorious way. Life here is so much like life back home, and yet so different at the same time.

I grew up never without a pencil in my hand and notebook in my bag. As college came and went, I realized I had fallen out of touch with my artistic side. After first coming to Akita four years ago for study abroad, I found myself constantly inspired and excited by the world around me. When I spoke with loved ones back home, I realized that I couldn’t quite convey the beauty of the place I was living in, so I started to take pictures to share with them. I started off using just my phone camera, and slowly evolved into a bigger and better camera. As I tried to capture the scenery around me, I began to connect with the side of me I had lost in the hurry of trying to get somewhere fast.
Tohoku has become my second home, and I want to slow down and appreciate every moment while it lasts.

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Although I am new to photography, I’ve found a great amount of love for it. There is something so magical and amazing about being able to share my stories through the photos I’ve taken. My tales of living in Japan seem so much more concrete and tangible when there is imagery to go with them.

In my photography, I want to capture moments in time as I see them. I have developed a love for traveling and experiencing new places, foods, and traditions everywhere I go. I take photos of the things I do so that I can not only share them with others, but also to be able to preserve my memories in a physical way. When I look back on photos I’ve taken, sometimes I remember details I had forgotten, or I can relive the moment I took the photo. I take photos of nature and places mostly, although my love for Akita dogs does tend to sneak in there quite a bit too. Snow and leaves will disappear, but the impression they leave on me won’t. I may not visit a place more than once, but I will always remember how I felt while I was there. That is what I want to capture in my photographs.

Japan has taught me how to adventure beyond my comfort zone, and how to cherish the small things, like snow falling on the ground, or the sunlight peeking through the trees up a staircase to a shrine tucked away in the mountains.

If you’d like to see more of my journey in Japan and beyond, I upload to my Instagram regularly about places I’ve visited and foods I’ve eaten. I also write on my blog about things to do and life here in Akita Prefecture. I have a Society6 where prints and other items with my photographs are available for purchase. I hope to be able to carry the inspiration and creativity that I have rediscovered in Japan forward in my life and share what I’ve been blessed to experience with others.

A Minnesotan girl living in Akita Prefecture, Laura Pueringer is a second-year senior high school ALT in the JET Program.