I got to know Aron many years ago, back when I was still running my cafe. I think it was through our blogs that we met. At that time, Aron was an extremely popular blogger, and his writing and photographs of Japan already revealed the light and airy sensibility that I love very much about his work today.
Sometime last year, while on (yet another) visit to Tokyo, I decided to meet with Aron. He seemed like he would be a really cool guy to hang out with, and I was right! On the day we met, he came all the way to the train station so he could accompany me to his apartment. And when he opened the door to his apartment, I was blown away. It was like stepping into another world.
Enjoy our little conversation below. We talked about a lot more (in fact we talked for about 3 hours, I think, because there was just so much to talk about - it was so comfortable it felt like we had been friends for a long time) but here is an extract, and I hope it, together with the photographs, gives you a sense of the life that Aron has so lovingly built for himself.
Hi Aron! Can you tell us a little about what you do? What is your job in Tokyo?
Hello!! I came to Japan with a working visa and teach English to adults. It's a conversation school and all my lessons are one on one. It's for working adults and also some teenagers and university students, so I don't actually teach children. Even though my hobby and love is photography, my job as an English teacher is quite fulfilling and I love my job as it's different everyday. My students are fun and also have become my friends in some cases!
How long have you been living in Tokyo? Also, what made you decide to move to Tokyo? (Since you were originally from Hawaii!)
As of March 2017, I've been here for three and a half years. I've always wanted to live in Japan since I was a young child and I thought after I graduated university and worked some years and saved up money, I'd finally make my move. And it was the best decision I ever made! I will always love Hawaii and I'm so proud to be from Hawaii, but my life there was quite small. I take after my father, so I'm quite adventurous and wanted to see what else the world had to offer me!
Let's talk a little about your photography. You have so many followers on Instagram. Do you think of yourself as a photographer?
I do... but not so professional in any sense. It's become my hobby that I so happen to be "good" at, with the validation of an influx of Instagram followers. But there are so many other photographers out there that are much more seasoned, with all the latest equipment, and also pure professionalism, but they may not have as many followers as me and that doesn't make them any less of a photographer. And more so, just because I have more followers than the average person, doesn't mean I'm a photographer as well. I'd like to think of myself as a "budding photographer." I have so much more growing to do.
What do you look out for when you shoot?
That's so difficult to explain because what catches my eye can vary in lighting, atmosphere, subject, space, etc...I couldn't say one specific thing qualifies as "photogenic" because that wouldn't be fair. But I guess a reoccurring theme I have in all my photos is bright light. A well lit and spacious environment is always pleasing to me.
Do you have any favorite spots to shoot at in Tokyo?
Not really, no. Hahaha! I actually don't venture around Tokyo as much as I did when I first moved here. It's actually the chances I have when I travel OUTSIDE Tokyo, to do most of my photo shooting. But I do have friends and loved ones by the ocean side in Kanagawa, so I always bring my camera when I'm out there.
Can you share with us what you love about living in Japan?
Japan attracted me from a very young age, growing up in Hawaii. Specifically, movies like "Megane" really grabbed my attention to the soft and quiet side of Japan living. Sure Tokyo is fun for shopping and eating, but the more simple and quiet home and country life of Japan is more beautiful for me. And now that I live here, the things that make me so appreciative to call this place my home is: quality, courtesy, safety, and cleanliness.
Your home is really beautiful. What inspired you to design in this way?
Thank you Rebecca! I've always had a passion for interior design. Even looking back at my rooms in Hawaii growing up, I was always proud of the way I set up my personal space. Again, going back to Japanese aesthetics, I would watch a lot of Japanese films and also buy a lot of Japanese interior magazines that helped shape my interior preferences: Simple, white (but with pops of ethnic color), plants, wood, and sunlight. That's my room in a nutshell.
Do you have a life philosophy?
Deep question! Hmmmm... I guess the number one thing my parents always instilled in me, above all is: kindness. They always told me it doesn't matter how rich or successful you are; if your heart isn't good, then nothing will fall into place. During my early years of living in Japan, I found God through some very rough times in my life. So prayer saved my life too. I always try to count my blessings and not my problems. Also, I love the quote from Toro Y Moi's song 109: "Nothing is the worst and no one is the best."
What do you love about photography?
I love how it shows every photographer's individual eye and aesthetic. You could give 10 photographers one subject to take a picture of, and everyone's end result will be completely different.
I love how it's a form of art and history. Documentation for visual minded people.
I love how accessible it is to most people.
And I love how permanent it can be. Literally capturing time.
Do you have any current or future creative plans or projects you can share with us about?
I'm actually a huge procrastinator, I'll admit. So my ongoing goals are to make a photo book (hopefully to be sold in stores one day), and also a little gallery / exhibition in Tokyo. So we'll see!