How did you become a photographer who decided to travel around the world?
I come from Japan and studied in Los Angeles. I lived in Budapest for a time and then took a fancy to the idea of travelling across Europe. It was October and I was looking to visit warmer regions and set off for Croatia, more precisely for Split. The city really inspired me to take up photography and I grasped then that what I wanted was to learn more about photography. As far as travelling goes, I just kept moving on and am now over a year and a half into my journey.
How was it that you decided to visit Istria during your travels?
My style of travelling involves remaining in one place for an extended period. So far, in Croatia, I have visited Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. Many people there recommended I visit Istria and told me that the towns were stunning, the food excellent and the people very friendly. This interested me and has so far been a great decision. It really is a unique experience.
In northwestern Istria you have visited the towns Umag, Novigrad, Buje and Brtonigla. What has impressed you most from our destination?
Along with Umag I have visited other towns in northwestern Istria. In Novigrad it was especially interesting to see many of the local people going about their customary everyday activities. I would highlight the town walls, which are an excellent subject for photography. In Umag I would pick out the shoreline and the promenade, the excellent cycling trails everywhere. I walked through the town at sunset and it really was something special. I was captivated by Buje, my first encounter with the beauty of the Istrian interior, and Brtonigla has a really delightful cuisine. It was my first chance to try a dish based on Boškarin beef with a wild asparagus sauce – very tasty and certainly to be recommended.
While visiting this destination you found accommodation in Umag. Are you satisfied with the services and the quality of the accommodation?
I enjoyed Umag and the accommodation. I stayed at the Sol Umag hotel and have only nice things to say about it. It’s the little things they do to show they care about their guests that make all the difference and are not common at other hotels.
Given that you have been in Rovinj for some time now and have also visited Poreč and Pula, are there any differences and singular things you would pick out about northwestern Istria in relation to the rest of the region?
In comparison with other towns in Istria I have had an opportunity to visit, northwestern Istria offers a more “local” flavour for people that really wish to try something outside the mainstream tourism offer. I saw a great number of cyclists in this part of the country, well developed maps and bike routes, which is why I think that this is an excellent destination for cyclists. I had a chance to shoot some photos in Grožnjan, Buje and Brtonigla – these are fascinating venues for photography buffs like myself. In Umag I have to say that I was impressed with the fact that there is free Internet access across the entire town, which is really practical given that I use social networking all the time.
Now that you have come to know our destination and the towns of Umag, Novigrad, Buje and Brtonigla, which form the northwestern Istria ColoursofIstria cluster, what do you think of the cluster concept?
I think that the fact that these four towns are working together in their joint appearance on the market is a good idea as it offers tourists all the best this part of Istria has to offer.
You have many fans on social networks and it could be said that you are a social media influencer. What does that mean to you and how does it impact your daily life?
Before I created my social network profiles, I could say that I was opposed to them. I did not like the idea of sharing personal information through these channels. Even now I do not share much outside of photographs, but I do see the advantages. It’s easier to communicate with a large number of people through this medium and I believe that, if I ever needed help, somebody would always be willing to offer it.
Given that you are aware of our social channels and have used the #ColoursofIstria designation on photographs even prior to arriving at our destination, what advice would you offer from the perspective of a social media influencer?
I think the Croatian National Tourist Board FB page is doing a great job; it has seen a big jump in the number of fans over the past two years. I think that is thanks to the sharing of content on the part of fans. I see that Colours of Istria also has a significant fan base on its Facebook and Instagram profiles – I particularly like the Instagram profile and the new discover.coloursofistria.com site that shows all the content posted by social network users with your hashtags.
What are your plans for the future?
For the moment, as a photographer, I am accepting offers that I receive, but my hope is to offer others my services by organising, for example, photo walks. It’s all still in the idea phase, but I may very well launch this right here in Istria, more specifically in the town of Buje. The next town I’m heading for is Zadar, after which I would like to visit Japan – to see the family and friends I haven’t seen for the past three years.
Do you plan to revisit northwestern Istria?