Japan’s Sakura Spell

  • Japan’s Sakura Spell

    Sakura, meaning cherry blossom, is a magical time in Japan which declares the arrival of spring. For a precious few weeks, the landscape in anyone place transforms into an enchanted wonderland, as the cherry blossom front sweeps north across the country.

    The sudden appearance then disappearance of the delicate flower is said to echo life and in doing so has an important cultural significance. They bring with them a positive but reflective power. Beauty becomes how something makes you feel, rather than simply how it looks. The Japanese concept ‘Mono no aware’ describes this.

    In the same way, these images attempt to conjure an emotion about each place and the whole season. They use this period of time and tiny flower as a guide around central Japan, contrasting a deeply traditional but integrally progressive country.

  • Kyoto, Philosopher’s Path
    A lone Geisha glides along looking deep in thought. Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers, was said to practice meditation while walking this same route on his daily commute to Kyoto University.

  • Kyoto, Philosopher’s Path
    The beautiful walkway weaves along a canal lined with cherry blossom trees which explode with colour. Modernist architecture looks submissive in its ancient surroundings.

  • Kyoto, Saiho-ji (Moss Temple)
    Writing a letter asking for permission to visit the temple, followed by an induction ceremony, reveals some of the most spectacular gardens in Kyoto.

  • Kyoto, Nishikyo-ku
    Two friends breeze alongside the bank of a stream, in perfect colour co-ordination with their environment. The best dressed nation in the world?

  • Shirakawa-go, Ogimachi
    Concealed in a remote and dramatic mountainous landscape, the ramshackle, patchwork construction of this building could have been a carefully planned installation.

  • Kyoto, Nanzen-ji, Sanmon Gate
    Also known as Tenka Ryumon (the greatest Dragon Gate on earth). It is located at the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama mountains and is one Japan’s most important Zen temples.

  • Kyoto, Matsuo-taisha shrine
    A huge collections of sake barrels tower outside a shrine.

  • Kyoto, Philosopher’s Path
    Three Geisha laugh and giggle their way along the sakura lined walk. This is one of the city’s most popular hanami
    (cherry blossom viewing) spots.

  • Koya-san, Kongobu-ji
    Hundreds of monks slowly and silently make their way beneath falling snow and blossom, in perfect unison.

  • Koya-san, Torodo (Lantern Hall)
    The hall is a visually and emotionally powerful setting. Every lantern is placed there for someone that has died.

  • Kyoto, Gion
    As hundreds of people wander through beautifully illuminated, sakura lined streets after work, one lone worker remains in this office.
    It makes a case for looking around to gain perspective.

  • Kyoto, Philosopher’s Path
    Every person walking this route looked so deeply happy. As if the beauty of the environment made them incapable of feeling
    any other way.

  • Koya-san, Okunoin Cemetery
    Japan’s largest cemetery holds over half a million gravestones. This one
    is for an infant. It’s covered with clothes to ‘stop it getting cold’. Perhaps another interpretation of this would be, ‘to symbolize that
    we still care’.

  • Tokyo, Omotesando
    Extreme modernism. But form and function quarrel as the door doesn’t fit comfortable with the construction grid of the concrete.

  • Kyoto, Kyoto Station
    Kyoto’s impressive steel and glass station structure embraces the future as much as other parts of the city cherish the best of Japan’s past.

  • Kyoto, Ginkaku-ji Temple
    Also know as the ‘Temple of the Silver Pavilion,’ is a Zen temple with gardens supposedly designed by the great landscape artist Soami. A lacquer finish would have originally provided the pavilion with a silver appearance.

  • Tokyo, L_ B____ club
    The prevalent look; eyeliner, false eyelashes, coloured contact lenses, lip gloss and a Mona Lisa smile.

  • Tokyo, Shibuya
    There was a beautiful charm to this arcade machine with its gold studs and neon display. It looked like a view of the future from the 1980’s.

  • Tokyo, Mori Art Museum
    Watching this couples outfits and poses was as much entertainment as the exhibition.

  • Tokyo, Omotesando
    An intriguing relationship between the pompous looking minimalist façade and defiant display of underwear.

  • Tokyo, Mori Tower
    The view at dusk as night time Tokyo begins to wake.

  • Tokyo, Mori Tower
    60 seconds captured at sun down. The Tokyo prefecture is part of the world’s most populous metropolitan area with 35 to 39
    million people.

  • The Japanese Alps, Near Takayama Travelling down from the mountains to below the snow line, quickly reveals a coloured landscape not visible just ten minutes before.

  • The Japanese Alps, Kamikochi
    The accent of silver birch trees beats a visual rhythm along the side of the mountain.

  • The Japanese Alps, Kamikochi
    Absolute and complete silence, in a mountainous woodland buried under 3 meters of snow.

  • The Japanese Alps, Kamikochi
    Huge pristine snow drifts beneath the mountain forest, act as a canvass for the bright sunlight to paint its image.

  • The Japanese Alps, Kamikochi
    The exceptionally blue sky was made even more intense with the sparkle of the silver bark and bright white snow beneath.

  • The Japanese Alps, Kamikochi
    Hiking alone across a completely deserted mountain is made even more surreal with a find like this.

Ethiopia: The Passion of King Lalibela

  • Ethiopia: The Passion of King Lalibela

    Far away from the world’s preconceptions of Ethiopia, high in the mountains, lies the ancient settlement of Lalibela.

    Little known outside the country, hides a World Heritage site containing 11 interconnected rock hewn churches, carved into solid rock. Shrouded in mystery, it’s one of the countries holiest of places.

    It was founded by King Lalibela in the 11th century and intended to be the New Jerusalem. Almost the entire population is Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Incredibly, the whole site is still used daily for religious ceremonies.

    This series of images document the most important celebration in the calendar; Fasika, or Easter. The unique atmosphere created from the spectacular occasion and setting is unforgettable. The passion radiated from the gentle communities utter devotion to rituals close to a thousand years old, is unbelievable.

  • A lone women passes through the passage ways connecting the eastern block of Lalibela’s churches.

  • Three female worshipers walk through the Eastern group of churches on Good Friday.

  • Standing above Bete Giyorgis looking across one of the tunnels that spiral down into the church.

  • Easter Saturday is the most important day. Many worshipers will have been fasting for 55 days and not eaten or drank anything at all for a day and a half.

  • A Deacon listens to others chanting in The House of Saint Meskel.

  • Inside the sanctuary, a Bishop is surrounded by Deacons as they chant at 1am.

  • Chanting is accompanied by the shaking of gold rattles, the sound is magnified by the rock walls the tower above.

  • A woman prays before entering the deep rock excavation of Bete Medahne Alem church, believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world.

  • At midnight, some worshipers inside Medahne Alem church have been there for twelve hours.

  • At specific points in the worship, led by the Bishop and Deacons of each church, the congregation rise up and bow down in unison.

  • A woman listens intently to long passages being read by the Bishop.

  • A woman removes her shoes then bows in respect before entering Bet Abba Libanos church.

  • A ceremonial bell high on the top of a hill overlooking Lalibella is used to call people to worship.

  • A women enters one of the rock hewn churches in the Eastern block.

  • A group of women make there way through the entry tunnel to Bete Giyorgis.

  • A guard stands outside Bete Merkorios church. During Fasika, each church displays its most sacred artifact’s.

  • Outside Bete Giyorgis, a group boys dance in the trees.

  • High in the mountains, a thousand metres above Lalibela, a group of children celebrate an Easter tradition of swinging each other in an 800 year old fig tree.

  • A man pulls his reluctant livestock to the Easter market. After more than a month of fasting, feasting begins on Easter Sunday along with huge joy after the long build-up of suffering.

  • The easter market is the biggest of the year with around 10,000 poeple buying and selling livestock, garments and spices. This boy is proud to be selling the markets prize goats in prime position.

  • Crosses have special significants in Ethiopia. Each church has its own design.

  • At 2am after the Saturday mass, the bishop holds the churches solid silver cross. Moving quickly around the congregation he puts his hand on each head to bless them.

  • The Church of Saint Meskel is full of people holding candels, both inside the excavated building and from outside looking down from above.

  • Bete Medhane Alem is so full, a group of women fight to see the service from outside. They do so with so much grace and silence it is as if they aren’t there.

  • Deacon’s take it in turn to sing chapters from the scriptures over many hours. The main religious service takes place with the Paschal Vigil on Saturday night.

  • A man sits by himself outside one of the churches before midnight mass starts.

  • Two girls play between the legs of adults and get increasingly excited as candle get lit from one person to the next and the light fills the night.

  • A young boy strikes rhythm with a drum as a group of clegymen shake their golden rattles in time whilst singing and dancing as the service draws to a close.

  • Worshipers leave Bete Giorgis after another church on Easter Sunday morning. In the morning, after a rest, a sheep is slaughtered to commence the feasting.

  • Bitania, age 7, wears a traditional white dress which was bought especially for the Easter celebrations the day before.

  • In the mountains above the town, clove tea is prepared on a charcoal fire in a traditional Tukel hut.

  • Daragood-morgus (phonetically spelt), age 10, is a shepherd living and working in the mountains above Lalibela. High on a rock at dusk, he looks over his livestock.

Journeys to the Center of the Earth

  • Journeys to the Center of the Earth

    Despite the toxic ferocity commanded by this volcanoes epic pipeline
    into the earth, Kawah Ijen is an extraordinarily tranquil place with
    a breathtaking panorama.

    Hidden deep within East Java, Indonesia, locals set off before dawn
    into the crater to mine elemental sulphur. They make this trip twice
    a day carrying baskets weighing up to 100kg, up a 45 degree rock climb,
    through enveloping clouds of noxious gas.

    Apart from the impossible achievement these men make everyday,
    perhaps the most captivating aspect is the enduring relationship between
    human being and environment. The whole of evolutions challenge
    lay bare in this one place.

  • As frequently as every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, thick clouds of poisonous hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide silently burst out of the earth’s crust and fill Ijen’s crater.

  • The sun rises above the side of a neighbouring volcano and provides first light for workers, who have been making their way to this point since 4am.

  • One of the first miners to climb out of the crater, now starts his 3km decent down the flank of the volcano carrying around 80kg of sulphur. The background appears white as a cloud of poisonous gas passes, diffusing the light.

  • A group of miners carrying empty baskets walk around the rim of the crater to their descending point.

  • A view from the crater rim, looking across the bright turquoise crater lake a few hundred meters below.

  • Looking across the crater lake. On the pH scale measuring from 14 (being the most alkaline) to and 0 (being the most acidic), the sulfuric acid in the lake was measured to be an incredible 0.5. That’s about the same acidity as a Lead-battery acid.

  • Looking above the beautiful, perfectly calm, but deadly crater lake, as gasses drift across its surface.

  • A barren plant seems to contort in pain as it grows. A visual metaphor for what it must take to survive these harsh conditions.

  • A plume of gas erupts from the volcanoes vent.

  • Another emission of gas swirls around the crater. The point at which this gas escapes the earth surface is the point where miners collect their sulphur.

  • A miner on the rim of the crater before he cuts in left and starts his descent.

  • Further around the crater a piece of warn string blows in the wind to warn of the 250 meter sheer drop. Vital when gas clouds reduce visibility to zero.

  • The vent. The centre of the volcano at the edge of the volcano lake. Rising gasses from the earths crust are channelled through pipes and barrels and condense, resulting in molten sulphur. The deep red molten sulphur pours slowly from the end of these, cools and hardens.

  • A worker throws a bucket of water to help the condensation process, as clouds of hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide surround him. The gases are so concentrated they burn the eyes and throat.

  • A miner is forced to look away as a cloud of gas approaches. The wind suddenly changed it’s direction. It was so severe people had to be helped to safety; this meant precise positioning between the acidic lake, poisonous gas and 200 degrees Celsius molten sulphur.

  • The molten sulphur condenses, cools and hardens. This is then broken up by miners and placed into their baskets.

  • Miners protection from the gas recalls stories from history lessons, of troops protecting themselves from gas attacks in the first World War; They advise placing an area of a T-shirt into your mouth, then sucking spit and breathing through that.

  • A miner turns back to help another, showing him a better way to hold his basket and make the ascent.

  • This miners 80–100kg load is more than he weighs. The erratic rock surface and severely steep climb is made ever more difficult with the 35+ degrees and direct sunlight that blazes overhead.

  • This part of the journey involved a 5 meter near vertical climb. Timing is everything as attempting to make a particular stretch when a gas cloud passes could be fatal.

  • The weight of the load pushes deep down into the shoulders, despite overdeveloped muscle growth.

  • The most dangerous part, up and out of the crater now over, this minor reaches the rim and begins his descent of the volcanoes flank. A long, steep and gruelling, 3km away.

  • The vast majority of the minors smoke extra high strength Indonesian cigarettes which are mixed with cloves. The air is either thick with the poisonous gas or with the sweet intoxicating scent of the spice in the tobacco.

  • A further kilometer from the base of the volcano. Workers in a simple wooden shed melt the sulphur to further purify it before cooling and solidifying it on the stone floor then filling sacks to be transported.

  • The refinery shed, a kilometer from the base of the volcano.

  • A moss covered sign at the base of the volcano points towards the huge journey ahead.

Thingyan Water Festival

  • Thingyan Water Festival

    Burma has long experienced civil unrest. A population with a thirst for knowledge and fire in their souls, live in fear of the government. Leaders who ban many books, slaughter peacefully protesting monks, lock up advocates of democracy and use land mines against their own people.

    Contrast this with Thingyan. The most important public holiday in the Burmese calendar with origins in Hinduism. For one week, the whole country uses every container they can, to throw all the water they can, over every person they can. Home distilled alcohol flows as freely as sound from pounding speaker stacks. The countries utter ecstasy is hypnotic. As if the water supply used in the festivities were drugged.

    Seeing this polarity of emotions reminded me of stories of ancient Rome. Emperors who continued to put on the lavish and costly gladiatorial games, as spectacles to draw the publics attention away from worsening conditions. A safe, controlled emotional release.

  • A group of men dance in front of a stage in the city of Mandalay, as water is pumped out of a moat through a network of hoses onto the street.

  • A few affluent teenagers dance and play air guitar on their car as it’s driven through the water logged streets.

  • Jokers try to fight a powerful hose with small bottles of water, in a scene that looks similar to a riot.

  • There was a large percentage of the crowd dressed in Goth clothes and makeup. This man’s tongue was actually stained red from chewing Betel leaf. A mild stimulant.

  • Up on one of the stages in a VIP area, the network of hoses is held by a group young at heart adults and children.

  • One member of the growing crowd turns back to take a breather.


  • Many cars deliberately head towards the biggest hoses to feel the fullest effect of the cities moat.

  • A man with a small child narrowly avoids being knocked off their moped as they are blinded by a jet that is targeted at their face.

  • A young girl gets direction over who to soak.

  • Dancing is constant, euphoric and feeds the collective mood.

  • A young girl and her friends use a found drinks container to soak me as i pass.

  • The water in the street reaches this boys knees, as torrents of water fall on him from above. This doesn’t dissuade him from patiently filling his water pistol over many minutes.

  • For once, the fear induced by seeing the presence of the army is overcome by the exuberance in the atmosphere.

  • An old women battles to cycle home as dusk falls.

Nigerian Dambe

  • Nigerian Dambe

    Dambe is a martial art indigenous to the Hausa people. Once it originally prepared fighters for war but today its alive across West Africa as a sport. Entertainment for crowds, prestige for its champions.

    Invisible to the passer by, the provincial market at Dei-dei, close to Abuja, hides a thriving scene that sees bouts everyday.

    Inside a packed arena, fighters move around each other wielding their armoured fists, poised to attack. Each blow potentially deadly.

    These images investigate one bout. Tension mounts as the reliance between fighter and audience increases. Without one there would be no other. Like the battle of emotions experienced within the arena; Pleasure vs pain. Faith vs fear. Hope vs hopelessness.

  • Two fighters crouch down and extend their unwrapped hand to test their reach and tempt the other opponent to make a move. Matches last three rounds. There is no time-limit to these rounds. Instead, they end when either; there is no activity;  one of the participants or an official calls a halt; a participant’s hand, knee, or body touches the ground.

  • ‘Talking drums’ provide a sound track and intensity to the event.

  • Team members of one of the fighters stand at the edge of the arena. Some of them fought earlier on in the evening. The nearest fighter wears charms around his neck and the scars on his forearm are where he has cut himself and rubbed in medicines.

  • Fighter’ fists are covered in a piece of cloth that feels starched.  This is secured with a cord flax which is wrapped tightly around the fist and lower arm. It feels as solid as stone to touch. Stories have been told about some boxers who dip this prepared fist into resin and then into sand or broken shards of glass to increase its effectiveness as a weapon.

  • The two men stand in the middle of the arena in complete concentration, both looking for an opening to the others defence.
    The sound of the talking drums mimics their heartbeats.

  • At the end of each of the three rounds, fighters have a team member who tears open a packet of purified drinking water, sucks the contents out, then sprays the fighters face and body to refresh him. The temperature for this bout were a normal 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • The drummers are connected to sound system run by a small generator. The combination of changing the pressure on the drum skin and using the drum stick produces a surprising breadth of sound. It is loud, layered and staccati.

  • Each match has a referee. This man was dressed almost as a ‘clown’ with exaggerated large wrapped fist and decorated fabrics and charms.

  • A crowd member makes her way across the arena between bouts.

  • A supported of one of the fighters moves around to get a better view of the action as tension mounts.

  • The two fighters stand with fists ready, poised to attack in the centre of the area. Stances and stares lock in what can feel like minutes before a strike. A local photographer watches to the left of the frame.

  • The attacker breaks the deadlock with a powerful blow, throwing himself forward and arching his fist over his head.

  • As well as kudos, the winning fighter gets a ‘money shower’. This man changes larger naira notes to smaller ones for audience members to throw over the winner. This large bundle of 5 Niara notes is roughly equal to £8 GBP or $13 USD.

  • As well as the fighter collecting the money, children and the referee ‘help’ him collect his winnings too.

  • After the money shower the crowd closes in to listen to the fights announcer. Just as anywhere else in the world, children naturally group together and interact by age.

  • The announcer concludes the days fighting, the only light behind him and powered by the small generator which also boosts his microphone.

Being Seen at Mardi Gras

  • Being Seen at Mardi Gras

    Sydney’s annual Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, culminates in the
    world-famous Parade. From as early as midday, crowds begin to line Oxford
    Street, the main artery which snakes through the city centre.

    By early evening the assembly swells to more than 10 people deep along
    the entire distance. All eyes flitting between the thousands of flamboyant
    individual and group participants that begin to parade the route.

    The LGBT community assert that homosexuality has ‘gone mainstream’,
    but to me this great forum for expression is less about sexuality as such
    and more about learning to celebrate individuality. The necessity of
    embracing difference.

    Meaningful connections between people only occur when you allow
    yourself to really be seen. Welcoming each others vulnerabilities so that
    we can engage in meaningful relationships and live with authenticity.

  • Concealed by the large crowd standing behind them, two boys in ancient Egyptian costumes watch the parade pass at the top of Sydney’s Oxford Street.

  • The or LGBT or ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans gender’ rainbow flag frames another word used to describe the gay community.

  • A natural performer basks in camera flashes.

  • High above the Street, a group of men have prime viewing of the whole show down below.

  • Detail from a passing float.

  • One group performs a routine incorporating many turns with the Australian flag.

  • People take a detour along the quieter back street behind the main road. Many using this new found space as an opportunity for a parade of their own.

  • The variety of represented cultures and subcultures was breath taking.

  • A group of girl friends stand in a line on milk crates to view the procession more clearly.

  • The parade finishes late in the evening and the crowd begins disperse. The atmosphere still electric. A group of teenage girls readjust their outfits and head towards the after parties.

  • Inside an exclusive after party, a picture on the wall looks towards three friends as they giggle and people watch themselves.

  • People often say that alcohol or drugs liberate them into relaxing into themselves. The entire day seem to have this effect during Mardi Gras.

Further Information

Everything-Everyone is both a love song and lament to the world. An ongoing body of work by London based photographer
Tom Hardy, resulting from his fascination for understanding how we live and interact with each other and our environment.

Seemingly unrelated, each narrative offers a profoundly different perspective. Closer inspection reveals more similarities
than differences. Contrasting insights allow us to focus on what is constant; the emotions we see and are made to feel.
Poignant but magical, each potent story acts as a meditation to somewhere and someone else’s reality. The intent being
to inspire deep empathy and to help expose the connection between everything and everyone.

To find out more and to buy limited addition prints, please contact Tom directly.

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