A line of water bottles warding off animal spirits. An abandoned theater in the red-light district. The world’s most dangerous fish on a chef’s cutting board.

In Summer 2012, a group of Photocommunications students traveled to Japan under the guidance of Professor Joe Vitone. While there, they put their cameras to work documenting a topic of their choosing. The resulting projects are as diverse and varied as the individuals behind the lenses.

We’ve asked four students to tell us about their time in Beppu, Japan. View a narrated slideshow of each of their favorite photos and hear them describe the experiences in their own words.

Ocean Town: Japanese Culture and Fish

Beatriz Posada ’13 likes to immerse herself wholly in the culture and the cuisine of her host country. She’s normally a vegetarian, but when she’s abroad, all rules are off. For her project, she started by exploring delicious Japanese food and spread her focus to include the importance of fish to the culture of Japan, an island nation that is dependent on the ocean around it.

Japan’s Fishing Industry: From Dock to Market

Hill White ’12 enjoys leisure fishing at home in the United States, but in Japan, he turned his attention to industrial fishing. With a new friend translating, he followed the journey of a fishing haul — from daily auctions at 5 a.m. to markets and restaurants where expert sashimi chefs ply their trade with a master’s hand.

Kendo: The Way of the Sword

Joe Arellano ’14 finds the rich history of Japan fascinating. He branched into sports photography — a new challenge — to document kendo. As he observed the Asia Pacific University kendo club, Arellano explored the intricacies and beauty of this ancient Japanese sword art and how much it means to its practitioners.

The Character of Beppu, Japan

Olivia Swales ’14 was struck by the mix of old and new in Beppu, which is inhabited by traditional (but spry) elders and young university students. She set out to capture what makes Beppu unique, from its eccentric shopkeepers to the red-light district for which the city is well-known. Along the way, she embraced the cultural quirks and traditions of her temporary home.