Thoughts at Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido

I often see similarities between one place in the world, and another. 

 Me photographing at the edge of beautiful lake Kussharo, Hokkaido Japan, December 2015.

Me photographing at the edge of beautiful lake Kussharo, Hokkaido Japan, December 2015.

I've been on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan for the past week or so, and I have been surprised to find that the landscape here often reminds me of Patagonia. For example, on the shores of lake Kussharo, I found myself thinking I was somewhere in Torres del Paine national park. This is in part because of the weather but mostly it was because the shoreline was black volcanic sand and the vegetation scattered around the edges were also similar to what I've seen in Patagonia.

But the similarities didn't end there. In northern Hokkaido, in the town of Wakkanai, a small fishing town situated on the coast, I felt that I could have been in Punta Arenas on the edge of the Magellan straight. Both towns have an 'end of the world' feeling to them. Tinned roofed buildings, rusting industrialisation scattered in the fields, and the low flat coast line with a sea that could be a channel, or an ocean. Punta Arenas and Wakkanai were inseparable in my mind.

 Laguna Armaga, Patagonia. Image © Stacey Williams (thanks stacey!)

Laguna Armaga, Patagonia. Image © Stacey Williams (thanks stacey!)

Perhaps though, the reason why I see so many similarities between different places in the world is much simpler than I may imagine: it might be a case that I'm drawn to those places because they are comfortably familiar to me: they resemble my own country of Scotland in ways that are not immediately apparent to me. I may be just be drawn to places because underneath - they offer the same things. Similar weather, similar terrain. Ultimately, they offer something deeply comforting because I 'understand' or 'know' them so well.

But I think it's really just that the more I travel, the more I will be prone to draw comparisons between places. It's unavoidable really. 

Either way, I enjoyed seeing the resemblances. It allowed me to look more closely than I would if I was just a normal tourist, and it's also very comforting to experience a sense of familiarity while I'm on my travels: everywhere feels like home.

Hokkaido is perhaps a place I will be returning to from now on.