The water on my left with moored boats and calming waves, and on the other a row of buildings, some home to the common sight of vending machines outside, lights blinking away.
The island of Ojika would be my home where I would spend two months helping the owner of a modern ryokan with publicity for his business as well as the island's tourism.
I notice a few shopkeepers opening up for the day and as they glance up and catch my eye, they nod, smile, and call a cheerful ohayou gozaimasu (good morning) as I ride past.
Riding along the harbour side, I watch some of the early morning fisherman returning, a trail of sea birds on their tail.
The orange sunrise bursts over the mountains of the neighbouring island of Nozaki, colouring in the few low clouds in the sky and bathing the town and harbour in a warm glow.
Turning a corner between some shops, the breaks on my bike squeak a little as I manoeuvre my way through the narrow streets of the town.
Working on Ojika
The project discussed involved photography of the hotel for a new booking website, brochure and social media, as well as images of the local area and the island's attractions to appeal to both Japanese and foreign guests.
In addition to this I also suggested a set of 3 short videos from my time there to show how idyllic the island can be for a holiday or break from the busy city.
My morning routine usually consisted of editing whilst waiting for the best lighting conditions to capture photos of the rooms. Thankfully the windows were large and the decor bright and airy so natural light was perfect to illuminate the rooms.
The previous images he had been using didn't show the rooms off to their full potential so I wanted to really capture the feel of light and space in the ryokan.
During the afternoons (and between the unlucky few typhoons we experienced) I would cycle around the island looking for beautiful and enticing spots to photograph.
This wasn't too difficult as Ojika has many of them, the challenge was trying to see the island in a different way and capture photographs that varied from those I had seen already. This usually consisted of waiting for that perfect lighting or time of day to revisit.
Jinokojima Shrine and Torii Gates
Ojika Town Centre
Ojika has a range of different places to explore. From Madara Island in the west which is connected via a bridge and has the perfect sunset point, to Goryo Cliffs and Kakinohama Beach in the north.
Heading towards the east of the island, you can discover some beautiful stone torii gates and shrines and in the centre of the island is one of my favourite roads to cycle - 450 meters long and lined with tall pine trees.
The photos below are just a small selection of those I captured during my time on the island. From the early morning sun shining through a smokey haze, tall stone temple statues at sunrise, a dragon temple's intricate ceiling paintings, and the various shores and coastal views surrounding Ojika.
Although many of these shots were planned, some were purely due to having my camera with me at all times.
Most of the time I used a standard bicycle to get around the local area. For anything further (Madara Island, Goryo Cliffs etc.) I used one of the incredibly useful electric bicycles available.
Although some of the island is flat, especially in the south, it can quickly become hilly and in the summer heat an electric bicycle is a godsend. They're available for rent from the ryokan or at various other places.
During my stay on the island, I didn't only want to focus on photography. I wanted to capture life there in a different way too. Although images are essential when booking places to stay or in researching new things to do and locations to visit. Video is becoming equally as important.
So alongside covering many areas for his marketing with still images - both of his business and the surrounding rural setting, I set out with the DJI Osmo Pocket camera to create a series of three
videos to capture, as naturally as I could, three very different themes.
One of these videos covers the island's annual Aki Matsuri, Autumn Festival, capturing the atmosphere of the festival and how it brings the whole community together.
The focus has a slight leaning toward the foreign guests and workers as he wanted to emphasise the opportunity of being able to take part in such traditions if visiting around this time.
The second video, a bike ride, shows the stunning scenery and sense of freedom gained by exploring the island by bike. The long winding roads and fresh air is something I still have strong memories of from the long time I spent cycling and exploring.
The final of the three videos covers a day trip to the neighbouring island of Nozaki, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nokubi Church, abandoned villages and wild deer.