tohoku workshop special edition | fukushima | aizu | mt. bandai | shinyong lee | shiho mikuni a japanorama production | www.stekkizine.com
september 2013 < japan, fashion, photography, lifestyle, life
素敵 すてき su-te-ki /ste ki/
adjective: beautiful, great, lovely, splendid, wonderful, nice
credits EDITOR IN CHIEF /DESIGNER Alfie Goodrich. PROOF READERS Paul Church, Ron Inman CONTRIBUTORS/PHOTOGRAPHERS Paul Church, Damien Dâ€™Angelo, Alfie Goodrich, Ron Inman, Henrik Jaeger, Akiko Masuda, Celia Rae, Ben Torode
SPECIAL THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Hiromi, Joe, Ami and Charlie [for putting up with and supporting me throughout the years], Gianluca Carrero [for the initial magazine template design], Matthew Lamb [for that chat in tbe van, on the way back from Kinugawa]. Very special thanks to my daughter Ami for accompanying me on the research trip in March: for standing out in the cold on the coast, driving with me for hundreds of kilometers to find locations and for modelling.
Produced by Alfie Goodrich and Japanorama www.stekkizine.com www.japanorama.co.uk
index TOHOKU WORKSHOP SPECIAL EDITION SEPTEMBER 2013, N°02
CONTENTS 6-7 8-15 16-17 18-31 32-37 38-43 44-61 62-79 80- 97 98-99
Editorial The Research trip: scouting & planning the workshop Terminal Velocity from Tokyo: an introduction by Ron Inman Route14: the first location of the weekend Down by the River on Route 20 The Mountain, The Bus & The King of Grim Land, Lake, Peak, Skies: the countryside of Lake Inawashiro, Bandai & environs Minamihama Mamas: models by the lakeside Moments of Reflection in the tsunami zone ‘Parting Shot’ by Paul Church
Shiho Mikuni poses in the dilapidated bus on Route 20, Fukushima. Photo by Alfie Goodrich 6_stekki
this second issue of Stekki* has been a while in the pipeline and is the first edition to feature work by photographers other than myself. In this case, a collection of photography enthusiasts who accompanied me and my eldest son on a workshop to Tohoku back at the end of April: Salvador Alvarez, Paul Church, Damien D’Angelo, Ron Inman, Henrik Jaeger, Michael Martin, Akiko Masuda and Celia Rae. Accompanying our merry band of snappers were models Shinyong Lee and Shiho Mikuni. Tohoku and especially Fukushima are very special to me. My wife was born in Fukushima and the area was my first experience of Japan outside of the big city, when I first visited 14 years ago. Fukishima has been through a lot and it’s still going through a tough time, with everything going on at the Dai Ichi nuclear powerplant. That accident has effectively turned the name, reputation and future of Japan’s third largest state to mud. I used to need a map to ex-
plain where my wife came from. I don’t anymore. Whenever the word Fukushima rolls off of my tongue, I see faces change. Despite the challenges, I keep going back. My wife’s home-town of Ishikawa-machi is far enough inland from Dai Ichi to be relatively safe: airborne radiation levels are about double what you’d get in Tokyo. And it was in Ishikawa that our group started its workshop, moving west to Aizu and the area around Lake Inawashiro for the second leg of shooting. The workshop ended with a trip to the tsunami-stricken coast north of Iwaki. I’ve been there many times, before and since 3/11. For almost everyone else, it was their first experience of the disaster zone. Needless to say it was a sobering end to a wondefully creative weekend and there are a few shots from the coast at the very end of this issue. I hope you enjoy the photographs. It was a pleasure to organise the trip, help people get great shots and see everyone’s individual take and creativity on what is a very unique and wonderful part of Japan.
WELCOME TO STEKKI
Alfie Goodrich, Editor in Chief Photograph by Ben Torode
â€œLocation-scouting is an essential part of the planning process for a shoot. Critically, it helps all those involved in the shooting beging to pre-visualise the end results....â€? Photos & text: Alfie Goodrich
> Swans congregate near the shore of Lake Inawashiro, attracted by visitors offering food.
Nikon D700. Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 ED IF
< < Above and right: location-scouting photos from Minamihama beach, the avalanche protection tunnel and nearby Konanmachi lakeshore.
esearching is the logical way to prepare for anything and photoshoots aren’t any different. If a client is paying me to deliver something for them, I put my all into it to make sure everything is taken care of. Sure, you can never completely plan for every eventuality. No one in their right mind would expect you to. But having a good handle on as many of the variables as possible is exactly what being a pro is all about. On my research trips I do, of course, take my proper cameras and a bag-full of lenses. I want to be able to see the scenes in front of me in various ways, examine the potential for wide shots, bokeh, the telephoto, I also use a the iPhone a lot. Not only is it quick, good quality and very portable, every picture has GPS embedded into it and together with a handy little free app called ‘Koredoko’ I can see all my location pics on a map and export meta-data [including longitude and latitude] so that clients - or in this case students - can see exactly where I took them. The iPhone also levels the playing-field, photographically speaking. If a place looks good through the phone camera, it’s gonna have great potential when the real gear comes into the mix. The other huge part of pre-visualising the shoot is the ‘mood board’: a montage of model shots, location snaps and ‘mood images’, which gives client and student alike a grasp on some of the important elements of the photographic journey we’re about to undertake. Not everything turns out like it starts on the mood-board. But inspiration ahead of the time you are going to spend in the field is a great head-start to getting the inspiration you’ll need to nail the shots whatever conditions you find on-site.
< One of the â€˜mood boardsâ€™ that was made before the shoot to introduce models, locations and broad concepts of the workshop.
LET THE PRE-VISUALISATION COMMENCE! This page: the old bus on Route 20 was just begging for a model shoot. Opposite: a selection of iPhone & DSLR shots from Minamihama, Route 14, Route 20 and Konanmachi.
REACHING ESCAPE VELOCITY FROM TOKYO Formerly a serving, uniformed member of the US Navy, Ron Inman is now a civilian publicist and photographer at the Yokosuka Naval Base just south of Tokyo, Japan. Here he gives us his thoughts and overview of the Tohoku workshop.... introduction and photo by Ron Inman 16_stekki
he Tohoku workshop was a great opportunity to reach ‘escape velocity’ from Tokyo, meet a diverse group of people and together, expand our horizons as photographers. With Alfie Goodrich as our driver, guide and teacher, we loaded ourselves, our gear and all the konbini food and drinks we could manage into a big van and and hurled ourselves into a part of Japan that we had heard much about on the news, but didn’t really know. It helped that we all got along straight away, the locations were varied and inspiring, and that our models, Shiho and Shinyong, were (and are) truly professional. Seeing them repeatedly handle intense cold and winds during the shoots and quickly complete numerous costume, hair and makeup changes helped us to appreciate the challenges that
models face during a shoot – while still getting just the right pose and the right look to achieve the creative team’s vision. I think that was one of the key lessons learned over the weekend.
leveled homes where families had died.
There was a preschool in a cave just 300 meters from the beach that had been destroyed. But there were also signs of hope – new conThe details taken struction, and peocare of, we were able ple returning to the to concentrate on beach for recreation. evaluating each location, with Alfie providing helpful tips I think we all learned while we shot and got that as photogracomfortable work- phers, we sometimes ing with the models. have a responsibility to document the world we encounter ...a great with a compassionopportunity to ate and respectful eye. meet a diverse On the way back to group of people Tokyo, we enjoyed a final meal together and together before heading back expand our with full memory cards, new friends horizons as and great memories.
On the final day of the workshop, we visited the Tairausioso area north of Iwaki and saw firsthand the devastating effects of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. I think we all felt the weight of it. There were monuments in
It was the first time I’d participated in such an ambitious shoot – multiple models in multiple locations, with background, changing lighting and other considerations – and it was a fantastic experience for me as a photographer.
< Shiho Mikuni poses by a pile of felled trees on a forestry
road next to Route 14: Kamiyama, Fukushima-ken. Photo: Paul Church
Day One, Location One
OUTE Twenty minutes drive from Ishikawa-machi towards Iwaki, alongside the river, the story of this workshop begins alongside Route 14.
Text by Alfie Goodrich
utting together a workshop with so many diverse elements is a joy. But it’s also fairly nerve-wracking: will timings and scheduling go to plan, will everyone get on with each other, will the models gel with the photographers, will the hotels be to everyone’s satisfaction, will anyone drop their camera in a river? Well, no one did the latter and everything else aforementioned panned-out perfectly. In the course of my work as a professional photographer - shooting everything from cars to fashion, factories to food - logistics, planning and above all pre-visualisation [the imagining of the final shot before you even get near pushing a button on the camera] are a huge part of the success of every shoot. The purpose of a workshop is to expose each student to this process. The benefits of a workshop that occurs over several days, away from home and on location in a strange place, is that it simulates very accurately the conditions of a commercial shoot: there are lists to make, gear to pack; there’s research to be done, ideas to form and a schedule to keep to. This is precicsely the broad experience I
wanted people to have on this workshop in Tohoku. From the beginning, before we set off out of Tokyo, I made sure people had something of a brief to follow and think about. There was an end product [this magazine] to produce specific shots for. We had ‘mood boards’ and maps to study. People were also going to have to work as a team. Whether all together or in smaller groups, teamwork was definitely something that was going to be important, to collaborate and help each other shoot and also to be able to see and take shots that would compliment everyone else’s when it came to producing this magazine. We started in Ishikawamachi, my wife’s hometown and somewhere I’d explored many times with and without the camera. Certain spots in the locale had always seemed, to me, to be crying out for a model to be placed in them. I was relishing the opportunity to finally do that. Being friends and as we’d collaborated on shoots before, I knew Shinyong and Shiho would trust my judgement as far as picking locations was concerned. I also had no doubts that they would
warm to the group and be able to deliver something stunning when the moment arose for them to ‘put on their game faces’ and get down to business. For all the pre-visualisation and planning, there are always moments which weren’t planned. Leaving room for that spontaneity and freeform creativity is important in any shoot. Most importantly, giving people the chance to learn and grow as photographers means exposing them to some of that sort of randomness. How one reacts to problems, how one still manages to pull the shot out of the bag when everything looks stacked against you, how one rises to meet the challenge...this is all part of what it means to be a ‘professional’. Anyone can buy an expensive camera, take passable photos with it, post them online and even publish their own work in a book. Being professional is not solely about any of those things. It’s a mindset, a set of behaviours.
Map showing Route 14, the Ishikawa-Iwaki road, with possible locations marked. Map: Google
SHIHO MIKUNI Photo : Damien Dâ€™Angelo Special thanks to Michael Martin for the Russian tankcommanderâ€™s helmet.
Shinyong Lee makes this bridge over the river her own...and has a lot of fun doing so!
Photo credits: Ron Inman [top], Henrik Jaeger [bottom left and right], Damien Dâ€™Angelo [oppostite, facing page]
Shiho Mikuni wears a Russian tank-commanderâ€™s hat, brought along by Michael Martin, and gets into character. Photo credits: Henrik Jaeger [opposite, facing page & bottom left], Paul Church [top], Ron Inman [bottom right].
< Paul Church snaps Shiho Mikuni through a gap in the other photographers.
SHIHO ON THE BRIDGE. WHERE DID SHE PARK HER TANK? Photo by Paul Church
SHINYONG WITH SOME VERY BIG PENCILS... Photo by Akiko Masuda.
SHINYONG GLAMMINGUP THE WOODPILE: Photo by Celia Rae
ON A BEND IN THE RIVER Our destination was an old dilapidated bus high up in the mountains on Route 20. On the way we found this lovely location... <
Model: Shinyong Lee | Photographer: Paul Church
USING A TELEPHOTO LENS TO COMPRESS PERSPECTIVE Photo by Damien D’Angelo
< Cover shot: Shinyongâ€™s red dress and the green of the surroundings in perfect colour contrast. The wide angle and low viewpoint really make this shot pop. Photograph by Damien Dâ€™Angelo
< Colourful dress, awesome greens of the setting. But itâ€™s always worth trying something in black and white. Great framing here too, with all the background elements controlled not to interfere with the model. Photograph by Paul Church
This location provided two great setups for the models & students: one rock in the river, one high above the river. The river position more suited to those with wide-angle lenses, 50mm or very short telephoto. The high rock giving great scope for use of longer lenses. Not just for the reach but also for the way lenses of 200 or 300mm really begin to compress perspective and make the background appear like a painted backdrop. Photographs by Paul Church [above] and Damien Dâ€™Angelo [right, facing page]
THE MOUNTAIN, THE BUS & THE KING OF GRIM Photos and text: Paul Church
What more could a man and his camera need than a trip to the picturesque mountains of the Japanese countryside with two beautiful models and more than a sensible amount of photography equipment? A precariously parked decaying old tour bus, perhaps? The bus was parked just off the road at the edge of an area that looked like it had been used at one time to store construction materials. The wet winter ground had given way and the bus was now listing towards a long drop down to the field below. The alternating extremes of the Japanese summer and winter had taken their toll on the outside of the bus with the faded paint and rusted metal
combining to create wonderful textures and patterns along the body panels. Inside, the driverâ€™s cab was given an interesting hue from a uniform covering of lichen, and what furnishings remained were covered in some vividly colored mosses. The destination cards still in their window above the windscreen hinted at the buses past life. Exploring abandoned Japan is an interesting experience. Buildings and vehicles left to the seasons take on individual characteristics that reflect where and for how long they have been left. There is a certain sadness as we realize that nature can so easily reclaim the things we work so hard to create, but it is the feeling of the loss of a part of the past that lingers longest.
Mount Bandai looms at the end of the line. Photo: Celia Rae Text by Alfie Goodrich
LAND LAKE PEAK SKIES 44_stekki
It wasnâ€™t just about pretty girls. We were here for the landscape too....
owever many pretty women you fill up a bus with, no trip into the countryside would be complete without taking some time to focus on the surroundings. And when the surroundings are as beautiful as they are around Lake Inawashiro and Mount Bandai, it would be a crime not to do them justice with the camera. In fairness, we had as many photographers interested in shooting the landscape as we did interested in shooting the pretty ladies, so some decemt landscape pictures were always on the cards. Mount Bandai is one of Tohoku’s landscape treasures. Its sharp peak and imposing size dominates the skyline and when travelling towards Koriyama from the east, as we did, provides a spectacular backdrop to the city. There are many lakes in the region. The largest, Inawashiro, is the fourth largest lake in Japan and home to migrating swans through to the spring. Many of the smaller lakes in the region are testament to the violent - recent past of Mount Bandai: in a major eruption on July 15, 1888 the north-
ern and eastern parts of the caldera collapsed in a massive landslide, forming two lakes, Hibara-ko and Onogawa-ko, as well as several minor lakes called Goshiki-numa, or the ‘Five Coloured Lakes’. The lake district formed by this cataclysm became known variously as Urabandai or Bandaikōgen, and has become a tourist destination. This last eruption was particularly tremendous and completely reshaped its vicinity. All the surrounding villages were destroyed, killing 461 people and burning another 70. Volcanic debris blocking nearby rivers created lakes and ponds. The area is popular throughout the year. Skiing dominates the winter, boating and sight-seeing the warmer months. But, no season is a bad season to visit Bandai and its charms are made very obvious by the wonderful set of photos that follow....
The shape of the disused buildings creates the perfect frame from the tree by the lake. Photo by Akiko Masuda
Lake Inawashiro and the beach at Minamihama. Photo: Ron Inman
Waiting for the warmer weather Photos by Akiko Masuda
Mount Bandai beautifully framed with the crashing surf & coastal defences of Konanmachi Beach Photo by Damien Dâ€™Angelo
A group of us awoke before dawn to go out and photograph the sunrise. There are many beautoful spots around the lake but it was important to find one that faced in the right direction, obviously, and that had some interest. Here at these two nearby locations we had hills through which the sun peeked as it rose [right] and lovely foreground detail with the single tree and rock [above]. Each serves to focus attention, help framing and provide interesting textures to silhouette-out. Photographs by Akiko Masuda [above] and Paul Church [right, facing page]
Using a wide lens and a low viewpoint captures the true expanse of the scene and by including more of the foreshore rocks in this composition, Damien has created a balanced top and bottom to the frame. A ‘big-stopper’ neutral-density [ND] filter makes a very long exposure possible, creating the smooth water and clouds. Photo by Damien D’Angelo
A palette of blues: cooler white-balance helps to create this predominantly blue landscape. The boats and buoys provide just the right amount of extra colour, brightness and detail to this otherwise very minimalist scene shot by Paul Church.
Damien D’Angelo uses the ‘big-stopper’ ND filter here again to great effect. Special effects, filters, gimmicks: they are all great but good framing, composition and viewpoint are always key to making an eye-catching photo. Here, the low angle and careful attention to spacing between the top of the boats and the distant mountains have made the difference between a good picture and a ‘great’ one.
Minamiham With its long sweep of beach, haikyo [abandoned buildings] and wonderful views, Minamihama makes a great location....
reezing cold and standing barefoot on a lakeside beach high up in the mountains.... in April. In a force six gale. Not every model’s idea of ‘living the dream’ but Shiho and Shinyong [especially Shinyong] are used to me putting them in these situations in the name of ‘art’. Anyway, secretly I know they love it.... But if you are going to subject your models to this sort of abuse, make sure you have a plan for surviving it. In this case, a warm van with the engine running to keep it so; food, drink, chocolate [obviously], blankets, coats... and clear instructions of what’s going to happen, where, when, with which photographers and for how long. Such was the ‘plan’ we had for the wonderful location of Minamihama beach, where you’ll not only find a long stretch of sand with the mountains in the background. But, where there is a ‘strip’ of old, abandoned, flaky buildings just begging to be in the shot as well.
Minamihama is one of those places that the main road went around instead of through. The old road is still there and provides a place to oull off, park up and get an ice-cream in the season. Out of that season there really isn’t much to do except take in the scenery. We arrived out of season. Luckily, ‘taking in the scenery’ is pretty much exactly the reason we were there. That and adding to the scenery with our two lovely models, of course. Having sent the photographers out to do a recconaissance of the area - to find spots they fancied shooting in - we took the models out and one by one did a series of cuts with each model in turn. I’m not a huge fan of having eight photographers shoot one model but it was the best way of keeping one girl warm whilst shooting in short bursts with the other. Then we swapped model, chose a slightly different part of the nearby area and shot another cut. It worked pretty well. Everyone managed to get something of what they’d scouted out earlier and it
kept people from getting too freezing cold. That was, until, I had the bright idea of putting Shiho out on one of the pontoons that is used for launching the boats during the warmer seasons. It’s a shot I had in my head the minute I planned the workshop: girl in big floaty dress, out on the lake, wind blowing etc, etc, etc. Which meant I had to have it before we left the location. First we asked one of the locals [a few of whom had started to congregate near us, curious about what we were doing] if it would be ok for Shiho to go out onto the pontoon. The old lady said sure, no problem but for us to make sure Shiho was safe. The shot turned out great. Everyone got a different angle and then we moved around the lake to another great spot to get the rest of our shots, a selection of which you see here - from Minamihama and from the second locations around Konanmachi. When we got to Konanmachi, it was time to get out some lights
and we worked on a simple bare flash setup [bare because getting modifiers like umbrellas and softboxes to stand up in strong wind is kind of futile] to light Shiho and Shinyong up whilst keeping all the drama of the backlight and the sun on the lake. This took three SB800 flashes set to full-power and mounted on a tripleflash bracket, fired with Yongnuo remote triggers. That way we were able to get enough power to get a decent exposure for the background and light up the model.
Battling the wind and the fact that the pontoon was bobbing around fairly vigorously, Celia Rae pulls of a lovely shot of Shiho.
Off-camera strobe was thrown into the mix here, to light up Shiho against the strong backlight. Photo by Celia Rae
Henrik Jaeger’s longdistance shot shows the drama in the setting. Prior communication with Shiho was essential: at this distance she wouldn’t hear the photographer’s instructions
Paul Church in his comfort-zone of monochrome once again, captures this lovely shot of Shinyong on a bench by the lake. Comfort-zone or not, with the colour of Shinyongâ€™s dress, her dark hair and the tones of the background and trees, monochrome was the way to go for creating a photograph with as delicate and contemplative mood as this has.
Damien Dâ€™Angelo opting for a very symmetrical pose, to make best use of the shape of the background elements.
Ron Inman uses an oblique angle here to pull in more detail of the building and background. Part of the workshop was to understand how each studentâ€™s photos would work in conjunction with others on the page. These two shots demonstrate that perfectly. stekki_69
The drama, the texture, the monochrome: it can only be Paul Church!
Henrik Jaeger finds a nice viewpoint for this shot of Shiho, electing to get high and shoot through the branches of the trees. Use of a large aperture reduces the foreground details to bokeh and creates a nice frame for the model.
Celia Rae choosing to use the tree to frame the model in another way. Her viewpoint bringing the depth of the scene and background landscape into the shot.
Paul Churchâ€™s interpretation of this same scene works well with all the horizontal and vertical lines of the trees, benches, mountains and boats. Black and white here, again, creates a drama of its own and really helps concentrate the eye on Shihoâ€™s white dress. stekki_75
Photos by Henrik Jaeger [this page] and Ron Inman [opposite] show how well, by this stage of the workshop, each photographer was thinking about how photos would have to work together on the page. The outof-focus shot is the perfect partner for Ronâ€™s shot of Shinyong.
This location surprised everyone when I took them there: ‘It’s just a bunch of trees’, was the comment from one person. But, with me leading the charge and showing how some creative thinking about using the trees could be done, everyone was soon getting some great shots. Paul Church, here, using to perfect effect the tree on the left to create a frame and some negative space.
Alfieâ€™s daughter, Ami, stands on the beach at Taira in March during the research trip before the workshop. Photo by Alfie Goodrich
MOMENTS OF REFLECTION Our visit to tsunami-devastated towns of Shioba & Tairausuioso Photos by Paul Church & Alfie Goodrich Text by Alfie Goodrich
ntil you have witnessed the total devastation that Mother Nature can wreak upon somewhere, it never truly sinks in as to how total it can be. I first visited the Fukushima coast back in 2000 and 2001. It was an area I came to love very much and over the years I spent many happy hours driving from my wife’s hometown of Ishikawa and touring around the coast north of Iwaki. Visiting it in the summer of 2011 was heart-breaking. There’s a gap in between two large rocks that forms a passage for the road down into the village of Tairausuiso. It was through that gap that I first witnessed the aftermath of the 3/11 tsunami. No longer was the town laid out before me, rather it was all pushed up one end of the bay as if some giant hand had come down and scraped everything
from north to south. Lots of people died. The last time I’d seen the place it had been a vibrant, busy, pretty little seaside town. Now it’s a graveyard. Since 3/11 I have been back five or six times. My pictures in the series that follow are from the trip I did with my daughter in March/April of this year, when we were joined by a film-crew from NHK television. Visiting here doesn’t really get any easier. Sure, it’s great to see a few visitors and some surfers returning. But you wouldn’t get me in the sea even this far away[about 40km] from Dai Ichi nuclear power station and that nuclear issue is what, in all honesty, makes the whole thing so weird and so upsetting for me; because you can see what the tsunami did here, you can’t see radia-
tion. When I come here it’s with a geiger-counter. The airborne radiation is about double what you’d get in Shinjuku, in the centre of Tokyo. I haven’t taken samples from the sea or sand. I’m happy to walk on the beach. My daughter, who you see in the photo opposite, wears gloves and stays off the beach. Quite a change from how we used to enjoy this place. Bringing the workshop here was hard on everyone. People cried. I cried. But it was worth it. For some it was their first experience of areas effected by the tsunami. Not everyone took photos. Some just walked and explored, stood and tried to take it all in. Which, frankly, is hard enough in itself....
Photo by Paul Church
Photo by Alfie Goodrich
Photo by Alfie Goodrich 86_stekki
Photo by Alfie Goodrich
Photo by Paul Church
Photo by Paul Church
Photo by Paul Church
Photo by Alfie Goodrich
PARTING SHOT The beauty of this man-made construction was clearly very different from everything else we were photographing on the workshop. The photographer explains why he took the shot.... Photo & text: Paul Church
e had travelled the 300 miles from Tokyo to Tohoku on the expressway, but once it could take us no further, we had to take the winding, undulating country roads that cross the many mountains of the Japanese countryside. The plan was to work our way from location to location shooting as we go, and then on the last day visit Sendai, the area affected most by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. We had been driving for a while as we turned through the sun and entered a long snow shed that wound its way around the mountain. As we drove on, the setting sun started to shine through the arches and project long, thin shadows across the road ahead and up the opposite wall,
while accenting the textures of the concrete and tarmac. The whole tunnel was filled with the orange glow of the sun, and as we turned the corner, through the arches dead ahead, we caught a glimpse of the last of the dayâ€™s blue sky. There were still many miles of adventure ahead, but the camera was ready to go.
素敵 すてき su-te-ki /ste ki/
adjective: beautiful, great, lovely, splendid, wonderful, nice
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