Casper Kent spent a year photographing his friend in Japanese ryokans and love hotels for his new book 'Sakura Lust.'

Over the course of a year, Casper Kent photographed in Japanese ryokans and old-style love hotels. The photographs explore ephemerality, intimacy, and self-possession, driving always toward a dreamy escapism. His new book, Sakura Lust, releasing May 15, is the culmination of these months of collaboration with a close friend, informed heavily by the momentary nature of the image. “Ryokans and old-style love hotels are the perfect settings for creating escapism, Kent said of the work. “They have an ethereal and truly isolated quality which give opportunity to step into a slightly different world,”

Kent’s subjects are always people he’s close to. “The photographs are by-products of 3am conversations and time together,” he says, championing organic bonds over voyeuristic one-off meetings.  “We were meeting to hang out and shoot every other month in Japan and Europe from Spring to Autumn,” he says of the Sakura Lust project. “That’s an intensity that can’t be maintained forever, so each shoot started to feel like another petal of a cherry blossom falling from the tree. We wanted to enjoy it while we could, focus on the now and not the end product, that’s how the parallels with hanami started to emerge.”

The practice of hanami, an appreciation of the transient beauty of flower blossoms, infuses the photographs with a heightened awareness and appreciation for everyday wonder and brings delicacy to the carnal. Kent finds this Japanese appreciation for nature unfortunately absent from most western cultures. “Sadly, I think it’s an attitude that’s missing in the UK—we’re too cynical.  It’s just about having a heightened awareness and appreciation of the wonder and beauty around us, taking time to enjoy the transient nature of blossom and recognising how that’s symbolic of our own lives. Japan has managed to marry tradition, nature and modern life perfectly and I think that’s something we can all learn from.”

Sakura Lust is available online through Kawako Press.  Find Casper Kent at and on Instagram @casperkenty.

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