About this project
Update Sept 23
We broke $50,000 and so we're going to get Dan out to Tokyo so we can both sign the books!
We've also upgraded the cloth, binding, and paper of the books. They're even better than they were before. Can't wait to get these into your hands.
(Just a reminder: We're selling the hardcover books here $20 cheaper than that for which they will retail.)
Dan and I thank you for all your support as we enter the last stretch!
Update Sept 12
GOAL! We hit our $30k goal in just two and a half days! THANK YOU to all who contributed.
We're now trying to stretch to $50k in an effort to lock in a few extra printing details and some other forthcoming announcements. Thanks for your support!
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In March of this year, Dan Rubin and I went on a walk. The walk was along Japan's 1,000+ year old Kumano Kodo pilgrimage path.
From that walk, we made one copy of a book of photographs called Koya Bound.
Together, with your help, we’d like to make/do a whole lot more, including:
1. A 1,000 COPY LIMITED EDITION OF KOYA BOUND
The 1,000 copy edition of the book will be offset printed and bound in Japan on archival Japanese paper.
- Koya Bound is bound in linen that feels soft in the hand, and the images are printed on thick archival papers that feel rough in a satisfying way.
- The cover and spine will be debossed with the title.
- The trim size is 13" x 11", so it's pretty big. It opens nice and wide.
- The book is 84 pages long.
- It also includes a topographic map of our walking route.
- Koya Bound is a book of photographs from the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage walk in Japan.
- It's a book of photographs about mountain time, and towering cedar time, and crumpled earth time, and ancient teahouse time.
- It's a book of photographs about where the mind wanders when disconnected.
- But, really, it's a book of photographs about adventures and curiosities often nearer to you than you may realize.
Once our funding goal is met, we'll start printing.
Retail for Koya Bound will be $95.00 USD. Kickstarter backers get a 20% discount at $75.00 USD.
Koya Bound will ship by December.
2. LIMITED EDITION PRINTS
We’re also offering a limited edition set of prints. Artifact Uprising is our printing partner.
The photographs are printed on matte 8”x10” ultra thick Mohawk Superfine Eggshell, 68pt boards, and look and feel great. They can be framed or stand on their own.
On the walk, Dan shot in color using the Leica Q at 28mm, and I shot in black and white on the Leica M Monochrom at 50mm.
The set of prints offered here will be limited to an edition of 150 sets.
3. SPECIAL EDITION SET(S)
We're printing 10 special editions of Koya Bound in red linen.
This set will ship with:
- one standard grey linen Koya Bound hardcover book
- one special edition red linen Koya Bound hardcover book
- one set of the two limited edition prints
We have two Special Edition tiers:
The first tier (limited to 6 backers) includes a copy of Leica's incredible Eyes Wide Open: 100 Years of Leica Photography, hardcover book.
The book contains 100 years of the most seminal Leica photographs plus:
"Essays by international authors examine topics including the technical genesis of the Leica, its influence on photojournalism, and its significance for a wide variety of avant-garde currents in art photography. Heretofore unpublished documents from the archives of the Leica Camera AG round off this multifaceted 100-year cultural chronicle."
The second tier ("Super Special Special Edition Set") (limited to 4 backers) includes everything in the Special Edition set plus a gorgeous ONA "Bowery for Leica" bag. ONA describes the bag thusly:
"The Bowery for Leica features full-grain Italian leather, solid brass hardware, as well as a custom interior and exterior accents in Leica's signature red. Featuring five exterior pockets for personal items and an interior padded with closed-cell foam, this special edition bag can carry one Leica camera as well as one or two extra lenses. Thanks to a detachable shoulder strap, the Bowery for Leica can be used as a stand-alone camera bag or as an insert to protect your Leica gear in a larger bag."
4. A WEBSITE
Dan and I have also been working on a comprehensive companion website to the book and walk. (You can think of this as the “digital book.") The site chronicles the walk day by day, mapping over 150 other photographs (most not found in the print edition) using GPS to our precise path, and sharing walking data and links to lodges for those who would like to use our route as a starting point for their own trip.
This website will be a free resource for all.
5. A WORLD TOUR
Once Koya Bound is fully funded, we’ll take the book on the road to Leica stores around the world. The tour is tentatively scheduled for early 2017 (March), and will include free-to-attend lectures as well as workshops.
The lectures will dive into detail about the walk and the process of producing and shooting Koya Bound using Leica equipment. We’re hammering out exact dates and cities in the coming months, but if we're in your town, we hope to see you there!
WHO ARE YOU GUYS?
Dan Rubin is an award winning photographer and designer who frequently leads photography workshops around the world (most recently in the Faroe Islands), has worked with American Express, Ducati, Google, Land Rover, RedBull (and many more), and was once Creative Director for MOO.COM, among other Google-able things. You can view his recent photographic work on instagram.com/danrubin.
Craig Mod (me!) is a writer and photographer and award winning book designer who has produced over a dozen cloth-bound, silk-screened, foil-stamped books of all types, mostly in Japan. I also have a long history with Kickstarter. In fact, I ran one of the earliest successful book campaigns on Kickstarter six and a half years ago. You can read about that on my website. I'm also on Instagram: instagram.com/craigmod.
ABOUT THE WALK
The Kumano Kodo is only one of two UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage walks. (The other World Heritage pilgrimage walk is the Camino de Santiago in Spain.)
Dan and I (and another friend, Matt) began walking from a town in Wakayama Prefecture called Takijiri, traveling along what is called the “naka hechi” route. We then turned north to follow the “ko hechi” route to the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism: Mt. Koya.
(That's why the book is called Koya Bound.)
It took eight days. We walked about 107 km.
Not too long, but long enough. Not too far, but far enough.
Koya Bound is an artifact from this long, quiet walk in the woods.
It shows you snippets of where we went and what it felt like, but doesn't tell you (exactly) how to get there.
You can think of it as a sequence of visual hints. It says: There is a place in the world that looks and feels like this. Given a little gumption, similar places can probably be found near wherever you may be.
We believe that a good walk begins with a clear goal — a mountaintop, a far-off village, a superb pizza shack in the middle of the woods — but that a great walk is born out of a bit of circuity and a little uncertainty.
As we walked, we shot three thousand photographs using a Leica Q and a Leica M Monochrom.
We used these cameras because we love them. They are remarkable tools, but also feel like good friends.
After completing the walk, Dan and I hid in an old Japanese house in the middle of the Gifu Prefecture for a week.
We subsided mainly on rice crackers.
And burned liters of kerosene each day trying to stay warm.
It was great.
We used a cheap Brother laser printer to print out hundreds of our photographs. We covered the floors in them.
I don't believe you can understand a book until you've printed it out and put it on the floor.
We walked all over the images, moved them around, and lived atop them for days. Finally, we edited them down to the fifty-seven that best told the story we wanted to tell.
My interest in Japanese pilgrimage walks (and more generally, walks in Japan) began three years ago. I've now done about twelve such walks, and have spent nearly six months in total up in the mountains.
My time in Tokyo spans nearly fifteen years. I've gone on the occasional countryside trip (for example, when I was twenty I hitchhiked across the country for a month — an adventure chockablock with generous people and a little too much alcohol; stories for another day), but had never connected with (nor had I been really aware of!) the historical paths criss-crossing the archipelago. It wasn't until 2013, when John McBride — Japan scholar, art historian, and walking guru — invited me on my first walk, that I realized there existed just a train ride away a universe I had long ignored.
Since then I've scheduled at least one decent sized walk every six months (the next one is at the end of this October), and I usually cap off the end of each year with a smaller New Year's walk.
These walks have served as a way for me to invite to Japan people whose work or life inspires me, to spend a few days or weeks together, to get off the grid, and slow down in the old forests.
There's a special rhythm to walking in Japan, made possible in part by the vast transportation infrastructure and ecosystem of lodgings and hot springs. The day unfolds: You wake at dawn, eat a big breakfast, take some rice balls from the inn for the road, and then you spend the next eight to ten hours in the woods, cresting mountain passes, tip-toeing around snakes, singing away bears, finally arriving at your next inn or hut or home or hot spring. You bathe your weary bones in scalding hot water, eat a generous dinner, and then slip into futons by 8 p.m. It's a damn fine way to walk the world with good friends. And the kind of schedule that permits a type of chatter not present in the everyday day-to-day.
Dan Rubin and I had been trying to make a book together for almost five years. Finally, this past March, our timing aligned and we were able to head out on our Kumano Kodo walk. We didn't quite know what the shape of the final book would be, but we knew the walk was special, and that somewhere in the jumble of our images was a good story, or a good sequence, that both helped us remember those rhythms of a walking life, and would (we hope) inspire others to seek out similar adventures.
Thanks for your support. We look forward to sharing this little adventure with you.
— Craig & Dan
ThanksFor helping us get this project this far, many thanks to the following people: John McBride, Akiko Moriguchi, Chiaki Hayashi, Matt Jacobson, Chris Cox, David Cady, Derek Baines, Matt Mullenweg, Om Malik, Kevin Kelly, Jason Kottke, Frank Chimero, John Pull, Gail & George Musgrave, Laura Schmalstieg, Bryan Mochizuki, Chris Palmieri, Ashley Rawlings, Brie the Dog, Tanabe City, Victoria Wright.The audio track for our video was recorded at Sweetwater Studios by Mark Hornsby (recording engineer) and Nick D'Virgilio (drums). We dig it!
(Japan Times looked great in print:)
- Spoon & Tamago: A Photobook Documenting a 1,000 Year Old Pilgrimage Walk
- Kottke: Koya Bound, beautiful photographs from Japanese pilgrimage path
- Dan and I were interviewed by The Japan Times.
Risks and challenges
Minimal risk. (There is always risk, no matter how unrisky something may seem.) The book is done. The prints have been tested. I've made a dozen other books so theoretically I know (sort of) what I'm doing.
Once the Kickstarter completes, the books will begin immediate printing, we'll do press checks and start shipping as soon as they're bound. We expect the books to be delivered by end of November / beginning of December. We think they're going to make wonderful year-end gifts.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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