Koya Bound (Eight days on the Kumano Kodo) – Craig Mod & Dan Rubin
Chosen by Mark A

“Koya-san — home to esoteric Buddhism — is the name of a sacred basin eight hundred meters high and surrounded by eight mountains. It is roughly one hundred kilometers of trails north from the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine in Wakayama, Japan. Though the name of the basin is often incorrectly translated as Mt. Koya in English, Mt. Koya is only one of the eight peaks, and is remote from the central cluster of temples.

We walked towards Koya-san, but we did not touch Mt. Koya.”


For eight days in early 2016, Dan Rubin and Craig Mod banded together to walk along the Kumano Kodo, a thousand-year old pilgrimage route in Wakayama prefecture, Japan. Beginning walking at Takikiri on the Nakahechi route, switching to the Kohechi route and ending at Koya-san.

As a follower of Dan Rubin’s photographic work for a number of years I instantly threw my PayPal details at Kickstarter when I saw he was producing a book based upon his photographic journey in Japan with fellow travelling companion, designer and photographer Craig Mod. Bundled together with one of my number one travel destinations, Japan, this purchase didn’t need a second thought.

The book itself is a timeline capturing the unique landscape, the lost villages, the mountains, the people of this ancient trail. An adventure with over 3000 photographs shot throughout with only 57 making it into the book – 57 photographs telling a unique story. Shot entirely with two Leica cameras, the Leica Q and the Leica M Monochrom, simply because “They are remarkable tools, but also feel like good friends.” And using a cheap printer, laying out the prints over the worn tatami flooring in an old Japanese house, they spent 6 days fine tuning, curating and living among the photographs to create the final book.

The result is a cloth bound oversized photo journal, limited to only 1000 copies, shot, edited, designed, printed, produced, hand-made and sent from Japan. The book now is sold out, but I would highly recommend reading more about the book, experiencing some of the photographs and following the journey on their website put together for the book. The final photographs tell so much more about the awe inspiring journey and the beautiful book itself than I could…



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