Uzbekistan gets a bad rap for its repressive government and dysfunctional economy. But the landscape can still take one’s breath away, as Japanese photographer Ikuru Kuwajima found during his first visit to the Central Asian nation.
Kuwajima, who lives in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is no stranger to Central Asia. But his recent trip to Uzbekistan turned many of his expectations on their head. Some of his impressions about the trip follow:
“I traveled to Uzbekistan for the first time this spring. Starting in the country’s west, in Karakalpakstan, I spent 10 days traveling east, overland with public transportation, randomly photographing people and landscapes.
“Karakalpakstan is home to minority Karakalpaks, who resemble ethnic Kazakhs in appearance and have a closely related language. Located on the dry steppe, the autonomous republic is considered the poorest part of the country and sends a lot of young people to Kazakhstan and Russia as migrant workers.
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Ikuru Kuwajima is a freelance photojournalist based in Almaty.