Kikuchi Valley in Kumamoto Prefecture has been closed for the past 2 years after the Kumamto earthquake struck the region. But city officials, deeming it was now safe, reopened the valley earlier this year. One very early morning in July, before the sun rose, a group of photographers parked their cars along route 45 and headed off on foot guided only by the moonlight. About 20 minutes later they arrived at the perfect spot along the river where they set up camera and awaited dawn.

photographs by Masaki Furumaya, courtesy Sankei Photo

During the months of June and August, fog rises around watery areas and Kikuchi Valley happens to be an ideal spot for photographers hoping to capture the elusive mist, combined with the divine beams of light, known as kobo (光芒) in Japanese.

The remains of landslides caused from the earthquake still remain. Large boulders can be spotted here and there, along with trees that they ripped out as they fell into the valley. But moss and ferns have begun to cover them as they settle in to their new home.