Shirley Cai and Emmie Rae have what they call “soul homes”. They both feel a deep connection to another city in the world. For Cai it’s San Francisco, Rae’s is Osaka.
Cai, a Broadsheet photographer, and Rae, a yoga teacher and writer, have created Safe Place, a book of images of Tokyo with poems alongside them. Cai and Rae wanted to create a physical "safe place" in the form of a book inspired by, “Our mutual desire to created something special and timeless,” says Cai. It is a loving ode to travel, and the joy of discovery that comes with being in a new city.
They chose Tokyo because it’s a place that feels safe to them. The details the Japanese put into their every day routine appealed – they wanted to capture the quiet, beautiful part of Japan that was often overlooked.
The decision to create the book came from a desire to go home to what they call their “second homes”, and “To create something people could carry with them, to share with their loved ones,” says Cai, who took all the photographs for the book.
The reader’s journey through the book – inspired by traditional Japanese books that read right to left – can start at either the front, with Cai’s story, or at the back, with Rae’s, and end, in your very own “safe place”. “We crafted the book in a way that mimicked the journey that you take when you travel,” says Cai. “We didn't want to dictate where the start would be and where the end would be because everyone travels in a different way.”
The book is small, but beautifully presented, with exquisite photos and haiku-like poems printed on a crisp, white backdrop. One of Cai’s photos is delicately placed on each page, with a stanza of Rae’s poetry floating alongside; the words transporting you to a foreign place as you turn the pages.