Lake Biwa is the biggest lake in Japan and one of the oldest lakes in the world, located about 20 km east of Kyoto, the Japanese old capital. The lake has been deeply related to our daily lives for a longtime. It is a reservoir for more than fourteen million people and we are very conscious of keeping it clean even though industries always threaten its natural gifts like fish, reeds and trees.
I myself, born in Kyoto, have been growing up with water of Lake Biwa. When we think that two-thirds of the human body are made of liquid, it is true that my body is made by Lake Biwa, really MOTHER LAKE for me.
My deep respect and thanks to Lake Biwa penetrate in the pictures. Behind these calm landscapes, I hope that you will find our wisdom and efforts to keep the lake, as it was millions years ago.
COFESSIONS OF MASKS
Behind the economic success of Japan, there are forgotten people who have been left in mental hospitals. In Japan, more than 200,000 mentally handicapped are still hospitalized even today, some of them have lived there for more than forty years. Their parents cannot support them because they are too old or they are dead. Developments of psychopharmacology can reduce their symptoms but they can hardly help them to leave hospital.
The pictures were taken in 1997 in a mental hospital in Japan. Their daily lives were going on quietly in the hospital. I took their photographs in many aspects for years and they were pleased to have their photographs taken. I hear that most of them are still in the same hospital even today, more than ten years after I took these photographs.
Here I cannot show you their faces to protect their rights. Their existences are hidden from surfaces of our societies and their masks reveal to you their difficulties. Please listen to the voices under their masks.
SORROW IN THE TROPICS
The Natural History Museum Of Paris owns the world’s largest collection of zoological specimens and many of them are well displayed for visitors. We can see all kinds of zoological specimens, especially those from regions once colonized by European countries. A famous French anthropologist published a book called ‘ tristes tropiques’ in which he observed sorrow in the tropics. But in these photographs you could notice ‘tristes tropiques’ really exist in Paris.
The Metro in Paris is a theater. We can see musicians and performers but ordinary people around the world play dramas there. They have never bored me and my camera captured the atmosphere floating there.
PEN is the name of a half-size film camera once manufactured by OLYMPUS. It was my first camera I got when I was a ten-year-old boy. More than twenty five years later, I ran into a PEN in a secondhand market. The camera reminded me of happy days in my childhood and I began to trace them with my PEN.
FROZEN SCAPE OF IRELAND
Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle because the North AtlanticCurrent gives it mild weather even in winter. I happened to travel to Ireland in an exceptionally cold winter with snowfall and it was hard driving without winter equipment such as snow tires. In such conditions, I could find tranquility that had been lasting since the mythic days.
This series was inspired by Haruki Murakami's novel 1Q84. In the novel, Tengo was waiting for Aomame on a slide in a deserted playground during the night. I happened to come across the same scene when I walked around a playground nearby with my dog. There was no one but us and a slide, seesaw and swing reflecting light from a mercury lamp in silent darkness.
His novels always contain some kind of fantasy such as two moons in which we might lose the borderline between reality and unreality. In the deserted playground, somehow I felt strange air although there was only one moon. Playgrounds can be found everywhere in our country and I thought they were too common to be a theme for my work. But after this experience, I began to take pictures of playgrounds in my city.
I think Haruki Murakami’s world is so complicated that I can hardly express it in photography but I hope you will find unreality in realty in these pictures of playgrounds.