Friday, April 27, 2012

IBASYO: Self-Injury Among Japanese Women

Several years ago it seemed as though wrist cutting was featured in the Japanese media quite a lot. I even had a (male) friend who was doing it. Today my colleague (thanks, EK!) sent me a link to a recent article and YouTube video about the photo project on wrist cutting by Kosuke Okahara.

In Japan, Suffer the Children

“She just took the razor and then she started cutting in front of me.”

That was how the photographer Kosuke Okahara began a six-year connection with several young Japanese women who regularly harmed themselves through cutting, making thin, repetitive slashes on their wrists, forearms and thighs. 

The theme of his photographs, assembled in a compelling new video presentation by the Asia Society, is called Ibasyo, which Mr. Okahara says means inner peace or “a place where one can feel.” His poignant pictures are all the more remarkable for their rare penetration of Japan’s famously closed-off society and what he calls “our culture of shame.”

Link to the complete story:

I am not so sure if hikikomori should have been so easily associated with wrist cutting in the article. Or the idea that males do the former and females do the latter. But we are more interested in the work of Okahara. In the video Okahara brings up several interesting points about ethics and the place of the photographer in such a project - these kinds of considerations should be familiar to visual anthropologists.


Link to Okahara's webpage:

Wrist cutting certainly isn't unique to Japan. But here are a couple of links about the research of the problem in Japan:

Study probes teens' wrist-cutting:

Patterns of self-cutting: a preliminary study on differences in clinical implications between wrist- and arm-cutting using a Japanese juvenile detention center sample:

Finally, here's a link to a bizarre YouTube clip from the movie, Tokyo Gore Police. This is not a real commercial or product, although several blogs present it as such (more weird Japan...). Whatever it is, it is very disturbing. 


Ariel P said...

Interesting, but the subject is fairly dark. I wonder what conclusions the photographer got after spending so much time with these people, or what he means by "got better".

Terence said...

Very interesting and lovely post.