Thursday, August 2, 2018

"A Japanese Photographer’s View of Life in His Family’s One-Room Home"

Image and text borrowed from The New Yorker, 6/9/18.

Thanks to GW via EASIANTH for the heads-up on this great piece.

The Yamamoto family values were forged in small spaces,” the Japanese photographer Masaki Yamamoto told me recently. For eighteen years, his family of seven coexisted in a one-room apartment in Kobe. His father drove trucks, and his mother worked as a cashier in a supermarket. They and their five children all slept in the same space, a room the size of six tatami mats, limbs overlapping amid a pile of ever-multiplying junk. When you looked up, you couldn’t avoid meeting the eyes of someone else, Yamamoto, the second-oldest of his siblings, said, adding, “The one place you could be alone was the bathtub.” “Guts,” his new photography book, is a celebration of his family’s everyday existence in these close quarters.

In the West, Japan is often characterized as an island of loneliness—of family-renting industries, of sexless youth, of the unwanted elderly shoplifting out of a longing for the social comforts of prison. At first glance, Yamamoto’s photographs might seem to provide further evidence of a claustrophobic solitude. In one image, his sister sits in the bathtub, her thin knees folded close to her chest, a Rodin immersed in a tiny tub filled with milky water. It is a sombre scene, until we read the caption and find that she had jokingly drawn her knees up so that she would look like she had huge breasts.

Read more and see more of Yamamoto's photos.


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