Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 秋祭り(Fall Festival)

Autumn has finally arrived with lower temperatures, the smell of burning leaves and the sounds of local fall festivals. Two years ago I had the opportunity to follow the danjiri/cart around in my neighborhood fall festival and take photos. Since then I have participated in more community events and met some of my neighbors. This year I followed the danjiri around for most of the two days as it went around to bestow blessings on the neighborhood. It was definitely an event to bring the community together. I feel since I am getting to know these people and the nature of the event better, my photos this time around are more personal. What do you think? These are some of my favorite shots. You can click on the links below to see more photos from both days.


Click here for Day 1 photos.

Click here for Day 2 photos.

Click here for 2010 photos.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Visual Fun: Young Rival's "Two Reasons"

I came across this wonderfully visual and fun video by the band Young Rival - perfect timing as we deal with midterm exams, projects, grant proposals, upcoming conferences, etc. There's a little Japan influence in the video as well...  Enjoy!

Story behind the video (info from the YouTube video site):

The band discovered the blog of Michigan artist James Kuhn via reddit in the Fall of 2011. They e-mailed him to ask if he'd be willing to collaborate on a music video, and he said yes.

The band was physically mailed CDs over the few months that contained 25 videos of lip-synched performances by Kuhn, which they edited into the final video.

"Two Reasons" is a track from Young Rival's new album, due out October 23 2012. Big thanks to James for his time, talent, and energy.

Young Rival Homepage:

James Kuhn's Flickr page:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another feel good story about hearing aids (with apologies for having to deal with the commercial before getting to feature)...

Making a difference...
Special... Legally deaf since birth...
Hearing impaired...
Kinda like a new shoe...
Louder... Annoying... Overwhelming...
800,000 people...
Out of the darkness... Come alive...

Sarcasm aside, this story shows the diversity of deafness. We can be happy for the people who want to be helped in this fashion. But we need to be weary of this representation that smacks of the deficit model of deafness.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Documentary profiles children in post-March 11 Japan"

Photo and text borrowed from Japan Today, 10/10/12.

Communities in northeastern Japan are still struggling to come to terms with last year’s compound disasters. But what about the children of the region? Are they able to move on and look ahead to the future? That is the question behind the upcoming short documentary “Kore Kara” (meaning “from now on” in Japanese). 

The 30-minute film brings together profiles of children and teens living in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the many areas that were hit hard by the March 11 tsunami. 

“Originally, the purpose of the film was to point out the necessity for more attention to children’s needs and counseling following a natural disaster,” says Tokyo-based journalist Kevin Mcgue, who is producing the film. “But after meeting some kids in the affected areas, we discovered they have a powerful message to share not only with other children in Japan, but with the world.”

The focus of the documentary changed to a more positive stance. Rather than having the children recount their traumatic experiences of March 11, 2011, the filmmakers asked them to talk about their hopes and dreams for the future. 

“Meeting these brave kids was an eye opener,” says director Ivy Oldford. “Most of the responses we got from them were different from what I expected—in a good way.” Having survived the disaster, many of the children express wishes to become nurses or rescue workers in order to help others.

Despite living in an area that is still rebuilding more than a year after the devastating tsunami, the children featured in the film urge a positive attitude. “I want people to treasure each day,” says a high school student in the film. “People want to put things off until tomorrow, but for some people ‘tomorrow’ didn’t come because of the natural disaster. So you have to value today.”

The filmmakers plan to make the documentary available with multilingual subtitles to schools both in Japan and around the world. They hope teachers can share with their students the powerful message that even the youngest members of society can overcome a natural disaster and see beyond to the bright future they create for themselves.

The filmmakers also plan to hold screenings in affected areas in Tohoku and in Tokyo. They are raising funds to cover costs relating to holding screenings and making DVDs and teacher guides at

Screenings are planned for Tokyo in December and January. Screening dates will be posted on the Facebook page as they are set. For more information on the documentary, visit


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Announcement from H-Japan:

Since 2005, Close-Up has established itself as a unique film resource. Our guiding principle is to provide access for everyone to film culture and history through our library, film screenings and publication of Vertigo magazine.

Our catalogue of over 17,000 films and books is unrivalled and our regular screenings are renowned for supporting and developing the exhibition of independent and experimental cinema in London. Close-Up wholly incorporates the prestigious film journal Vertigo, the archive of which has been fully revised and made completely available for free online.

Our new project is the creation of an independent cinema in the East End of London. The programme will consist of repertory cinema and the presentation of radical new artists' films and videos. We have recently secured a venue and the cinema is planned to open in Autumn 2013.

Run on a non-profit basis the company reinvests all its revenue to maintain the continuing growth of this invaluable film resource. In the current economic climate your contribution is essential in enabling us to continue this work. It will help us to continue to build the catalogue of our extensive library, further publication of Vertigo Magazine and with the future development of our new cinema.

Close-Up web site:

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Film shows family torn by N Korea-Japan relocation program "

From Japan Today, 10/7/12:

Korean-Japanese filmmaker Yang Yonghi says she leaned on her own personal history and similar stories from her pro-North Korean community in Japan for her latest movie, the feature film “Our Homeland,” which made its South Korean debut Saturday at the Busan International Film Festival.

“Our Homeland” tells the story of Sung Ho, a Japanese-born Korean who was among the estimated 90,000 people sent by their families to North Korea during a wave of repatriations from the late 1950s to the 1970s. He returns to Tokyo after 25 years away for a brief reunion with the rest of the family still living in Japan and medical treatment for his brain tumor.

The movie, which premiered at the Berlin film festival, was selected as Japan’s Academy Awards entry this year for best foreign-language film - a notable accomplishment for an ethnic Korean director from Japan, a country long accused of treating its ethnic Korean residents like second-class citizens.

“Our Homeland” is among three films screening in Busan with connections to North Korea. Feature film “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” is a joint North Korean-European production about a coal miner with aspirations to become a trapeze artist, and “Choongshim, Soso” is a short South Korean-made film about a North Korean defector hiding in China.

Yang belongs to the ethnic Korean “zainichi” minority in Japan, many of them descendants of Koreans brought there during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea. The community is divided between those pledging allegiance to Pyongyang and those to Seoul; all are assigned Korean passports at birth, even if their families have lived in Japan for generations.

“Our Homeland,” her first feature film, is based on her own reunion with a brother sent to North Korea at age 16 by their pro-North Korean father at a time when North Korea had a stronger economy than South Korea. Like many fathers of his generation, he believed life would be better for his son in North Korea than in Japan, where Koreans faced widespread discrimination.

Yang explored the same issue in two documentaries, “Dear Pyongyang” of 2005 and “Sona, the Other Myself” of 2009, both based on interaction with her family in North Korea.

Read the whole text:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Between Art and Information: Collecting Photographs - CALL FOR PAPERS

Announcement from H-ASIA:

One Day Meeting, Leicester, Saturday March 2nd 2013

Museums and Galleries History Group/Photographic History Research Centre,
De Montfort University

The status of photographs in the history of museum collections is a complex one. From the inception of the medium its double capacity as an aesthetic form and as a recording medium created tensions about its place in the hierarchy of museum objects.  While museums had been amassing photographs since about 1850, it was, for instance, only in the 1970s that the first senior curators of photographs were appointed in UK museums. On the one hand major collections of ‘art’ photography have grown in status and visibility, while photographs not designated  ‘art’ are often invisible in museums. On the other hand almost every museum has photographs as part of its ecosystem, gathered as information, corroboration or documentation, shaping the understanding of other classes of objects. Many of these collections remain uncatalogued and their significance unrecognised. However recent years have seen an increasing interest in the histories of these humble objects, both their role in collections histories and their histories in their own right.  

This one-day meeting, a collaboration between MGHG and the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester, will explore the substantive and historiographical questions around museum collections of photographs. How do categories of the aesthetic and evidential shape the history of collecting photographs? What are the implications of shifts in these categories? What has been the work of photographs in museums? What does an understanding of photograph collections add to our understanding of collections history more broadly? What are the methodological demands of research on photograph collections? 

For more information:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Power shot / Examining the works of Kishin Shinoyama"

Images borrowed from SHINOYAMAKISHIN.JP.

Story from The Daily Yomiuri Online, 10/5/12:

A photography exhibition featuring works by Kishin Shinoyama, who has spent his career on the cutting edge of photography, recently opened at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

THE PEOPLE by KISHIN, which focuses on "the power of photography," has about 120 portraits taken over the last 50 years covering a variety of themes.

The exhibit features huge photos, including a 3.4-meter by 3.4-meter portrait of the late actress Reiko Ohara and a 7-meter-wide picture of kabuki female role-player Bando Tamasaburo.

"Everyone will be surprised [at the power of the oversized photos]. Even I'm surprised," Shinoyama said before the opening.

Shinoyama, 71, has captured shining moments of showbiz personalities who added color to their times and witnessed the scenes that engaged people's imagination. His photos distill the essence of his subjects, conveying their refined beauty or their literally naked power.

The photos on display are definitive images spanning half a century, with Shinoyama capturing "the moment the god of photography descended."

Some of them, such as those of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, pop singer Momoe Yamaguchi, novelist Yukio Mishima, actresses Sayuri Yoshinaga and Rie Miyazawa and all-girl idol group AKB48 are dramatically enlarged.

Blowing up the photos takes advantage of the generous exhibition space to best show the impact of the photos.

The exhibition was first held at the Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, from the end of June through mid-September and attracted more than 30,000 people.

As the Tokyo venue is more spacious and has higher ceilings than the Kumamoto museum, the Tokyo exhibition will give audiences a better opportunity to experience the powerful energy inherent in the photos. After Tokyo, it will move to Hiroshima Prefecture and Niigata and run through March 2014.

The pictures are separated into five categories--GOD (The deceased), STAR (Celebrities), SPECTACLE (Dream worlds that take us to another dimension), BODY (The body undressed--beauty, eroticism, struggle) and ACCIDENTS (March 11, 2011--Portraits of victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake).


The power of photography

Asked about what makes a powerful photograph, Shinoyama said, "It's a photo with the potential of having a strong impact on the subject, the photographer and the viewers in a way that transcends space-time, truth or falsehoods, and so on."

As to how to take a powerful photo, he said: "A photographer should respect the subject and not have a condescending or flattering attitude. The photographer must correctly read the atmosphere and create a relaxing environment. Their senses should be heightened to the maximum before pressing the shutter button."

Shinoyama, when asked how to nurture such power, replied: "Listen to good music, watch plays, travel when you feel like it, associate with good friends, eat tasty foods...Anything will do. Nurture a sensibility that makes you want to react strongly when you meet good subjects and shoot them."

Meanwhile, THE PEOPLE by KISHIN is a new challenge.

"This series of shows is the first large-scale exhibition for me in public museums in Japan. I feel that photographs are alive, so they are not suitable for display in a museum. I thought of such a display as 'a grave for my work,'" he said.

"But when trying to prepare the exhibition in a way that the photos would engage viewers, I felt the exhibition breathed a new life into my work. I was moved to discover that. My photos have always been for publications, so it was the first time for me to see such huge prints," he added.

In the exhibit, photos of celebrities occupy a large amount of space.

"I pay attention to the atmosphere of the times and follow the demand for stars of the era. For example, Momoe Yamaguchi in the 1970s, Seiko Matsuda in the 1980s and currently AKB48. So viewers become emotionally involved in the photo subjects and think back nostalgically about that time," he said.

Shinoyama does not like his exhibition referred to as a "retrospective."

"I always move in a positive direction and remain curious. Through this exhibition I want to keep an open mind to taking on new challenges," he said.

"THE PEOPLE by KISHIN" through Dec. 24 at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). Last entry 30 minutes before closing. Closed on Mondays. If Monday is a public holiday, the museum will be open that day and be closed the following Tuesday. (Open Oct. 8 and Dec. 24, closed Oct. 9). The nearest station is Hatsudai Station on Keioshinsen line. Admission: 1,000 yen for adults; 800 yen for university and high school students; 600 yen for middle and primary school students; 500 yen for those aged 65 and older. For more information, call the gallery at (03) 5353-0756.


Kishin's website (in Japanese):