The Riverbed

Kentaro Takahashi

2014 - 2015

“The flowing river never stops and yet the water never stays the same.”

—Kamo No Chomei, “My Ten-Foot Hut”

It was only after the 3.11 earthquake in 2011, when I realized how the world we live in is full of uncertainties and that nothing can be taken for granted. Ever since, my view upon life has collapsed and I felt the need to recreate my own sense of values again in order to face my real life.

As I was going through some history books about Japan, I found out that Hokusai, the famous artist for Japanese paintings drew a landscape of the Mt.Fuji with the Tama River in the front in 1830. Tama River is one of the longest rivers going through the outskirts of Tokyo, and I had never gone there even though it runs through my hometown. The river as a motif, reminded me of Kamo No Chomei’s famous expression on life. He described how life can be uncertain and ephemeral by using the stream of a river as a metaphor from his long written essay, “My Ten-Foot Hut” which also covers the chaotic history of his time, such as conflicts between two rulers, the great fire and even an earthquake disaster.

That is when I decided to follow the Tama River. By observing and investigating the lives of contemporary Japanese people who are living along right now, I might be able to find and define what we Japanese had thought from the past. Therefore I believe that my discovery upon the sense of the ancient Japanese, which still remains and runs through our mind, will lead to the answer for what this country is all about. And hope to find answers for this question, for the future of Japan. “How to confront the crisis we are facing right now?”

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