2016 - Ongoing
Growing up in Japan, I always wanted to travel—to see the world and experience what it would be like to live in the West. When I was twenty-seven, I moved to New York and started documenting cultures other than my own—the Americas and other parts of the world.
As years go by and I’ve gotten older, my interests have shifted to the culture I am most familiar with—my home, Japan. This series of photographs is part of my process of returning to my roots and rediscovering where I came from—especially the traditions that have informed my culture. The project started from my hometown, Fukuoka, on the western island of Japan. Through my mother’s illness and passing, I also reconnected with my father’s hometown, Matsue, in Izumo province which is home to many rituals and mythologies. There, the journey eventually led me to the eastern part of Izumo, to the small, sacred port town of Mihonoseki and the ancient Miho Shrine.
The people of Mihonoseki have long cherished and been devoted to their gods, and lived with what they see as the blessing of the sea for hundreds of years. Rituals are important in their lives and are passed down from generation to generation. I documented one of the most important, the Aofushigaki ritual, in which a famous episode from the Kojiki mythology written 1,300 years ago is re-enacted, involving the death and rebirth of a god.
In Izumo, I experience and view these intimately important yet very remote events and rituals from my vantage point as an immigrant in America who cannot help but find meaning in the Sakura (cherry blossoms) as a timeless metaphor for the acceptance of the transience of all life. As a photographer, this image beckons me to create and discover the meaning of beauty in the course of our short lives.