Monday, December 11, 2017

The Restoration Will

A photobook review.

 Two editions of "The Restoration Will" by Mayumi Suzuki.

Part 1 
Photographs as memories and the Great East Japan Earthquake

To add a little background to one of the sources of images in "The Restoration Will" and explain an extra reason why I think it's an important work I want to first refer to two other photobooks by different artists.  
In the days, weeks and months that followed the huge earthquake and tsunami that struck the North East coast of Japan on March 11th 2011 two things occurred which overlap in all three of these works.  Firstly Japanese artists felt compelled to create work based around the aftermath partly due to the shock of what they saw or out of a desire to highlight government failings. Others were inspired because they were born or lived in the affected area. 
In addition schemes were set up to collect and salvage photographs , photo albums and similar items from the mud and rubble. These were cleaned and dried then held in public spaces for survivors or relatives of victims to collect.
Many people had lost everything they owned, their homes and their workplaces, others had lost loved ones, relatives and friends. If they could recover their photographs they would at least have some precious memories back.  
Many people including artists and photographers also felt the  need to volunteer to help survivors or the relief effort with some working in the photo cleaning and recovery process. 

The following photos show two photobooks that document this process and gives an idea of the scale of the project. The first by Munemasa Takahashi ended up as a traveling exhibition displaying recovered photos that were mostly too ruined to be reclaimed. The second by Masashi Asada and Satoshi Fujimoto documents the teams of volunteers in various locations .
Please click on the images  to view in more detail.

The photograph inset on the cover of The Restoration Will is one such photo recovered and cleaned by volunteers in Onagawa and reclaimed later by Mayumi Suzuki along with other family snap shots.
Mayumi is a photographer who was born in Onagawa, her Father was a photographer in the town and their family home was also a photography studio. Mayumi's parents went missing in the tsunami and were never found.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Ozawa Shuzo Sake Brewery, Sawai, Tokyo .

I wanted to visit a sake brewery while in Japan, it seemed there were a couple of possibilities in the Tokyo area but the Ozawa Shuzo Brewery had the bonus of being located in a scenic river valley.
Taking the Chuo line and then the Ome line from Kichijoji station,  the city suburbs eventually thin out and a few mountains come into view as the train approaches Sawai station.
The Brewery is just a couple of minutes walk downhill from the station overlooking the Tama river.

The view from the opposite side of the river, the brewery is the white building in the lower left.

The tour and talk was in Japanese only but there was an English language leaflet .
The brewer is explaining the difference between rice used for sake and rice used for eating.

 Here different types of rice , milled rice and flour are on display

The entrance to a tunnel leading to the brewery water source, an underground spring.

Finally back in the lecture room a tasting of new season sake 

 Across the road from the main brewery overlooking the river is a spacious tasting area and bar,
where a full selection of the sake produced can be sampled at a reasonable price .

Just outside there is also a shop where bottles can be bought and a snack bar where hot food can be bought to eat on a riverside terrace.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A stroll around Yanaka March 2017 part 3

4th March 2017
A visit to Nezu Shrine.

After  enjoying hand dripped coffee and exploring some side streets near Yanaka Ginza it was only a short walk to reach the Nezu Shrine.
By this time the sun had come out, the sky was blue and everything was very bright. The shrine looked amazing in the sunlight so I decided to use a different camera. The Panasonic LX7 was not the best camera I was carrying and it struggles a little in the high contrast between shadow and bright light in the Japanese sunshine. However it is still pretty good and I chose to use it as it has a great 16:9 widescreen setting which captures the views within the shrine grounds more spectacularly. 
Nezu Shrine is supposedly one of the oldest in Japan and it is certainly very attractive now.
Legend suggests the shrine originated in the first century BC, founded by a "fearsome Prince" then moved a short distance to it's present location in the mid 17th century and apparently many of the current structures date back to  1706 when the shrine was rebuilt.

As always please click the photos once and then a second time to view in full quality.

Friday, April 07, 2017

"The Restoration Will" Japanese news video clip.

 My friend Mayumi Suzuki is featured in this news video regarding her photobook "The Restoration Will"
I'll write more about this later but for now please watch the video, the report and interview is in Japanese but the footage of Onagawa and the equipment that is displayed is interesting and relates to Mayumi's book and her exhibition that I visited while in Tokyo in March.

Please click here to view the news video

Thursday, April 06, 2017

A stroll around Yanaka March 2017 part 2

4th March 2017

It was just a  short walk from Yanaka cemetery to locate the steps that lead down into Yanaka-ginza: a popular shopping district consisting of one main street with a few side streets leading from it. It's a narrow pedestrian street lined with shops, restaurants, cafe's and stalls.  With most of the buildings dating back to the mid 20th century  I had the feeling of stepping back in time to a busy 1950s or 1960s  Tokyo shopping street like the ones in old Japanese films.

As always please click on the photos once and then a second time to view in full detail.