Japan Foundation New Delhi reopens with a monumental exhibition on Tohoku

After a hiatus of two years, Japan Foundation New Delhi has reopened with the exhibition “TOHOKU - Through the Eyes of Japanese Photographers,” which will continue to be on display till May 21

Japan Foundation New Delhi reopens with a monumental exhibition on Tohoku
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Murtaza Ali Khan

After a hiatus of two years, Japan Foundation New Delhi has reopened with the exhibition “TOHOKU - Through the Eyes of Japanese Photographers,” which will continue to be on display till May 21. "This exhibition was initially scheduled in 2020 but it had to be delayed because of the pandemic. It’s the first physical exhibition since the pandemic. Since it’s essentially a traveling exhibition we want to take it to other parts of India as well. Other than this we have a series of other activities planned such as an exhibition on the Japanese manga later in the year. But a lot depends on the situation given the uncertainty still around,” reveals Aoi Ishimaru, director of Arts and Cultural Exchange, Japan Foundation.

An earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck Japan on March 11, 2011, and the worst damage was concentrated in the Tohoku region. Its devastating impact left 20,000 people dead and caused the unprecedented nuclear accident at No. 1 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The ensuing media coverage made the people familiar with Tohoku but a broader knowledge of the region—its culture, history, people and their way of life—is mostly unknown to the world. This exhibition on Tohoku is a monumental work that aims to fill the void by enhancing the understanding of culture, climate, and life in Tohoku for the people all across the globe.

The photographs of Tohoku (Northeast region of Japan) are curated by Kotaro Iizawa, who is recognized as the leading expert of photography critics in Japan. This exhibition is composed of the work of nine individual photographers and one photographers’ group. In words of Iizawa, “These photographs represent the varied faces of Tohoku, and we hope that this relatively unknown region will be rendered more familiar by the brilliant artistic expression of these marvelous Japanese photographers.”

The nine individual photographers include Teisuke Chiba and Ichiro Kojima (who photographed Tohoku in the 1950s and 1960s), Hideo Haga, Masatoshi Naito, and Masaru Tatsuki (who have all recorded festivals and folk religious sites throughout the region), Hiroshi Oshima and Naoya Hatakeyama (both of whom have combined their personal histories with the landscapes of their home region), Meiki Lin (whose focus is on the beautiful natural environment), and Nao Tsuda (who has searched for the source of Japanese spirit in relics and artifacts of the Jomon period).

Japan Foundation New Delhi reopens with a monumental exhibition on Tohoku
Japan Foundation New Delhi reopens with a monumental exhibition on Tohoku

The exhibition also features the work of a group of photographers who led by Toru Ito have created the Sendai Collection—a series of rather unusual photographs compared to the others in the exhibition of anonymous scenes in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture in 2001. The other members of the group are Shiro Ouchi, Makoto Kotaki, Wataru Matsutani, Hidekazu Katakura, Hisashi Saito, Ryuji Sasaki, and Reiko Anbai. Before embarking on their quest the group divided up areas on a map by drawling lines and decided who would work in each area. Subsequently, they photographed a wide variety of structures in their respective areas, including houses, roads, and bridges. The project began with the aim of forming a collection of ten thousand photographs and it is still underway.

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Published: 28 Apr 2022, 7:30 PM