2020 H151 × W208 cm, Washi paper on wood panel, sumi ink, pigment, animal glue, gold leaf
During the World WarⅡ, one of the war paintings produced at the order of the imperial Japanese army was rejected by it and then hidden away by its artist.
This painting was finally shown to the public when it was included in a catalogue of war paintings published after the war. However, the artist, mindful of the change of values as compared to during the war, used sumi ink to blot out the background depiction of cherry blossoms, which symbolized the wartime virtues summarized in the idiom jinchu hokoku, and transformed the painting into one of tsuito aiseki.
In this work, I blotted out the figure of the corpse in the painting shown to the postwar public, and painted in cherry blossoms, which were blotted out and cannot be seen in the artist’s painting today.
I depicted oka ranman, the idiom for cherry blossoms in glorious bloom that today, 75 years after the end of the war, are simply admired with no recollection of their use in the formation of Japanese nationalism, and the “look” of the contemporary age, with its intimations of the rebirth of jinchu hokoku in the air.
These days, when there is so much talk about freedom of expression, is it really possible for “freedom of expression” to exist in this country?
Aiseki: To grieve and deplore*1*
2. A tentative translation of the title of a work available only in Japanese.
2020 H8 × W114.5 × D8 cm, Cherry tree
About 150 years ago. In the Aizu district of today’s Fukushima Prefecture, one of the military corps organized by the Aizu clan headed by Matsudaira Katamori was the White Tiger Unit*1, whose members were youths aged 16 and 17. In the Boshin War, a civil war that broke out at the end of the Edo period, 19 members*2 of this unit committed seppuku on Iimori Hill, in the mistaken belief that Tsurugajo Castle, their headquarters, was aflame.
About 35 years later, when war with Imperial Russia*3 was in the air in the wake of that with Qing dynas ty China*4, the White Tigers were taken as paragons of loyal ty and patriotism, and their name was publicized nationwide. They reportedly also became known in other countries through the first World Scout Jamboree held in Great Britain in 1920. The Scouts cherished trustworthiness, friendliness, courtesy, kindness , obedience, cleanliness, and love of country, and at the Jamboree it is said that the White Tigers were characterized as youths who practiced the spirit of chivalry in an exceedingly Japanese way.
From about 1904 to 1945 (from the Meiji and Taisho eras to the end of World War II), the story of the White Tigers also appeared in the government-designated textbooks*5 authored by the Ministry of Education. The textbooks asserted that to die gallantly with no hesitation was precisely the proper Japanese attitude.
As a result, this story may well have been one of the elements that prodded on the young soldiers who went off to the battlefield.
The bokuto is a plain wooden sword that is sold as a souvenir article in Tokyo’s Asakusa district and other sightseeing places throughout Japan. It originated in the Aizu district of Fukushima.
Around 1897 (Meiji 30), a member of the Imperial Family on a journey to the Aizu district was gifted with a sword made of plain wood by a woodcarver in the city. “How about calling this a ‘White Tiger Sword’ and selling it?” he suggested. This led to sales of bout as Aizu souvenirs.
I n the Taisho era, souvenir bokuto were s o ld on I imo r i Hil l, where the White Tiger members committed seppuku. At their height, Aizu bokuto were being manufactured by a remarkable 20 businesses.
Around 1970, an Aizu firm broadened its sales channels for this item to sightseeing spots across Japan, which started to sell bokuto as local souvenirs.
* The title is a tentative translation for a book available onl y in Japanese.
2020 Wood panel, paper, Uiro, cloth, wire, cherry blossom of Yasukuni Shrine
Only a few of the waka*1 poems in the “Manyoshu” anthology compiled from the late 7th century to the late 8th century*2 mention cherry blossoms. One is at the start of Volume 16, as follows.
Are scattered and gone.*3
The men of those times arbitrarily likened their lovers and love to cherry blossoms. It is a biological fact that many animals copulate in spring, and plants as well open their flowers to be pollinated. There is a certain boldness in the superposition of cherry blossoms open for pollination, women, and the poet’s own amorous sentiment.
Ikkyu Sojun, an eccentric 15th-century monk affiliated with the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, wrote the following about the “best things” in a number of categories.
For flower-viewing, Yoshino
This saying was passed on down through the generations without fading, and was even incorporated into “Kanadehon Chushingura” (“The Revenge of the Forty-Seven Ronin”), a Kabuki favorite, in the 17th century, nearly 300 years later.
Beginning around the middle of the 19th century (the start of the Meiji era), some of the proponents of a modern Japan asserted that cherry blossoms embodied the essence feudalism and symbolized an undesirable past. However, in his book “Bushido: The Soul of Japan,”*4 which was published in the middle part of the Meiji era, Inazo Nitobe set forth his view that the bushido spirit, which he claimed developed in the feudal age, was still rooted in and animating people’s lives today, and was something uniquely Japanese that the country should be proud of. In this connection, he quoted the following waka poem by Motoori Norinaga, an Edo period scholar and physician active in the latter part of the 18th century:
Blows the cherry wild and fair”*5
Nitobe asserted that bushido is a flower distinctive to the soil of Japan, like the cherry blossom, which he saw as its emblem.*6 He therefore used the blossom as a symbol of Yamato-damashi, the Japanese spirit.
With the onset of wars with Qing dynasty China*7 and imperial Russia*8 from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, many memorial parks were built by the imperial government. The Somei-yoshino, then a newcomer species of cherry tree, was regarded as suitable for planting in these parks to refresh people’s memories, owing to their low cost, amenability to grafting, and fast growth. While they, of course, looked beautiful, Somei-yoshino trees were adopted largely because of their economic merit.
During World War II, sakura-related names were chosen for the initial squadrons of the kamikaze, whose attacks consisted of crashing into targets and were premised on the death of the pilot. Examples are Wild Sakura, Early Sakura, Young Sakura, Leaf Sakura, Sakon (the name of a famous cherry tree in Kyoto), and Yoshino (a place for viewing cherry blossoms).
The Oka (Cherry Blossom) model of aircraft flown by the kamikaze squadrons bore a cherry blossom insignia, thereby associating the death of the pilots with the falling of cherry blossom petals. Similarly, the cherry trees in the precincts of Yasukuni Shrine were said to the reincarnations of fallen soldiers, as evidenced by the lyrics of the war song “Cherry Blossoms of the Same Year.”
After the war, cherry trees were planted in parks, along roads, and in other public space throughout Japan in the process of the reconstruction of cities along with recovery and booming economic growth. The Great East Japan Earthquake, which struck on March 11, 2011, was followed by the execution of various projects for the planting and subsequent management of cherry trees, such as Sakura Line 311, Sakura Project 3.11, and Sakura Namiki Project. These projects were aimed at keeping alive the memory of the farthest point reached by the tsunami, making memorials for the dead, restoring the scenery, etc.
The image of the cherry blossom has therefore been manipulated to suit various historical circumstances (of which the above are only some examples). Nevertheless, here in 2020, it is clear to all that it is virtually equated with Japan. Its image is stamped on 100-yen coins and printed on 1,000-yen bills. In connection with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralymic Games as well, it appears on the logo that was used to promote Tokyo’s selection as the host city, the mascot, and commemorative medal.
Through my participation in the recent Aichi Triennale, I learned in the process of research for on-site production that the confection uiro became famous as a souvenir of Nagoya owing to its adoption for in-coach sales on the Shinkansen Bullet Train, the world’s first train of its type, when the Shinkansen was placed into service in 1964.
Nagoya was served by the Shinkansen, which effectively shrank its distance from Tokyo and Osaka at a single stroke. This led to a substantial increase in the number of people visiting Nagoya and rise in its economic level. The Linear Chuo Shinkansen (applying magnetic levitation) is scheduled to be placed into service between Tokyo and Osaka in 2027. I was afraid that this development would lead to the rise of a new souvenir item that would take the place of the Nagoya uiro I love so much. This apprehension motivated me to produce “uiro for viewing” in order to preserve the treat more or less permanently.
In contradistinction to the totalitarian Yasukuni cherry trees that are the consequence of the continued use of the cherry blossom in the formation of nationalism from 1,300 years ago to the present, I made my super-individualistic uiro cherry tree.
* Book titles are tentative translations for works available only in Japanese.
2019 Video data 10min31sec, Someiyoshino – cherry tree 350 × 625 × 420cm, , uiro – Japanese rice jelly, Watercolor paints, food coloring, Wires, Soil
The “Shinkansen” the world’s first high-speed railway and dream infrastructure, which opened 55 years ago in line with the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, had a major impact on people’s lives and culture. Uiro (Japanese steamed cake), which by now i s widely famous as a local specialty of Nagoya, had also come to be recognized throughout Japan due to being selected for in-train sales on the Shinkansen.
Eight years from now in 2027, the “Chuo Shinkansen” maglev line that connects Tokyo and Osaka i n approximate l y one hour, w i l l begin operati n g here i n Nagoya. Large-scale urban developments that are simultaneously underway will once more bring about much change to the cityscape, and also change the flow of popul ation to and from th e city. As a result of such influen ces, “N agoya’ s
Specialty” may indeed also be subject to change.
On this occasion I attempted to take “Uiro,” Aichi prefecture a nd Nagoya’ s local specialty born in the Showa period, and transform it from something that is eaten to something that is to be viewed and appreciated. My objective is to preserve and record “Uiro” and its reputation as a local specialty of Nagoya,fearing the possibility for it to be replaced with something else in light of then e winfrastructure that is established.
The work at the same time reflects my sincere desire to be able to eat “Uiro,” a confectionery that I love so dearly, for the rest of my life.
2019 Video data 03min03sec
In 2109, Tokyo is in a building boom for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
A long time ago, Chieko Takamura, who suffered from mental illness, left the words “No sky in Tokyo”. The actor got into character of Chieko’s husband, Kotaro Takamura who loved her. He begged the building to fill the Tokyo sky and make it invisible.
2019 Photo, Pigments, The rainfall, Canvas, Canvas board / 31.8×41.0, 45.5×53.0, 50.0×60.6 cm
The names of locations within Tokyo’s 23 wards where urban redevelopment has been in progress since the early 2000s in light of the approaching 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the opening of the Chuo Shinkansen (maglev line) in 2027.
The two-dimensional works depict the ever-changing landscapes of Tokyo in preparation for 2020. Canvases covered in pigment are placed in various locations across the city, and are left out in the rain.
Blank Canvas：Imperial Paleace
2019 Video data 17min46sec
The future arrives with violence, ushering in something new for us.
Who could have predicted that the landscape with which we were born and raised could change so completely?
Taiwan, before and during the war.Japanese colonial rule started in 1895 and lasted 50 years.The children born in Taiwan during this time were brought up in the same way as children in Japan. But…At noon on August 15, 1945.. The Emperor gave a radio broadcast announcing the end of the war.And Taiwan was taken over by the Republic of China. (The handover officially took place on October 25, 1945.)
For this work, I visited people over 80 years of age in order to learn about the period of Japanese rule in Taiwan. I asked them about Taiwan at that time.I decided to imagine their “past future” that might have taken place.
2018 Video data 3min22sec
This work is a project to 3D scan “Peace of statue” which became the first public art in the Jongno District in Seoul, Korea, and to “record” it’s free distribution of the 3D data. Until now Korea, Japan, and other countries, as the government of the country changes, the policy of the country has changed.
So by open sourcing this public model “Peace of statue” and its historical circumstances to “Public” on SNS and the Internet, individuals all over the world “Permanently” “record ” It is one of the projects “public archive” to try things.
2017 Video data 24min58sec
Taiwan was governed by Japan for 50 years, After that it’s governed by China at just now. Therefore, I heard that communication between the generation is braking off. Because it’s different in the language with which they deal during the generation. So the culture and the custom are also different between the generation. And also old people have few chances of going out for dementia of aging and aging, and its tendency is being accelerated increasingly.
So I thought, I’ll visit a old Taiwanese people who speaks Japanese, and I record the people who remember the Japanese and old Japanese culture and manners and customs. That it’s urgent and important to do.
The young people who saw the video would think how to do in the future.
Location : Taipei and Tainan in “Taiwan”
2017 Video data 05min13sec
The radius 20 km ”Caution areas”
The radius 30 km “Emergency Evacuation Preparedness Zone”
The radius 50 km ”Planned Evacuation Zone”
The radius 200 km ”Tokyo” -The capital of Japan
The radius 1,800 km ”Okinawa” -There was the only ground battle of WW II fought on the Japanese islands.
Too far to see, Too far to hear
2016 Video data 18min37sec / Installation
The Ministry of economy, Trade and Industry is located at Kasumigaseki in Japan. That composed by 2 government buildings. This exhibition will be held at “anti-nuclear museum” that inside at one of 3 temporary tents build without permission, located front of government buildings. This museum is built for appeal voices from people to stop the resuming nuclear power plant operations and export of nuclear power generation. After March 2011, Participants of Movement of anti nuclear or “Nuclear phase-out” are over two hundred thousand. Now, the number of people who joined this movement is declined, there make a voice for the anti and “phase-out” for nuclear. Theme of this exhibition is, “Temporary: Reality and Ideals of Temporary tents”. Taking an interview from people who staying at Tents of Nuclear “phase-out, I know what is going on. I will propose a “comfortable living space” as an “irony” for nuclear that still exist, and as a spirit of respect for the aged who tired because of the activities were continued with 24 hours a day. Trying to change the situation that completely choked between Nation and Tents.
2016 Video data 05min40sec / silk-screen printing
The motif is an office worker because I worked at a company. At the time, my works was very hard. At One Friday night, office workers slept on the road at Shibuya, Shinjuku, Shinbashi in Tokyo. Because they were drunk and very tired. They didn’t have any day off and couldn’t have rest everyday. However, I think they are hero. So I covered them in clothes like Jesus Christ. We call companies which make employees work over time and don’t give them day-off. So called black company in japan. A black company’s logo was on the cloth. They are like me and my self-portrait.
2016 Movie data 06min57sec / Model of baby’s foot
2015 Video, masks, watercoloring, paper- The local newspaper for 4 years after March 11, 2011, photo
Conditions of creation:
– Limited to a temporary housing residents
– Materials cut through newspaper (Provincial newspaper of Fukushima) by hand
– Paste the split newspaper on a pure white masks
– They wear the mask and point to their hometown
They live in Temporary houses from 2011. They are called victims but they have their own name and each all different people. I cut a local newspaper by hand with them together. Then I put them on masks. I asked them to put the masks on their faces, and they pointed their hometown’s direction. Most of them are senior citizen.
Exhibition photo: Kota Takeuchi
2015 Movie data 02min32sec
This work is I got to know their strong minds to keep staying in Fukushima even though some people were out. The message “This sky is the real sky” was written on the wooden pole at Mt.Adatara in Nihonmatsu city in Fukushima. In this movie, I keep screaming “This sky is the real !!” while I was pelted by nuclear fallout.
2015 Movie data 02min39sec / Photo / This dolphin’s born
11 April 2015, after huge earthquake effected us in many ways. Dead 150 dolphins were washed up on a beach in Ibaraki in Japan. Some people were surfing near that place, and they found one dolphin was still alive, so they put the dolphin back to the sea. But the dolphin came back to the beach and dead soon. Even though the dolphin could be alive, he did not have any choice to die. I saw their instinct as animals. However it is not only about dolphins, but us.
2014 Movie data 07min11sec / Photo
“LInCCAi-chan” which means “The critical point” and “between adult and child”. After the nuclear disaster in FUKUSHIMA, many people visited to IWAKI because they need jobs, It was a kind of Fukushima’s bubble economy at some sex shops. So I went to IWAKI to buy a girl. But I couldn’t buy her. Because she is called Licca and the name is my ex-girlfriend name when I was high school student. So I went to a factory of famous doll which is called Licca-chan. Licca-chan similar to “Barbie doll”. I bought a Licca-chan at ONONIIMACHI in FUKUSHIMA and she was healing me.