– Contents –
＜１＞”The Japonism” (photo works)
＜２＞Our workshop “A Window on Japan” (an overseas project with Dr.Terauchi)
Naoya Yamaguchi :Photographer
Diva・Unison Co. President
My name is Naoya Yamaguchi, and I am a free agent photographer in Japan.
I usually take publicity photographs of commercials and TV personalities. I have a photograph studio in Tokyo. It is a studio called “Studio☆DIVA” and there are about twenty professional hair and makeup artists and photographers in total. They are all great artists who have trained hard and they are also my precious friends.
I will introduce you some of my lifework pieces in this site. They are from a group of pieces called “The Japonism.” In a word, they express essences of Japanese sense of beauty, emotions, and ideas.
I work as an official photographer for “Miss Japan” and “Miss International,” so they are happy to take parts in my pieces as models. Also, dancers and actors whom I have worked with willingly cooperate with me. Their hair set and makeup are done by artists at “Studio☆DIVA.” It is rather enjoyable time to make creative photo shoots, I think.
As for me, images for the pieces well up from my unconsciousness. I put them in actual pieces by using Japanese traditional cultures and the sense of life of Japanese people, especially emotions of four seasons. Therefore they are not reportorial pieces about Japan, but some deep and clear Japanese essences.
For example, please look at the piece, “Oiran.” There was not an Oiran as beautiful as her in Yoshiwara (a theme park of prostitutes and courtesans) in Edo Era. Also, please take a look at “Greeting of Spring.”There could not have been a moment of an encounter as bright and breathtaking in spring at a mountain village.
In principle, my pieces are all actual photography and not composite. The biggest advantage of photography is being able to get the very moment. However, the most important thing of photography is the texture and atmosphere of the world expressed in it. I want to see the record of lively creation of our existence and surrounding space. In other words, I care about being live.
I hope to take photographs that are something nostalgic, and photographs that I have never seen before.
I hope you enjoy my “The Japonism.”
In the 1860s, Ukiyo-e, Japanese wood-block prints, became a source of inspiration for many European impressionists, especially painters, and even for Art Nouveau and Cubism. As you may know, such a trend in Western art-history is called “Japonism”.
Artists were especially influenced by elements such as “the lack of perspective and shadow”, “the flat areas of simple color”, “the compositional freedom in placing the subject off-center”, “frequently asymmetric”, “the multi-viewpoints”, and “the various motives from nature”. From the point of view of Japanese aesthetics, “the bold deformation(Hokusai-Manga)”, “the decorative style after manneristic pattern(Kano-ha; painters)”, and “the emphasis of horizontal and straight lines(Sindenzukuri; architecture)” can be included.
However, if you look spiritual aspect of Japanese art, there are more important elements. “The subtle and profound silence(U-gen)”, “the contemplation in nature(Basho; Haiku)”, “the ritual conception a static beauty(Zeami; Noh)”,and “the sensibility for the beauty in fluttering flower leaves(Mujo: ex. cherry blossom as the iconic flower of Japan)” are examples. These elements must have some implications of Japanese “collective unconsciousness” which exists in their mind.
In my activity of creating pieces I will define the “Japonism” with these new viewpoints from Japanese as “The Japonism.”
It seems as if the dancer is guiding the two malevolent gods. While a beautiful image, at the same time tremendous power is shown.
A dragon is a symbol of fertility that brings a welcome rain in Japan. It was tied to water probably because it resembles a winding river just like Naga in India. So dragons are often drawn on the ceilings of temples as a charm of preventing fires. It is also considered as a guardian of Buddhism at temples. (It is probably because according to a legend in India, Naga believed devoutly in Buddhism hearing Buddha’s sermon.) A dragon in Japan has a whole different concept from Western dragons.
This Cherry Blossom tree is over 600 years old. The large trunk is like a rock, though at the center, juvenescent life flows abundantly. A woman cocooned in silk stands as in a daze.
She has not realized yet that the “Hannya” is already in her room. This demon is the embodiment of grudge, jealousy, pain, and anger. Different light shines the demon to show it is from a different world, but it surely exists in the same room. The demon approaches her in response to the darkness in her mind, and it will consume her in the course of time. The only weapon that can destroy the demon and save her is not a rough sword used in a fight, but love of the hero, you.
A mask of a fox and girl’s face appear white inside the dim warehouse. Was she forced in there or shut herself away? A bright future should be promised to the beautiful girl, but first she has to do something and deal with the darkness and the fox inside her.
Shirakawa is a small river that flows through Gion, the red-light district in Kyoto. Japanese-style restaurants line up along the river bank, and you can have refined Kaiseki-ryori, tea-ceremony dishes. When I was on the bridge over the river, I suddenly had the idea of expressing a traditional Japanese woman here. It is my fundamental image of an old-fashioned Japanese girl. The pose with flowing black hair was decided quickly, and I took several pictures.
Where has the sorrow of Shirabyoshi gone? Where have her fine singing voice and her gaze gone? After the lapse of many years, how much time has passed?
Everything has disappeared over time, but Shirabyoshi’s heart was stored as a fossil. I came in touch with a piece of this memory at the mountain temple. I saw an illusion of a Shirabyoshi through the model.
With passing of time, Shirabyoshi became either Geiko or Geisha who specialized devotedly on entertainment, or Tayu or Oiran who were high-class courtesans. The highest rank of courtesan, “Tayu” had started in the 17th century, and it came to be called “Oiran” in Edo (today’s Tokyo). High intelligence and excellent arts were necessary to be an Oiran, and not every courtesan but only the selected few could become one.
The Cherry Blossom is the flower of Japanese peoples heart. During spring, every day television reports on the ‘Cherry Blossom Front’. There is the riotous commotion of Cherry Blossom viewing (Hanami)in town parks. However, there are also trees that blossom unknowingly in mountainous areas, even ancient trees that continue blossoming quietly after hundreds of years.
There was a “shirabyoshi(medieval Japanese dancer)” who had to set off on a journey early in the morning. When would she be able to come back to this capital?
The purpose of the visit is to rouse people’s interest in Japan and to spread awareness of the distinct features of Japanese culture and aesthetics. There are five delegates altogether. They are Ms. Takagi as general coordinator, Dr. Terauchi as a lecturer specializing in the area of intercultural education, Ms. Yokomizo as a hairdresser, Ms. Terauchi as a dresser, and Mr. Yamaguchi as a photographer as well as a lecturer. The contents of this project are lectures on the pursuit of Japan’s aesthetic sense through photos taken by Mr. Yamaguchi, including a lecture and a workshop by him in the first part of the session. The latter half of the session concentrates on practices and offers demonstrations on dress and hairstyles. A photo shoot of the participants dressing in kimonos is also included.
Table Works by Yamaguchi
|Magnanimity and a strong sense of vitality||Jomon (cord-marked pottery)||
“New Life (La Vita Nuova)”
|Graceful kindness and sensitivity||
Ocho literature (literature of dynasty)
Waka (traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables)
Literature of Sorrow
“May God Stay under Flowers”
“Inside the Godown”
“Secrecy of a beam dust”
|Courage, respect, and purity||Bushi do (spirit of Bushi)||
“God of Wind”
“God of Thunder”
|A keen observation of nature||
“Memories of Frost”
|Philosophy that deepens relationships between ego and the world||Zen||
|Belief in stillness and beauty of static forms||
“Dance of Snow”
|Aesthetic and philosophy of ultimate hospitality||Tea ceremony, wabi and sabi||“A Break”|
|Grand formations and displays of characters||
Pictures of birds, animals
Hokusai (animated stories)
Sharaku (modern animations)
“Shirabyoushi” (a courtesan)
|Reflection on the four seasons and contemplation of time||
Kaiseki (tea-ceremony dishes; a
light meal served before a
“Dance of Snow”
“Morning Has Not Yet Come”
“Under the Cherry Blossoms”
“Memories of Stars and Frost”
|Refined, pure style of dress and decoration||
A garment with a long trailing skirt worn over a bride’s kimono and obi
Mannerism of Rin-school
“All Sorts of Flowers (Spring
|Free, plain composition||Ukiyoe (woodblock print)||
“God of Wind”
“God of Thunder”
|Simple and horizontal directions||
Mounting (Hyogu) and
Katsura rikyu (Katsura Imperial
The sense of Japanese beauty described in the table above will be conveyed to people of other countries with impressive impact.
As for projections, the team is to use selected works by Yamaguchi called “The Japonism.” The project aims at developing beautiful images of Japan as “Japan-like” into visual works that may have impact through the filter.
These visual projections should be images taken from the foundation that human beings share and should have a strong impact on those who have little professional knowledge of fine arts.
Explanations and lectures are to be offered to show historical buildings, fine arts, philosophy, and the four seasons through the presented works. At the same time, participants are to be invited to a discussion session to talk about the cultural constructs of Japan and Italy or England.
A practice of hairdressing and wearing kimonos is to be done. Participants are encouraged to join in for the exercise. It is expected that participants will vary in age and nationality. With careful observation of participants, workshops entitled “Workshop as a window on Japan” will be conducted.
●Fourth Stage: Assessment of Project Achievements
In order to evaluate the achievement of this project, the following are to be carried out:
・ Participants will fill out two questionnaires: one multiple-choice, the other descriptive.
・ A report will be written, analyzing the results of the questionnaires and presenting feedback from the promoters.