--------------------------------------------------- "Vanishing Point" Exhibit Dates ---------------------------------------------------

None currently scheduled.

------------------------------------------------------- Upcoming Special Events -------------------------------------------------------


None currently scheduled.

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About Us

Photoji Project is: photographer Elizabeth Barbush, writer Gabriel DellaVecchia, interviewer/coordinator Makie Sugawara, interviewer/community liaison Takaharu Saito, and photographer Maki Otomo. Although we come from various backgrounds and two different countries, the five of us share a commitment to cultural sustainability and to the power of art as a tool for education and social change.

In August 2010, we spent three weeks documenting, through photographs, interviews, and audio recordings, the historically important onsen hot spring town of Naruko in the Tohoku region of Japan. We centered our explorations on the concept of toji: the traditional ritual of staying in a hot spring town for an extended period for the purposes of rejuvenation.

The original intention of the project was to exhibit our findings in Sendai, the largest city in the region, to highlight for the people there a fading cultural treasure located in their own backyard.

Then came the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th, 2011. Over the course of one terrible, bitterly cold winter afternoon, everything in this region of the world changed.

In a strange twist of fate, fading Naruko, home to hundreds of usually empty hotel rooms, became a refuge for 1000 tsunami victims, relocated there by the prefectural government. The ritual of toji, staying in an onsen town for an extended period in order to heal, has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Photoji Project returned to Naruko in May and June 2011, nearly one year after our original visit, to document how a place that was written off has now become safe haven for hundreds of families.

We are currently planning to share our exhibit "Vanishing Point" at two locations in California: first at the Little Tokyo Koban and Visitors' Center in Los Angeles (August 2011) and then at Elsewhere Gallery in the Bay Area (September 2011), during which we hope to raise money for the struggling businesses and tsunami refugees in Naruko.

Please share this blog and help us spread the word about this overlooked corner of Japan.

Photoji Project(フォトージ・プロジェクト)は、写真担当のエリザベス・バーブッシュ、ライターのガブリエル・デラベキア、取材/コーディネーターの菅原牧枝、取材/コミュニティ・リエゾンの齋藤高晴、写真担当の大友眞妃からなるプロジェクトです。
出身国も経歴も異なるメンバーに共通しているのは、教育や社会問題解決手段としてのアートの可能性や、文化の持続可能性に強く関心を持っていること。湯治文化の残る宮城県大崎市鳴子温泉で、湯治旅館やこけし職人等、30名以上の方々に写真撮影とインタビューを行ってきました。
2010年秋に、鳴子温泉駅での写真展「The Future of Tradition」を開催。
2011年夏には、ロサンゼルスとサンフランシスコで写真展「Vanishing Point」を開催予定です。

Saturday

Friday the 13th, indeed



It took us two tries to get to Wonder Farm…

After using my terrible Japanese to try to read one sign, we found ourselves walking along a rapidly narrowing forest path.

After visiting the shrine by accident, we tried a different path. Back on the highway, we passed a snack shop next to Musubiya that used to sell taiyaki and dango. It was there last week, but now it is gone. No sign, nothing, as if it was never there. Vanished… disappearing before our very eyes. The funeral of Marumiya, probably one of the owners… if we had talked to them the week before, maybe we could have recorded their stories, but now they are lost. Now this store gone, the pressure to record what we are seeing becomes all the greater.

We did eventually make it to Wonder Farm, nothing more spooky than an abandoned kids’ playground with giant horses. Our adventure almost got us stranded on the mountain.


Obon in Higashi Naruko

August 13, 2010

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