Andō Hiroshige: The Sixty-Nine Stations along the Kisokaido

As a committed admirer of Japanese wood block printing ‘Ukiyo-e‘, I chanced on the evocative, remarkable prints of Andō Hiroshige much later, overshadowed as his work was, by the more towering and venerated Katsushika Hokusai. Much younger to Hokusai, though his contemporary, Hiroshige (along with Kunisada) remained one of the most prolific ‘story-tellers’ of 19th C Edo period Japan till his ‘retirement’ as a Buddhist monk, and subsequent premature demise. Hiroshige is in his most communicative space when working on themes around peopled landscapes, in weaving in human activities around evocative topography and elements of the natural order. Read More…

Fumio Sasaki: Goodbye, Things (On Minimalist Living)

How often have you gotten about clearing the clutter in your life? Not very frequently I am sure and whenever you have, you would have probably dug up, re-discovered, discovered Things that you have accumulated over years and maybe decades, giving in to our seemingly endless patterns of consumption – relentless and perpetual. So, we have populated our rooms, homes and houses with Things – Things that are not necessarily of any utility or functionality any more, just more of storing, hoarding, and bringing in more Things to add to what is already there. Read More…

Louie Psihoyos: The Cove | 2009

The idyllic Pacific coastal whaling town of Taiji, in the Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, with its community of fisher-folk, long held a terrible secret, a secret that was uncovered and put to global critical scrutiny (and subsequent outrage) by a team of concerned animal and environmental activists led by National Geographic photographer and later film director, Louie Psihoyos. Psihoyos’s ‘The Cove‘ was largely triggered by the work of former dolphin trainer and now long term dolphin welfare activist Richard O’Barry, who, along with Psihoyos and friends, undertook the investigation and documentation that led to the uncovering of the brutal mass slaughter of bottle nosed dolphins in the Taiji cove. Given the real dangers of undertaking such a project (threat to life, suspicious Japanese government officials, non-cooperative and tailing policemen, angry and potentially violent fishermen,) Psihoyos, O’Barry and team had to roll out a covert military style operation, keeping a low profile, using camouflaged gear and cameras, night vision apparatus, and discreet diving. Read More…

Mikio Naruse: Tabi Yakusha (1940)

With a film directing and writing career spanning over four decades (1930-1968), Mikio Naruse, is certainly one of the lesser known figures of the classical Japanese cinema. An unassuming and socially somewhat withdrawn individual, Naruse’s prolific film output from early to mid twentieth century, saw him engage with a diverse range of themes, while consciously remaining rooted in telling stories of the ‘bleak’ everyday. As Japanese film scholar Donald Richie notes “…given Naruse’s skill, devotion, and honesty, the world he creates through film remains both profoundly troubling and deeply moving.” In ‘Tabi Yakusha‘ (Travelling Actors,1940), Naruse places his protagonists (a pair of artists / actors / ‘clowns’ of a travelling theatre group), Hyoroku (Kamatari Fujiwara) and Senpei (Kan Yanagiya), within the context of a performance in a rural area by the ‘distinguished’ visiting kabuki troupe of ‘Kikugoro VI’. In what is apparently a light comedy, Naruse, manages to engage in existential, absurdist queries (in some ways, Hyoroku and Senpei predates Vladimir and Estragon‘s ‘wait’), while tackling issues of the role of the artist in society, of truth/reality and imitation, of human and animal. Watch.

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Riusuke Fukahori: Of Goldfish, Resin and Paint

Every generation throws up a talent so extraordinary, that the work produced by the artist finds resonance across cultures and peoples. Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, Japan based artist Fukahori invented and innovated a complex technique of poured resin, and layering of acrylic paint, to come up with extraordinary three dimensional life-like ‘sculptures’ of varied goldfish. A graduate of the Aichi Prefectual University of Fine Arts and Music, and an admirer of French impressionist Claude Monet, his work displays a singular focus and extraordinary passion in creating small to large resin-paint ‘sculptures’. The relationship between art and life has been debated for centuries now, and by his admission Fukahori negotiates his identity and his everyday via his thematic obsession with goldfish – an idea, a metaphor, a poem. Take a look.

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Hiroshi Teshigahara: Suna no onna. Japan. 1964

Adapted from Kōbō Abe’s 1962 novel of the same name, ‘Suna no onna’ (translated as ‘The Woman in the Dunes’) is the piercing vision of a remarkable film artist, Hiroshi Teshigahara. Trained in the Japanese traditions of ‘Ikebana’ and classical painting, his turn to cinema was distinctly an aesthetic choice. In ‘Suna no onna’, he translates cinematic frames into canvases for his expression, while telling a story resonating with the myth of Sisyphus, within the existential paradigm set up by authors like Albert Camus, whose work Teshigahara was familiar with. ‘Suna no onna’ is both a brooding and scathing critique of human reasoned argumentation (the man-of-science, the urban man, the man governed by explanations for everything), and an emphatic tribute to the intuitive knowledge of nature, that which is instinctive and intrinsic, that which has not undergone the distortions imposed by human reason. Ultimately, ‘Suna no onna’ transcends itself as a cultural product of early 1960s Japan, to make a universal and specific statement about the human condition. Watch.

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Rotary Yoneyama Research Scholarships for International Students, Japan. 2013

This is for international students scheduled to enroll in April or October 2013 in a Japanese university or graduate school under Japan’s pre-arrival university admission system. “Pre-arrival admission approval” is a system whereby applicants to Japanese universities and graduate schools are allowed to take the entrance examination and apply for admission while in their countries, without having to come to Japan to do so.

Level of Study: Research Degree
Subjects: All

This scholarship program is reserved for people residing abroad who wish to apply for admission in a Japanese university or graduate school. The program’s eligibility requirements are as follows:
(1) Have already chosen the university or graduate school s/he will apply for
(2) Be in the process of applying for admission
(3) For the subject university to have a system for issuing “pre-arrival admission approval.”

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