Why this project?
On July, 30th, 2012, my friend invited me to go to the Meiji Shrine to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Emperor Meiji. To me, the shrine was a place where I can feel more close to others because the location is in the Harajuku neighborhood, where is a major city in Tokyo and also known as the fashion trend hub.
On that special day after the sun went down, the shrine was decorated with thousands of candles. These candles lined the entrance of the shrine and continued through the shrine to the main hall. As I walked deeper into the shrine I started to hear Ohayashi, a traditional Japanese orchestra. When I arrived at the main hall it was filled with a many people. The place was vibrant. I finally managed to walk through the gate, and found 20 dancers wearing black deer masks dancing intensely in the dim light. I was amused but frighten by their appearance.
Their black deer masks with their emblems cover the entire face of the dancers. The long black hair was attached to the costumes nearly reached to the dancer’s waists. The hair waved aggressively as they moved drum rhythm. The dance was intense and the music had a unique rhythm, which was championed by the beat of the Japanese drums tied around each of the dancers stomachs.
There were 7 other folk dance groups, each having their own interesting kimonos and dresses; Shishimai (Deer Dance), Toramai (Tiger Dance), Taueodori (Rice Planting Dance ), Kagura (Sacred Music and Dance) and so on. They came from all over Japan to represent their community and pray for the huge harvest and state of perfect health.
As I stand there watching the acts, I noticed the dancer’s family, local people who may have always been part of the rituals their whole life, the smell of burning wood, and the steam that coming out from the pot that is set up for the rituals. I thought that capturing one moment of acts is not enough to express the true meaning of acts. This is something that people have to participate in and watch with their own eyes.
What is Acts Live on?
Acts Live on is a portrait series of Japanese folk performing arts distributed across Japan.
The traditional acts are inherited by ancestors, reaching back more than a few hundreds years. These traditions have changed very little since the beginning. The performance that shows the way of people’s life are the reflection of their geography, occupation, diet, and human nature. As for mentioning specially, in addition to Shishimai (tiger dance), Kagura (sacred music and dancing performed at shrines), and the Japanese drum which can be called the standard as an entertainment of Japan, festivals and entertainments with the conduct to be concerned with farming are distributed over the country.
The New Year is simulated and plays a process of the rice growing of one year, and an entertainment of the pre-celebration to pray for a good harvest is performed flourishingly and we are realized how the wish to the good harvest of ancient people was acute. These were loved by local people and become a pillar of the local community as inherent culture while it was afraid.
It is unexpectedly not known to a Japanese that most of entertainments to come to such an area are roots to ones registered with UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage as traditional performing arts such as Noh (Japanese classical drama), Kabuki (Japanese classical drama). I photograph these on the black background to explore the fascination of hidden Japanese anthropology and to express craftsmanship involved in the costumes.
What I want to achieve:
Currently, my goal is to let as many people as possible know about the existence of Japanese folk performing arts, and to find people who are interested in my project.