“毎日 : Every Day” was exhibited January 4th, 2011 – February 13th, 2011 at the Blue Heron Gallery, Volant, PA.
A photo book based on this exhibit plus limited edition prints are available, please inquire for details.
“毎日 : Every Day”
For the average person, it’s a very rare chance indeed to be able to travel to, let alone live in, a foreign country for any great length of time. For many, it may even be a dream that will never be realized at any point in their lives. For those of us that have been fortunate enough to have had such an experience, the experience itself can often be life-changing on a number of levels, and as a result we come away from our time abroad with a new understanding of ourselves, the world around us, and the people that inhabit it.
My time in Japan was a major turning point in my life in many ways. More than simply a culmination of years of study and effort, it was an experience that remolded who I was, where I was going, and where I would eventually end up. Throughout all of it, I was a keen observer of the country itself and its people on an everyday basis. Continually fascinating, often times frustrating, occasionally heartbreaking, and never, ever boring, it made a mark on my heart that to this day is with me and will be until the day I die.
In selecting the images to be presented in “毎日 : Every Day”, one of the key considerations was that I wanted to show the Japan that I knew and that was not the Japan so often seen by outsiders in typical mass media outlets. This is not the Japan of anime, of manga, nor Hollywood movies. It’s not the Japan of fashionable, ultra-hip Tokyo teens, drift kings, moe moe maids, or J-Pop music culture. Certainly, those aspects exist and form an important part of the country’s overall culture, but they are not the whole of it. Many outsiders never realize this, however, because they simply have never been exposed to any other images or media showing the more personal and intimate side of the country that exists in between the glitz and sparkle. With “毎日 : Every Day”, I am trying to take a step forward to fill that gap, presenting a view of Japan that is real, honest, and true to the country and its citizens.
All of the photos presented in “毎日 : Every Day” were taken by myself during the period from November, 2001 to September, 2003. At the time, I was working and living in the city of Sapporo, on the northern-most island of Hokkaido, as an English teacher with a major commercial school – a profession very commonly held by English-speaking foreigners. My photos were not originally meant to be a documentary project of the country, but instead were simply snapshots of my life there and my surroundings that I wished to remember. Often people denigrate snapshots as a valid form of photography, but the truth, I feel, is that snapshots often offer a very honest and straight-forward representation; one free from the confines and biases that can cloud more deliberate forms of documentary photography.
I have tried to include images not only of many of the people I encountered, but also the land itself, as one is never able to exist independent of the other. And while for some, these images may be entirely familiar and pedestrian, for others I hope they open a door to a new understanding of Japan, its culture, and the people that live it 毎日.
- Eric Mastrangelo, 2010