My desire to create art comes from my search for the meaning of our existence. I use my artwork as a key to understand others and myself. The most precious thing in my life is the growth process. Art is my guide and mentor....

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wake-up Call


The anti-lockdown demonstration was held in New York city on November 22nd. New York City has been hit hard financially and its damage is immeasurable.Economic disparities are widening, and dividing people's minds. In the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday, Many people spent time away from family and friends for Covid 19.The president-elect is on trial for fraudulent elections, and has not yet been officially decided. Unless this fraud issue is settled and the trust of the government and the people is regained, no matter who becomes president, a bright future of healing and unity will not come. 

The 2020 elections gave me the opportunity to look back on my 26 years of experience in this country and think about why I chose to live in the United States. I realized that this journey was to free me from my own brainwashing. This election became the wake-up call.


Recently, I often recall the last day I returned from Japan to New York. My mother came to the station to see me off. She was watching over me standing on the other side of the station platform until the train arrived. The time of indescribable silence passed until the train arrived and I boarded. The moment the train started moving, I couldn't see my mother waving because of tears. At that time, I foresaw that it might be a long farewell. However I didn't think about covid 19 pandemic at all.


2019 was a busy year and I had a lot of experience, but I didn't have time to digest it. This year, Covid 19 has given me time to explore and think about the various aspects of past events. Biased coverage of mainstream media is terrible, and SNS censorship and information control violate American Freedom speech. While listening to the voice from my heart’s what kind of world I want to live in, and I am gazing at what is happening in the world right now.


Rewind Time: Return to Japan 2  (11/27/2018-1/7/2019)



When I asked my mother what she wanted for her 80th birthday, she told me she wanted to spend the New Year with me. Therefore, I had the New Year 2019 in Japan for the first time in 24 years.


My mother enjoyed her life by volunteering with friends to visit the Elderly Housing to perform dances and songs. After being banned from going out due to Covid19, she spent her time at home decluttering unnecessary things at the house, growing vegetables at the garden, and taking care of my father who had dementia. She has always lived her life brightly and with fun. Thanks to my sister who presented the smartphone to mother.I was able to fill in the time and distance to talk face to face with her.


This stay in Japan began with news of my niece's pregnancy and ended with the news of my uncle's death. I had been Thinking about life and death, and fascinated by the beauty of the starry sky seen from the window on the second floor of my parents' bedroom, and had felt the time due to the ebb and flow of the moon. 


Fukushima Children's Exposure Trial



When I saw the flyer with the word "Ran away" and butterflies and sky design, I felt the commonality with the theme of my work, and felt the inevitability of coming here. Before the Fukushima Children's Exposure Trial began, I handed out the flyers in front of Fukushima Station. It was a surreal moment, and I had the illusion of participating in an art performance.



In 2016, I met Ayako, who was organizing thyroid cancer screening for children in Yaita City and Shioya Town, which were the candidates for a nuclear waste treatment plant at my first time exhibition in my hometown. I heard from her that there is a group that is gathering citizens' voices to make a law to help those exposed in the 311 Fukushima nuclear disaster, and she asked me to join the group of  “Chernobyl Law Japanese Version”. Since then, I've been on their mailing list. 


I went to the children exposure trial in Fukushima and met members of the group, Toshio Yanagihara, an attorney for this trial and Toshiko Okada, an anti-nuclear activist. I was able to talk with Kiyoko Mito, the co-representative, and Sumio Konno, the representative of the plaintiffs. It was an important experience to get information directly from the parties and supporters of this issue.



The Fukushima Children's Exposure Trial, which began in August 2014, has been around for a long time, and the decision was set on March 1, 2021. On the way to the Fukushima court by taking a train, I reconfirmed that my parents' house was close to Fukushima. Next year will be 10 years since the Fukushima accident. Contrary to the fading memory of radiation damage, it still exists and is eroding our bodies. Contrary to the fading memory of radiation damage, it still exists and is contaminating our bodies.


Takagi School 20th Anniversary



For the past few years, every time I return to Japan,  I have learned about nuclear issues by participating in civic lectures by Takagi School.Takagi School was founded in 1998 with the aim of developing "citizen scientists" based on the Right Livelihood Award, which was awarded to anti-nuclear scientist and activist Jinzaburo Takagi before he died of cancer.



In commemoration of the 20th anniversary, there was an event by people who knew Jinzaburo Takagi. I felt that many people inherited his ideas. Guest speaker Arthur Binard talked about nuclear brainwashing under the title "Christmas Gifts from Reactors” while giving the audience an American candy called "Atomic Fireball”. How to convey own thoughts to others is an important issue to deepen mutual understanding. For that purpose, it is necessary to grasp things from multiple directions and convey others in an easy-to-understand and unique way. I thought the key is how to incorporate humanity elements to the topic of science.


Tokorozawa Peace Movement Citizens Group 



In 2015, I met Kohei Numao, a clinical psychologist at the support meeting for the Idogawa trial, which is one of the Fukushima exposure lawsuits. He has been organizing a citizen peace group in Tokorozawa, Saitama. We learned there are common concerns and goal. Every time I returned to Japan, I was given the opportunity to report on my overseas activities at Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture.


Saitama is familiar to me because I spent my childhood in the place where I was born. It was heartwarming to interact with people who understand and support activities that seek to raise awareness of social issues through art. There is  a communication base of the US Air Force near the Aviation Memorial Park at Tokorozawa. Therefore, many residents are highly conscious of peace and are enthusiastic about civic activities.



Takashi Kamogawa, who is the organizer of this area, has a partner, Tamiko, who is from Okinawa. They support the movement against US military bases in Okinawa. Taminko's mother, Takeko who died, was an avid activist. When I heard Tamiko talk about her mother's life, her words reminded me of the Okinawan protesters I met. I felt that the spirit of Okinawa, which protects the dignity of life, is passed down from parents to children through deep love.


"Is it true we are on the road to a war country again ?”


Tuesday December 18, 2018  13: 30-16: 30

Shin-Tokorozawa Community center


"March 1st Movement 100th anniversary" 

CHOI Seungkoo: Japan-Korea, Korea-Japan anti-nuclear peace solidarity secretary general 


Human experimentation of Unit 731 in Biological Warfare

Fuyuko Nishizato: journalist, former German national broadcaster ZDF producer


The US military base in Asia.

Yasuyo Tanaka: Social Practice Artist, Educator



After the event, we ate and interacted with each other. That night, I stayed at the house of Teruko Usami, a war-experienced person, and learned about her experience she transformed from military girl to a peace activist. Being an honor student and a serious girl, she was swallowed by a wave of totalitarianism in the wartime propaganda. 



Our way of thinking is greatly influenced by what kind of information we have. It is important not to be dominated by information, but to actively investigate and disseminate information. Education that cultivates the sensibility and ability to clarify awareness and express own opinion is indispensable.


Make Fuchu an artistic City



Fuchu City, which prospered as a post town centered on shrines, is a calm residential area that left the tradition of Japan. A little far from the center of Fuchu Station, there are the USFJ Fuchu Communications Station managed by the US Air Force, and Fuchu Prison. Fuchu is a multifaceted and interesting city.



For the past few years, "Fuchu Art Festival for living and expression" has been held around Fuchu Station. It has been opening up public markets, shops, restaurants, offices and private houses to display art and hold events.



I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in a three-person exhibition at Gallery Do Do, which introduces contemporary art in Fuchu city. In a unique and attractive exhibition space, I installed works with the theme of keys and houses. Thanks to the gallery owner Tuneo Arase, viewers, and participating artists Naoko and Hideyuki, it was a very nice experience.


In Covid19, the meaning and necessity of the existence of a place is questioned.The work is completed by time, space and people. Even the same work continues to change and grow.



Three persons show: 

Hideyuki Kidawara, Naoko Hobayashi, Yasuyo Tanaka

Saturday December 8 - Monday 24

12: 00-18: 00 Closed on Monday 10th and 17th

Gallery Do Do


Yaita City Local activities



At the Yaita City library, I selected photographs related to my independent research on nuclear issues and related books, and exhibited together.


I happened to find the book In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age by Stephanie Cooke, which I read shortly after 311. Inspired by the hidden information that is one of the themes of this book, I began to investigate the nuclear issue myself. When I was able to see the connections of events happening here and there, I  reached at  hidden information.Two years later, I'm starting to understand what it is as the US presidential election continues.


At the talk event, I introduced examples of overseas cities'  activities using PowerPoint, and discussed with the participants what kind of city they would like to live in and how to realize their wishes. Around this time, I began to think that creating an environment in which I wanted to live was an art in itself.



"Beyond time and space" Exhibition

Tuesday, December 4- Sunday, January 6, 

10: 00-20: 00, last day until 17:00

Yaita City Library Front Lobby


“Creating a Town” Artist Talk

Yasuyo Tanaka

Sunday January 6 

14: 00 ~ 16: 00

Yaita City Library Audiovisual Room


“Discover Tochigi” Exhibition

Saturday December 22 - Monday January 14  

9: 30 ~ 16: 00

Road station Yaita Eco model house”


“Wish Card Making” Workshop

Monday December 24 10: 30 ~ 15: 00

Discovering Sophia's Treasure Mountain Orienteering

Cocomachi 2F Children's Plaza JR Yaita Station East Exit



This year's return to Japan has been canceled by Covid 19, and I feel that the world is undergoing major changes. Many artists have left New York City due to the closure of museums, galleries, and theaters. 


Since 2015, my 16 prints had been exhibited at the Asian language school "Hills Learning" in Midtown. However It closed due to Covid 19, and shifted to only online classes. Last month I brought my works back to my apartment.










Friday, October 30, 2020

Rewind Time: Return to Japan 1 (11/27/2018-1/7/2019)

 

In early 2020, shortly after I started writing my blog for the first time in a long time, suddenly, various problems occurred around me. I has been working on whereabouts issues, including renewing my green card, and spending time reviewing my life.


Covid-19 was also one of the negative chains. However the time when all my schedules were canceled by the lockdown of covid-19, allowed me to spend time solving other problems. Moreover, I was tired from last year's trip, so I was able to take a rest and healed with the nature revived by the lockdown.



During this period, while preparing my own environment and looking back on my past, I have been searching for the connection with myself. I have been returning to Japan every year to meet my elderly parents since 2012. However, covid-19 makes it difficult for me to return to Japan. From the time of the end of November 2018 when I last returned to Japan, I will update the blog. 


Return to Japan  

(November 27 2018 - January 7 2019)


Osaka 



After arriving at Narita from New York, I took a rest in a public bath called Mannenyu in Shinjuku Korean town and headed to Osaka by night bus.


I visited my friend, Ushi, living in Osaka where it is currently a hot topic in the face of voting for the Osaka Metropolis Plan. He prepared bicycles and we cycled around the city of Osaka. It was the most effective way to get to know Osaka in a short period of time. 


He introduced me his favorite bar, "Hana," which had a nostalgic atmosphere. It also became my favorite bar. We always stopped by Hana on our way home, and had fun and talked with the locals. 


Nishinari



Kamagasaki is an area where day laborers who supported Japanese economic miracle period are living and its aging is progressing. I met a paper painter, Yutaka Kirino who woke up to expression at Kamagasaki University of the Arts. He used to be a day laborer.


The local Tamade supermarket selling cheap food, sex shops, homeless people living in tent of the park, small bars and old houses, still retained the scenery of Japan a long time ago.



In the changing town, Kamagasaki University of the Arts for citizens has been providing unique programs to everyone . Their activities have been inspiring the community through art. 


During my stay, I participated in their event to learn about the recent situation of the city in Nishinari district. Due to the low price, the number of foreign tourists increased, and not only Japanese companies but also Chinese hotels and karaoke bars were newly opened. 



The participants listened to a friendly Chinese owner’s talk. He bought many places in cash and showed us the new hotel “TM-House”. At that time, I remembered the story I heard that some Chinese were buying land in Hokkaido.


I think the current situation in the United States, where the problems of the Chinese Communist Party's global expansion of power and the suppression of human rights have surfaced, started also a long time ago in many countries including Japan.



I saw the old houses demolished and felt this town has been changing. I strongly felt that the whereabouts of people were threatened.

We visited the "Kodomo no sato" and "Sanno Children's Center" of the Welfare Children's Center. Locals have been providing places where children can rest assured. They have been supporting people who have nowhere to go or who have no purpose to live. 


I saw the old houses demolished and felt this town has been changing. I strongly felt that the whereabouts of people were threatened.


We visited the “Children’s native place" and "Sanno Children's Center" of the Welfare Children's Center. Locals have been providing places where children can rest assured. They have been supporting people who have nowhere to go or who have no purpose to live. 


Moritomo Gakuen 



Moritomo Gakuen, which was a major event that shook the Diet in Toyonaka City, Osaka, was surrounded by a fence with a sign of state-owned land.


At that time, the Moritomo scandal had developed into a resignation issue due to the involvement of Prime Minister Abe and his wife. It started with brainwashing education using the Imperial Rescript on Education, falsification of official documents of the Ministry of Finance in illegal land transactions, suicide of an employee who was forced to tamper, etc. that remains unresolved to the present.



The Kagoike couple who founded the school were imprisoned, but were released and are on trial. Although the prime Minister Abe has already resigned due to illness, this case was an important event concerning the future of Japan, where the lies and corruption of the government and bureaucrats should be revealed.


We are in a weird society that honest, conscientious and kind people are hard to live in. I am thinking about the meaning of our lives with the darkness of modern society that 99% of suicides are homicides.


Jeju 4/3 Victims Memorial Monument



Many Korean live in Osaka, and there are Korean towns in Ikuno and Tsurumi. During the Japanese colonial era, many Korean Jeju islanders moved to Japan, mainly in Osaka.


The Jeju uprising occurred on Jeju Island in South Korea from April 1948 to May 1949. The massacre of the islanders in the process was a long-hidden history of tragedy. I learned about this unknown history of South Korea in a film "The Ghosts of Jeju" by American director Regis Tremblay. I met the director at the premiere screening in NY and then screened his film at the galleries in the Netherlands and Japan. I participated in the Jeju Peace Festival jointly held by Japan and South Korea in 2014 and visited the site.



The monument to the victims of the Jeju massacre was erected on November 18, 2018 at Toukoku Temple in Osaka. I went to pray there and was surprised to see the pebbles with the village names lined up.


I remembered when I hiked in a small mountain on Jeju Island, I picked up and brought back a pebble because I thought that the islanders might have been slaughtered here. Looking at the pebbles, I was thinking about what I could do to find out the hidden facts and regain the truth.


Atelier Sennan Asbestos Museum


I went to see the New York premiere of the movie "Sennan Asbestos Disaster" directed by Kazuo Hara. It is a documentary film that shooted the process of lawsuits against the state by employees and neighbors who suffered from asbestos health problems. I thought one of the important themes of this movie was the time. The film, in which many plaintiffs died during a protracted trial, became a record of their own lives. The time itself, such as 8 years of film production and 215 minutes of screening time, shows the complexity of solving problems of public pollution.


Coincidentally, on Thursday morning, July 19, 2018, three days before the screening, a steam pipe exploded under a street in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, produced smoke containing asbestos. Through this incident, we were made aware that the asbestos problem is not over yet and it is our own problem.



I met Mr. Kazuyoshi Yuzuoka, one of the plaintiffs of the asbestos trial, at the screening in New York city, and four months later, I visited him in Sennan City to hear his story. He told me that all the plaintiffs distributed the compensation that won the case without objection, and partially donated to help and eradicate all asbestos victims around the world from Sennan.


At the 5th anniversary ceremony of the "Sennan Asbestos Monument" on Saturday, April 20, 2019, "Atelier Sennan Asbestos Museum" was established to convey the damage to asbestos to posterity. It is exhibited on  the relics of Dr. Masaru Kajimoto, who has been complaining about the danger of asbestos locally from early on, and the records of the Osaka Sennan Asbestos State Redress Proceedings. I recall the time when Dr. Kajimoto's eldest son, Mr. Itsuo, and Mr. and Mrs. Yuzuoka spoke in front of the monument next to the memorial museum under construction. I hope to visit  them and see the museum.


Osaka Citizen activities 



I met my friend Ushi in Okinawa. I participated in a regular rally in front of Osaka Station protesting the construction of a US military base in Okinawa. It was very impressive that men and women wearing cute aprons handed out the leaflets while raising colorful handmade patchwork burners. They were doing what they could and were bright and lively. 



I was particularly encouraged by the strong presence of Masayo Furui with her big smile despite the inconvenience of wheelchairs. Somehow I remembered the movie "Goodbye PC" by Kazuo Hara and told her about it. She answered that she was appearing in this film.  People who realize the meaning of their lives, and challenge their potencial are  powerful and beautiful.


While listening to the word "new normal" after Covid 19,  I have been thinking that I want to protect what is likely to be lost. I felt it might be a smile. It was a meaningful trip to Osaka that gave me a lot of homeworks for the future. It's time to find the answer.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The beginning of a journey to know the US and Myself


It had been busy traveling since the fall of 2018, and more than one year has passed without writing a blog. I visited many places where I wanted to go for a long time, and had interesting experiences. There were some connection for my next step. Looking back on this period, I am questioning myself what I really want to do. In order to find the answer, I decided to write blogs since October 2018. 



It was my first trip to Colorado and Arizona, and the beginning of a trip to know the United States. On this journey, I realized that I was an immigrant to the United States, and I was able to find out about the United States that is invisible to urban life in New York City.

VOICE: A CELEBRATION OF REFUGEE STORIES


In retrospect, it began with meeting Melissa who was a resident of Colorado and participated my printmaking workshop in New York City. We had a lot in common and soon became friends. With her introduction, I went to the New York Film Festival to watch her friend's documentary film "Sauti". It was very inspiring movie that shows five refugee girls' stories of their dreams, efforts and growing process. I met the director, Gayle Nosal and the performer Favorite Regina after screening.They came to see my work next day and decided to exhibit my works at their exhibition in Denver and to invite me to Colorado.


It was a collaborative exhibition by Edge Gallery, and NeeNee Production which produced the movie “Sauti. The exhibition “VOICE: A CELEBRATION OF REFUGEE STORIES” featured works focusing on topics related to refugee, immigrant experiences and migration. At the opening, I was able to hear the refugee experience directly from young artists of Africa and the Middle East. I was impressed that their expression was not only a relief from trauma but also empower to their lives.


The screening of "Sauti" and panel discussion were a great success. By filming over the years, The trust relationship that had been fostered between the filmmakers and five girls was reflected on the screen. It seemed to be a key to solving the refugee issues. There was lively discussion and Q & A with the audience by participating refugee artists, and representative of a non-profit organization on refugees, the director, Gayle and Favorite who came from Rwanda.

Rocky Flats: Nuclear Weapons Plant


Merissa organized my workshop and artist talk at Boulder Creative Collective. It was a pleasure to meet and be able to connect with local artists. Living in Boulder, surrounded by beautiful mountains, reminds us that humans are part of nature. However, due to its beauty, the problem of contamination is forgotten and obscured. 


Around this area, there was a facility called Rocky Flats Plant, that manufactured nuclear weapons (especially detonators), was designated from 1952 until its shutdown in 1992. In the 1990s, the first demolition of nuclear facilities began, and serious nuclear contamination was revealed. Gayle drove me to Northwest Gate in Rocky Flats. On a vast site, I was able to see old building emitting smoke, trace of rail and a sign of natural gas pipeline. In 2018, Metropolitan State University of Denver declined to further participate in the Downwinders' health survey. There were also new houses nearby, indicating that many people did not know the fact. 


In August 2019, soil sampling test outside the former Rocky Flats Plant near Indiana Street was five times higher plutonium than acceptable. After that, New Rocky Flats soil tests showed  low radioactivity. After this, New Rocky Flats soil tests showed low adioactivity. Colorado officials announced Rocky Flats showed safe plutonium levels. Most importantly, the news has exposed Rocky Flat’s radiation issues and its history to people who don't know. Colorado also has natural radiation. Colorado also has natural radiation. My geiger counter measured some places more than 0.2μSv/hr that is considered hotspots.

Amache: Japanese Concentration Camp


During the second world war in Colorado, there was also a concentration camp “Amache” of Japanese-American and Japanese immigrant that set up in August 1942. Although I couldn't visited "Amache" this time, I had a chance to hear from a researcher who are currently excavating "Amache" and see the excavated goods, as the camp was demolished shortly after the war. 


I was also able to hear valuable stories from Japanese American Marge Taniwaki who was detained shortly after birth in Manzanar, California. I thought her longing for Japan became very strong because of her Japanese parents and the oppressed camp life. 


In her daily life, she has been watching Japanese TV programs and eating Japanese food. She couldn't speak Japanese. However I felt her good old Japanese heart, such a kindness and courtesy to others. It was a time when many parents did not teach their Japanese to children as  they are not discriminated against by being Japanese. Her identity as a Japanese has not been lost when she was born and raised in the United States. On the contrary, her experience in concentration camps led to her strengthening her Japanese identity. Meeting with her gave me an opportunity to think about living in the United States as a Japanese.

Bisbee: Visible Connections from the border


After Colorado, I visited my artist friends Sanae and Orin in Bisbee where was on the border of Arizona and Mexico. I have been interested in Arizona. In 2010, I created an artwork titled "Letters from Seattle" and participated in an exhibition protesting Arizona's new anti-immigration law. Arizona is one of the states with Four Corners in the indigenous settlements of Navajo. The boundaries shown on the map are not drawn by indigenous people. 


Coincidentally I was able to watch the movie "Bisbee '17" which was just released before going to my trip. This movie became an important guide and inspired me. 100 years ago,1,200 migrant miners and officials who demonstrated of Improving working conditions in harsh mines, opposition to discrimination against migrant workers, and protest to the World War 1, were deported in Bisbee. 


In the movie, local people played and collaborated to recreate the events that took place in the town, while closely following the feelings of the people at the time. The movie documented the process of reproducing this incident with locals as a 100th anniversary event. In the movie, it was filming the process of local people recreating this incident as a 100th anniversary event. I was able to meet a local artist Laurie who was one of the performers, and hear about her experience being in the movie. 


While researching about the copper mine locally, I got information that a mining engineer, Takeo Shikamura who came from Japan and lived in Bisbee before world war 2. Coincidentally, there is Ashio Copper Mine in my home prefecture in Japan. It was the starting point of Japanese public pollution, and the residents and miners have appealed to the government for environmental issues for the first time in Japan. At the border of Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, and Ibaraki prefectures, Yanaka Village, which was the base of this pollution movement, was forcibly abolished in 1906, and Watarase Reservoir for mineral deposition was set up. The people who have lost their homes due to the contaminated lands have been sent to the frigid, Saroma, Hokkaido as pioneering immigrants. 


I walked through the town of Bisbee, remembering when I visited Ashio one year ago at the same time. I felt synchronicity in a nostalgic landscape that seemed to drawn into the past. I imagined that deported workers and a Japanese engineer, Takeo Shikamura who worked at the copper mine were also walking along this same path. There is a landscape that can be seen if you connect the points scattered beyond time and place. I thought here might be contaminated and measured it with my geiger counter. It was displayed 0.23μSv / hr.