Around 10 years ago, I had a chance to move to Hachinohe in Aomori prefecture and live there for a while. I heard various stories about the local area where I lived, particularly about the Matsuri (Japanese traditional festivals). Festivals originated in ancient times and tradition as an effective way to connect with the land. Almost inevitably, I was drawn to the Matsuri and to the traditions which are concerned with land as the central theme in my photography. One day, one moment, as I watched the “Shishimai” (Lion Dance) at an old shrine in Hachinohe, I felt as though I had returned to ancient times. That experience was rather difficult to express in words, the unknown, strange feeling that went to my core. After I finished shooting in Tohoku, I went back to Kanto, and then moved to Ise in Mie prefecture,and kept on shooting.

“When something begins”—— In ancient days, when human beings first appeared, they saw or felt visible or invisible borders on the surface of the landscape, rocks, trees, the water and so on. Would that be different from the unknown, strange feeling I had? While I was moving from one place on to another, I had a feeling, perhaps I should call it the “spirit of the land”, that I was impelled by the spirit of the land as I moved from place to place. Wherever I went I felt a cosmology in which the sky and the land would be connected and unified through the medium of my flesh. That feeling overlay the unknown sensations that came to me as I watched the Shishimai dance. I think that the forces of these sensations determine the moment when I press the camera shutter. My happiness is complete if I am able to express these unknown feelings through printing these photographs.

ーTatsuya Shimohira

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