This exhibition entitled “Two Journeys, One Story” has two different works in common thread. One is “Oshichi”, a work inspired by having encountered a doll modeled from a love story ,’Yaoya Oshichi’, more than 300 years ago. The other , “Starting New Journey”, is created from the days of mourning my mother.
Everyone has the dear departed people in their lives, such as family members, beloved ones or friends. As they are not forgettable, we can’t help recalling them from time to time with mixed feelings – sometimes we get caught up in overwhelming and indescribable vibrations connected to them.
I lost my father in 2009, and my mother 6 years later. I have been captured by a sense of deprivation for almost in ten years. Especially, I have had a heartache for digesting the relation with and influences from my mother. “OSHICHI” and “Starting a New Journey” the two works planned to exhibit this time, have come to the light through days of straggling to face myself left alone.
They are two different stories. The former is composed of pictures mainly in Izumo district, western Japan, and the later is mainly from visiting the sea in northeast Japan.
Looking back those days, I think I was traveling there as if I were a pilgrim, and creating the works as if they were mourning rituals for my parents.
One day, I came across a doll, and instantly got glued on it. ‘Oshichi’, the name of the doll, is pretty famous for the heroine of the story, ‘Yaoya Oshichi’, which is based on the historical fact from the Edo period.
She, a 16-year-old girl, met a guy at a temple where she and her family took shelter as they lost their house in the fire one day. And she felt in love with him. After leaving the temple for the family’s new house, she missed him so much that she started thinking it could be possible for her to see him again if another fire occurred. So she torched her house, hopefully to see him, but she was caught by a police after all. After she was executed by burning, her lover made a pilgrimage throughout the rest of his life.
While I was gazing at the doll, I became to deeply feel how much regret she felt about his later life. With thinking of Oshichi’s crazy love for him, an idea came up with that I should follow his footprints. During the trip, I gave a prayer to him at shrines, temples and enshrined natural objects as he might have done so to Oshichi. I also felt her sorrow that rippled through me.
We often lose our precious things in every aspect of our lives. And we sometimes see someone who grieves for losing their precious things. No matter how we do so what we lose, we can’t get our time back. Even if we hope to live forever, the last day of our lives will come one day for all of us. There is no exception, and that fact never changes. We have to keep it in our mind and carry on living with the sorrow for death on our shoulders.
The sorrow, on the other hand, is inseparably related to love for others. It has a certain power to empathize with people and we achieve a committed relationship with them. By sharing it with others, I think we can move out of our past and step forward to the future. Experiencing sadness makes us grow, and gives us great power to live.
While I was traveling, I felt everything was pure. They were all impressive and every moment I was deeply moved by the scenery. I felt the great nature surrounding us. Through my trip, I have realized we are all alive on the earth with the same fate. Like Oshichi, the last day will come one day but I feel the strong connection with this world. I want to value this bond and will keep on going day by day.
Stating a New Journey
After a long struggle with sickness, my mother passed away. Since then I have made a lot of trips. I have chosen to visit seaside, because I remember what my mother used to say to me before she died. “Michiko, I want to go to the seaside and feel the breeze.” While seeing the horizon way out there, all the memories with her was back to me. We often took a walk together around the open fields in our neighborhood. As she was a good walker, I think she would enjoy walking around the seashore tirelessly. Now, she’s gone and I can’t see and touch her again. However, I feel her all the more because I know that I can never build up the relationship with her any more.
‘Osorezan’, is one of the places I visited, which is located in the northern tip of the Honshu island. This sacred site has lasted over a thousand years. It is known as the place where people can contact with the departed. People who visit there might hold various memories. They try to console their spirits of their loved one by piling up stones and laying flowers. I did the same thing as other people did when I visited there.
In this distinctive landscape, where is really serene, I felt it was the right place to talk with her.What does “mourning for a departed soul” mean? When you lost someone, you might feel that person deep in your mind. And you might recall the relationship and memories of events with them. Whatever they are, even they didn’t work out and had hefty emotions.
People, to each other, are existing others. However, once they die, their materiality become to exist only in someone’s mind. A departed could assimilate into one’s mind, so to speak, and become a part of that person as their memories.I have been asking myself that one’s feelings toward a departed is their internal conflict, and what mourning means is to keep going forward with that conflict.
On realizing it, I felt that I merged with all the memories of my mother rather than living with them.
At the same time, it was strange but the loneliness came up to my mind. I have never felt like that before. It’s sad a little bit but I found the feeling of elation had grown in my mind, too. It is like the feeling before starting a new journey.