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w18.8 x h30 cm
32 Pages
20 Images(color)
Softcover
Full color Offset
First edition
Published in 2018
ISBN 978-4-908512-35-3

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NIPPON Nigata

Naoki Ishikawa (Tokyo, Japan)

I often visited Niigata after my annual visit to the Himalayas. The prefecture of Niigata is enormously expansive; I have only been to Tooka-machi, Tunan-machi, the Okurida district of Murakami, and the Nishi and Nishikan Wards of Niigata City.
  I feel a sense of relief when I see the landscapes of satoyama, villages and hills, common across the Japanese Archipelago. Since I have been to Niigata City many times and taken photographs, I feel at ease there although it is not my hometown.
  In ancient times, the flat area of present-day Niigata City was under water. The Shinano River used to meander toward a small mountain, Mt. Kakuda, not as orderly as it does today. Sand carried by the river from the Japan Sea built up sand dunes at the curves of the river after which lagoons were naturally formed along the river or near the seashore. A lagoon is a body of water where the water of a river or the sea is trapped by accumulated sand.
  People built villages along the naturally built banks. That was probably how the satoyama landscape around Niigata was formed. I assume that the landscape we see today is a result of the coexistence between the newborn lagoons and the people who settled there.
  The natural environment, such as the lagoons and satoyama, makes up the interface of the land and the sea, nature and the man-made, and wilderness and technology. It doesn't divide things as a line does, but is rather a flexible existence that can expand and shrink like a beach. While the nature in extreme environments such as the Himalayas, where few species of wildlife can survive, is too harsh for human being to cope with, the nature of the Japanese Archipelago is more varied, and so receptive and manageable for human beings. I came to think this way probably because of the long amounts of time I have spent in Niigata.
  I experienced several impressive encounters in Niigata as well. Fumio Saito, an elderly resident of the Fukui district of Nishikan Ward, told me about the history and past of the area, which gave me a guide for the future. Saito became an amateur photographer after he met a local historian Yogoemon Ishiyama at the age of 19, and has photographed local landscapes, customs and everyday life for over six decades. Saito, in his mid-80s, actively talks about local folklore to people visiting the Sato Manor House, an old house with a thatched roof, whose preservation he is involved with.
  While traveling around, the landscape suddenly appears different after such encounters with people. Just one event or one conversation can keep the scenes of my travels from fleeting away from me. I am fondly reminded of times when I would soak my body up to my chin in a hot spring in Niigata, reflecting upon all the faraway places I had visited.
Naoki Ishikawa