- A Photo Essay -
Bruce Takeo Akizuki
Visiting Japan with my photography students was my dream fulfilled. The efforts of my friend Haruo Aoki, a professor at Kochi Women's College, and hard work by the Youth Photo Workshop (YPW), made possible to trip to Kochi, Japan in the summer of 1995.
The YPW is a four year program in San Francisco that teaches Asian youth photographic techniques such as photojournalism, portraits, and nature as well as darkroom skills. We are sponsored by the Japantown Art and Media Workshop and supported by the Ansel Adams Center for Photography both in San Francisco.
One of the goals in photographing Japan is to give Americans a broader view of Japan. There is still a lot of misinformation about their people and culture. Another goal is to encourage both Japanese and American people to visit Kochi. It has qualities that other larger cities in Japan don't have. The final reason is to highlight our homestay with Aoki family and their close friends which the Aoki family made possible. A homestay is a wonderful experience everyone should have.
Kochi is a medium size city on the Island of Shikoku that has escaped the tall skyscrapers and congestion of other large Japanese cities. Although it has over 300,000 people, Kochi retains a small town atmosphere. One thing about Kochi is that one easily can travel by car within a hour and really get away to the quiet countryside.
The summers in Kochi are very hot and humid. In spite of the weather, people in Kochi are very friendly and warmhearted. In Kochi you can unlock your door at night and still feel safe. We were surprised immediately by the high prices that are characteristic to Japan, but everything was gift wrapped with better service than our country.
During our stay in Kochi we visited some wonderful attractions such as Kochi Castle, Katsurahama Beach, and Ryugado Cave, but most of trip focused on documenting life in the city. We photographed the tea ceremony, an ikebana class, our camping trip to the mountains near Kochi, the Sunday Market, and everyday street scenes.
We are planning to hold several photographic exhibitions of our trip to Kochi during 1997. Right now our efforts are on fundraising for our photo exhibits. Any donations to our program are appreciated. You can write a check to the Youth Photo Workshop at 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94606. All donations are tax deductable and an acknowledgment will be sent.
Bruce Akizuki was the former assistant editor and a photographer for Unity Magazine. He currently is a freelance photographer and is the foundrer and coordinator of the Youth Workshop.
Published in In Motion Magazine January 11, 1997
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