Our Language of Photography
by Bruce Takeo Akizuki
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In July and August of 2000, Community Images traveled to the Higashikawa Photo Fiesta in Higashikawa, Hokkaido, Japan. It was the 16th annual event and is a major photography festival in Japan.
It was our intention to communicate with Japanese people through our style of photography. We believe photography is a universal language everyone can understand . We hoped to begin to understand Japanese people and culture through our trip and experiences.
The main purpose of our trip was to attend the Higashikawa Photo Fiesta. At the festival, our photographs were well received, as well as our slide show presentation. We met many other Japanese and foreign photographers and photography teachers there. Our home stay families in the wonderful town of Higashikawa warmly received us and we had a wonderful time sharing our cultures. In the next few years, we plan to organize a yearly cultural exchange with Higashikawa and San Francisco.
On our second stop, we visited Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan, the hometown of one of my students, Ai Sugano, where we were graciously homestayed at her parents' home. It is one of the first Japanese cities to be opened to foreigners. It has influences from the Russians, British, and Chinese. During our stay some of our students participated in a town play, we visited some temples, enjoyed a hot spring, photographed the Morning Market, viewed fireworks, and were even interviewed by the city newspaper.
Our final destination was Tokyo, that is the biggest metropolitan area in the world with over 30 million people in population. It has the feel of new and old Japan all together with its fast and efficient train system, tall skyscrapers, bustling shopping districts, and its fast pace, as well as traditional temples and shrines and old fashioned shopping districts. During our time there, we traveled to Ueno, Asakusa, and Shibuya districts where we were able to take a glimpse of the new and old in Tokyo.
Overall it was an educational, rewarding, and memorable experience to photograph the country and to meet so many warm and kind hearted people in Japan.
Bruce Akizuki is a free lance photographer and the founder and coordinator of Community Images (CI). CI is an eight year community based photography program in San Francisco.