Communing with the spirits at Japan's Mount Fear - Design Bureau

Hell 1

Picture 1 of 10

Photo: Takahiro Kaneyama



Communing with the spirits at Japan’s Mount Fear

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

In June of 2011, Takahiro Kaneyama travelled to the Iwate prefecture on the northeast coast of Japan, the area struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in March 2011, for a New York Times Magazine photo assignment. The photographer, distressed by the tragic destruction he saw, extended his trip to visit his great uncle in the Aomori prefecture but also to stop at Osore-zan (Mt. Osore), among Japan's holiest places. One of three holy mountains in Japan and an active volcano, many Japanese are taught that it is a passageway to the afterlife (the name translates to "Mount Fear") and therefore regard it as an entrance to hell. Many Japanese visit Osore to console the souls of the dead. The pinwheels on the beach are placed for children who have passed away–and they emit an intense screeching sound as the wind passes through them. Some believe Osore to be a place where one can meet souls of departed ancestors. Kaneyama believed he had cause to be there. His images show both the dark and light—the forbidding and the joyful aspects of what is clearly a moving, spiritual place.

This exhibition, seven photos plus video display, is accompanied by a 40-page self-published photo book (available through the gallery) which illustrates all 7 images in the exhibition as well as other images from Shades of the Departed series. 

Shades of the Departed is on view from March 15 through April 21, 2012, with an opening reception on Thursday, March 15, 6pm–8pm at MIYAKO YOSHINAGA art prospects, 547 West 27th Street, 2nd Floor, NYC 10001. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm.



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