The title, Hanami |Aoyama 花見青山, refers to the tradition of hanami – literally “flower viewing”, where people gather and celebrate under cherry trees during blossom season, engaging in festive meals and bouts of drinking. Sakura (cherry blossoms), due to their relatively short lifespan, are seen to symbolize the fleeting nature of life, and often planted in cemeteries. This book is set in Aoyama Cemetery, which was a popular destination for such parties. But as the drinking and festivities overwhelmed the peacefulness of the cemetery, parties were outlawed in 2009.
The book takes as a starting point two readings of the homonymous Japanese word ukiyo. The first meaning of ukiyo is "floating world”, utilizing the kanji 浮, for floating. The second reading uses the kanji for sadness and sorrow 憂 to mean “sorrowful world.” Originally used to connote the carefree world of pleasure seekers depicted in Edo and Meiji era woodblock drawings (1603-1912), the two concepts of ukiyo are used here as catalyst to explore the delicate relation between freedom, duty and role-play in society, while examining the politics of identity. Resembling a performance piece, some must maintain the role asked of them, while others are all but happy to abandon theirs.
Immediately after the events of 3/11, the airwaves were inundated with tragic imagery of death and misery. For those of us living here, the terms of life and death had fundamentally shifted. I began to look over the photographs in this series as a way of reflecting on these shifts, and to
re-discover how death gives shape to the meaning of life outside the sphere of the incomprehensible.
The photographs in the book were taken between 2005-2012
HANAMI | AOYAMA 花見青山
NUMBERED & SIGNED EDITION OF 500
WITH A LIMITED EDITION OF 50, SLIPCASED (W PRINT)
187 X 249MM
PUBLISHED JULY 2012