In the words of the artist:
Every September 23rd in Japan, the sun crosses the celestial equator from the northern hemisphere into the southern hemisphere. It is one of two days a year that the lengths of day and night are exactly the same. The day is a national public holiday in Japan and is known as ‘Shubun no Hi’ (秋分の日) or in English, ‘The Autumnal Equinox’.
The changing of seasons are key points in the cycle of life in nature, and within this cycle, many ancient cultures perceive a powerful message for humanity and honor the day respectively. My personal favorite instance would be the Maya of Central America, who built dedicated monuments such as the step pyramid ‘Temple of Kukulcan’ in Chichen Itza, Mexico. Only visible during one of the two equinox days a year when the sun hits the temple at the perfect angle, a shadow that mimics the shape their feathered serpent god ‘descends’ down the sidewalls of the pyramid stone steps. It is believed that the light from the heaven came down to the earth, and the light from the serpent contributed to making the ground fertile and announcing a new life cycle.
While the autumnal equinox traditionally is a time of harvest where people celebrate all that has come to fruition in the bright light of summer, it also symbolizes the point of diminishing sunlight. A point where the days become shorter and night draws longer as the darkness of winter approach.
Simplifying it all, ‘Shubun No Hi’ on September 23rd directly marks the transition from summer to autumn. It is also the day that I was born.
I moved to Japan as a child with my family in 1990 and spent the bulk of the 90s and early 2000s growing up there (albeit with a 4-year gap in the mid ’90s living in Hong Kong). This non-native, transplant upbringing is what formed my ‘third culture’ identity and I’m certain even more people in today’s rapidly changing world identify with it as well. People always ask me what it was like to grow up in Japan and I never know how to give them an answer that gives the question justice. While it’s difficult to fully explain all sides of what it is was like for me growing up in Japan, I will say that I cherish every detail of it greatly, whether good or bad.
One such detail is my going with my mother to the local photo lab weekly to pick up her developed rolls of 35mm film and printed photos. While the photos can simply be seen as snapshots of family and friends, to an always curious child like myself they provided hours of wonder, long past the car ride home from the photo lab. As a dedication to those moments and tribute to those memories, for this book I decided to recreate one of the paper photo albums the labs would include free with the prints that my mother would receive. That recreated photo album is what you are currently holding in your hands.
During September and October of 2016, I shot these photos as I left my 20s and turned 30 years old. These photos are a culmination of all the emotions that I felt that trip, equally dark and light just like the equinox. Unknown to me at the time but it was also my last time I would ever spend at a family home in Japan, as my father retired and left Tokyo shortly after. It was a strange and unexpected good bye to that era of attachment to Japan and my carefree 20s. But optimistically, and in perfect timing with the seasons changing, I know it was also a necessary transformation into the next cycle of life. Next chapter.
Format: Softcover, 54 pages, 99 images
Full Title: ’55 Minute Speed Print’ Book
Publication Date: 2019