The photographs were taken in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Landscapes have always fascinated me as an artist, so I was naturally drawn to the dramatic scenery of Hokkaido. The island has been known as “Hokkaido” since 1869 when Japan took over control of this territory. As a result of this, the cultural identities of the groups which inhabited the island, such as the Ainu people, have been absorbed into the broader Japanese nation. Ideas surrounding identity and possession are central themes of these photographs and reflect the turbulent recent history of Hokkaido.
The scenes depict snow covering the entire visible landscape - traffic signs, roads, billboards, old-fashioned and modern housing becomes covered. The names of the majority of settlements in Hokkaido originate from the Ainu language, and few people know their meanings today. There are very few Ainu speakers or historical relics to be found, and the snow is a physical representation of the loss of this culture.
This project is inspired by the book "Henkyo kara nagameru" written by Tessa Morris-Suzuki, a professor of Japanese history. I learnt more about the history of the Ainu culture and Hokkaido from this book than I ever did in school.