Miyuki Okuyama

Dear Japanese - MY LAST SEALED COPY!


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"Over three centuries of Dutch rule over Indonesian archipelago gave rise to a population of “Indo”, Dutch-Indonesians. When Japan attacked and occupied the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, in 1942, many Indo males were jailed, leaving their wives and daughters to fend for themselves. Once their fathers, brothers and husbands were imprisoned in the Japanese POW camps, in search of a livelihood, Indo women started to work at Japanese offices, or cafes and restaurants serving the Japanese. This situation led many young women to have relationships with Japanese men. Those Japanese children are the fruits of relationships with Japanese based on love or economic need, while a few were from assaults. Some found out about their Japanese roots when they were around sixty years old, since the truth was often been kept a family secret over the decades.

During the Indonesian National Revolution, the Indo population had to escape to the Netherlands, leaving everything behind. For them, Japan was the enemy who stole their tropical paradise and killed many people. Many half-Japanese children grew up in the hostile atmosphere towards Japan. Also, for their mothers often were married to ex-KNIL soldiers who went through the Japanese POW camps and the harsh forced labor, many Japanese children were raised under the adoptive fathers who were severely distressed. They were traumatized because their existence was taboo, brought shame to their families. 70 years after the war, many of them are still searching for their fathers as an important missing piece of their identities, and are suffering from the lasting psychological effects of difficult childhood.

'Dear Japanese' is a subjective documentary assembled from a personal perspective, recording compatriots abroad. The book consists of portraits, places and landscapes containing associative Japanese elements which often feel displaced within the Dutch environment and next to the Indonesian characteristics of the people involved. It documents the offspring of Japanese soldiers and Indonesian women, born during the Pacific War, now living in the Netherlands.
More than three centuries of Dutch rule over Indonesia archipelago gave rise to a population of “Indo”, Dutch-Indonesians. When Japan attacked and occupied the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1942, many Indo males were jailed, leaving their wives and daughters to fend for themselves. Japanese children were born as the fruits of relationships based on love or economic need, while a few were from sexual assaults. Some found out about their Japanese roots when they were around sixty years old, since the truth was often been kept a family secret.
During the postwar chaos of Indonesian National Revolution, the Indo people had to escape to their unknown homeland, The Netherlands. For them, Japan was the enemy who stole their land and killed many people. Many half-Japanese children grew up in the hostile atmosphere towards Japan. They were traumatized because their existence was taboo, brought shame to their families. Almost 70 years after the war, many of them are still searching for their fathers as an important missing piece of their identities, and are suffering from the lasting psychological effects of difficult childhood.
At the first encounter with the Japanese offspring, their clearly Japanese features surprised Okuyama. Since none of her immediate family members were affected deeply by the war, this became her first tangible war experience. As an immigrant from a former enemy country, Japan, Okuyama could share their pride in being Japanese, coupled with feelings of alienation and guilt." (publisher's note)

About the book
Dear Japanese is a subjective documentary assembled from a personal perspective, recording compatriots abroad. The book consists of portraits, places and landscapes containing associative Japanese elements which often feel displaced within the Dutch environment and next to the Indonesian characteristics of the people involved.

About the photographer (*1973 in Yamagata, Japan):
She graduated from the University of Alabama (US) with a master’s degree in fine art in 2002. Since 2008, she lives and works in Arnhem (NL). Okuyama has exhibited in Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. Her images are often taken with the perspective of an expatriate Japanese, through photographing, she seeks connection to her origin.

"Meine Fotografien sind oft aus der Perspektive einer im Ausland lebenden Japanerin auf genommen. Die letzten 20 Jahre verbrachte ich die meiste Zeit außerhalb meines Heimatlandes Japan. Ich begann mit der Fotografie als ich Japan verließ; dennoch sind meine fotografischen Kreationen tief in meiner Vergangenheit und Kindheit (in Tohoku, im Nordosten von Japan)verwurzelt. Der Weggang von zu Hause war einer meiner wichtigsten Antriebe für die Fotografie; durch die Fotografie suche ich Verbindung zu meiner Herkunft aufzunehmen.

Als ich in meiner neuen Heimat, den Niederlanden, als Reaktion auf die neue Umgebung sesshaft wurde, begann ich mit selbst gemachten Lochkameras zu fotografieren und das Ablichten selbst gebauter Modelle, als Alternativen zur aktuellen Fotografie meiner Heimat. Im Vergleich zu dem wo ich herkomme, einem ländlichen Dorf im Norden Japans, schienen mir die Niederlande gründlich modernisiert und übermäßig organisiert, mit zu wenig Platz für rauhe und improvisierte Orten, um menschliche Emotionen zu nähren. In der Fotografie, habe ich mir alternative Realitäten, geschaffen die mich mit meiner vertrauten Welt und Kindheitserinnerungen verbinden.

Im Jahr 2011 traf ein verheerendes Erdbeben den Norden Japans, verursachte einen Tsunami und die Explosion eines Atomkraftwerks. Zu dieser Zeit zerfiel die Bevölkerung Japans und die Ereignisse in meiner Heimat zeigten mir, dass das Zuhause kein stabiler Ort ist. Diese Ereignisse versetzten meine unschuldige, ahnungslose Idee, dass mein Haus dort für immer sein würde derart unter Schock, dass ich zu der Erkenntnis kam, dass es nicht so bleiben könne es war seit einigen Jahrzehnten immer gewesen ist.
Danach begann ich mit neuen Serien: auf dem Weg von Holland nach Tohoku geschossene Urlaubsfotos mit Zügen und einer Fähre durch Eurasien, um die physische und psychologische Distanz zu meiner eigentlichen Heimat zu bemessen, sowie ein laufendes Projekt, in dem ich meine Heimat fotografiere und das Dorf, das sich langsam ändert im Prozess der Modernisierung.

Zur gleichen Zeit, entschied ich mich schließlich, diejenigen Übriggebliebenen aus dem Pazifik-Krieg zu fotografieren und zu interviewen, die ich in den Niederlanden getroffen hatte, gegen meine Bedenken in der Kriegsgeschichte Japans zu wühlen. Durch die Arbeit an diesen Serie hoffe ich, die mich direkt umgebende Welt aus der Sicht einer Japanerin außerhalb Japans zu erfassen." (M.O.)

Weitere Titel von Miyuki Okyama:
'Land of the Setting Sun' (2015)