Turning Japanese


New Fifth Parallel exhibition highlights acclaimed Japanese photographer’s work

Megan Narsing

Japanese gardens are some of the most beautiful in the world. With their unique and distinct plants and designs one can’t help but be captivated by their beauty. Mizuno Katsushiko is a famed photographer in Japan, having had 140 books published as well as being a member of both the Japan Photographers Association and the Japan Photographic Art Society. The current Fifth Parallel exhibit, Japanese Gardens, focuses on his work with the Kyoto Gardens through out the seasons.

“They usually show student works – it’s actually mostly student works,” commented Takashi Hara, a fifth-year visual arts major and co-organizer of the gallery exhibit. “This is an actual established piece and cultural piece so it’s pretty good for students. The main reason [for this exhibit] wasn’t for us to show those pieces but we really wanted to show any kind of work that the Japan Foundation  had. We wanted students to have a chance to see actual art and cultural things from Japan.”

Professor Tomoko Lamb of the Japanese department teamed together with Takashi Hara, the international languages department and the Japan Foundation to bring this show to the 5th Parallel.

The Japan Foundation is a Japanese non-profit organization that helps promote Japanese culture throughout various nations, including Canada. The prime objective for the Arts and Culture Exchange program that is helping support the Fifth Parallel’s exhibit is to foster an understanding of Japanese arts by providing educational programs for audiences in each touring location. From their office in Toronto, the Japan Foundation carries a number of visual art galleries that can be rented and shipped anywhere in Canada.

With funding from The Japan Foundation and the department of international languages the exhibit was made possible.

“It is a non profit organization. It’s just for the expansion of the education and culture. They do have lots resources that will not cost us very much,” explained Tomoko. “The only cost we had to pay was for the shipment. They paid for it to come one way and our department only pays the returning cost.”

Professor Tomoko explained her reasons for choosing The Japan Foundation as well as the Japanese Gardens exhibit: “They have a beautiful library in Toronto and beautiful resources and the were willing to lend them to us. They have lots of things that can just travel around in Canada. This exhibit [for example] just came back from McGill University in Montreal.”

“First we were thinking about some potteries or ceramics, but again, it comes from Toronto. The boxes would be bigger and it’s kind of fragile so we’d have to put more insurance. That is a little difficult so we decided to do the first series as the Garden’s of Kyoto.” Tomoko explained. “Because he [Katsushiko] was born in Kyoto, his specialization is Kyoto gardens. I thought it was appropriate to have beautiful sceneries because we also have a Kyoto Study Abroad exchange program with the Japanese Program. The students go to Kyoto every year. So it’s appropriate and shows the beauty of the country.”

One of the other main focuses of this gallery was to introduce Japanese culture, language and the department to those who are interested. “Well, our department is of course doing it [putting on the exhibit] and we can see if anyone is interested more in Japanese culture and the language. So we can support their needs and this is a good occasion for that. It’s campus wide and the perfect location!” Tomoko laughed.

Current students of the Japanese program take shifts at the gallery and are happy to answer any of your questions regarding the photographs, the program, or inquires regarding Japanese culture or language. Japanese Gardens opened Feb. 7 and runs to Feb. 25.

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