Home for the Holidays / Yorii-za Progress Report
The land of my roots, it's unchangeable in my memory… a reunion with my hometown after three years away.
There it was, that land, that air, and those people.
Tomioka Hachiman Jinja's Autumn Festival. For me that was the very embodiment of a festival, from my childhood, to my teens, and even now as I'm in my late thirties my feelings about the festival haven't changed. My childhood friends who used to be so rebellious are now the ones who are supporting the community, and carrying on the festival.
I think that it's my hometown, and that's how I was able to re-encounter it in this dependable form. This is my hometown that will never go away.
But Shodoshima Island is having serious depopulation problems, and there are barely enough young people left to carry the festival floats… there are even some places on the island where there aren't enough people to do a proper "shashage" where they lift the float up high in the air…
And even so, in the inland region of the island, Onude, a place surrounded by terraced rice fields, the three villages there help each other do the shashage, and I was moved to see three colors of happi coats mix as they lifted their danjiri floats high into the air.
Everything will be OK, because they're here. I felt sliver of reassurance.
What can I do… that was on my mind as I left the island and came back to Kamiyama.
And I went back to Yorii-za where I continued my work of pretentiously stacking up bundles of rice straw on the circular bamboo frame.
Simple work induces circular thoughts. Feelings towards the island, joy at creating my work here, all kinds of feelings getting mushed together, that was when two little faces peeked in from outside…
They'd reach the entrance to the tunnel, take a peek, then scamper away…
Entering a fortress is much more fun when you do it by yourself… that's why I keep the door open.
A few minutes later, those two had brought their four valets, and they entered the fortress.
Girl: "What are you doing here?" "Don't you do anything else?" "Do you live here?"
Girl: "I saw the sign and wanted to come in and see, but I was scared, so brought my brothers."
Girl: "School was over early, so we were just walking around here, and suddenly we saw something interesting, so we thought we'd come in."
Me: "Hee hee hee, I like that kind of stuff too, yeah."
The conversation with the kids was full of little hints and ideas, and I spent some time enjoying their musings.
At Yorii-za, every day is full of valuable encounters all around me.
KAIR2008 ArtistArticles by Rika Aki