Island Kaleidoscope / Japan / Akiko Nakayama

Short info of Artist

Akiko Nakayama Born in 1988, is a painter who depicts beauty to convey energy metamorphosis through several media such as installation, photos and performance. Combining the energy of movement and the vibrance of colors, Akiko Nakayama brings pictures to life. Called “Alive Painting”, Akiko depicts the resonance between shapes and textures by using different types of liquids, each with a unique characteristic.

In recent years, She is energetically engaged giving her performance “Alive Painting” SOLO & Collaborations in various cities. Solo Performance for New ARS ELECTRONICA (2019) Austria Linz, TEDxHaneda (2015) Tokyo , DLECTRICITY ART FESTIVAL (2017) USA Detroit, LAB30 Media Art Festival (2018) Augsburg, TECHNARTE Art and Technology (2019) Bilbao Spain, MUTEK Montreal 2019.




We island nations have the shape of a country with the waterside of the sea as the boundary. In Japan, the world of the sea, which is the boundary, sometimes has been imagined as an imaginary world.

The three stories are almost fantasy, but the former “different world” can be said to be a story between “fantasy and the cultural influences of neighboring countries” and “dreams and science.”

BOUNDARY

It is a story of “Tango Fudoki” created in the 8th century, “Otogi-zoshi” compiled in the 14th century, and “Urashima Taro” appearing in both. We island nations have the shape of a country with the waterside of the sea as the boundary. In Japan, the world of the sea, which is the boundary, sometimes has been imagined as an imaginary world. It is believed that the “Legend of the Ryugu” was formed by being inspired by the culture and architecture of China and Korea, which were familiar “other worlds” at that time.

(Urashima Taro 浦島太郎)
Once upon a time, a young fisherman named Urashima-Taro and his mother and father lived there. One day, Urashima-Taro was fishing when he noticed a group of children torturing a small turtle. Urashima-Taro saved it and let it go back to the sea.

The next day, a giant turtle approached him and told him that the small turtle he had saved was the princess of the sea named Otohime. The turtle brought him to the bottom of the sea, to the Palace of the Dragon Palace (Ryūgū-jō).

He met the emperor and the small turtle, who was now a lovely princess, Otohime.

The princess says, “This is a place called Dragon Palace, and the surroundings of this house bloomed with plants of the four seasons. Please come in here. Let me show you.” When the princess opened the north, south, east, and west windows, flowers of different seasons were in full bloom. And every day and every night in the palace, every fish danced, which was the most beautiful scenery he had ever seen.

Urashima-Taro enjoyed himself very much in the Dragon Palace.

A year later, Taro suddenly thought of his old mother and father.

By that time, Taro and the princess were married, but Taro told her that he wanted to go home to see his parents. Taro said, “only 30 days”, but the princess was crying. “Love will continue into the next world, so even if this world is a fantasy ephemeral, please be sure to be reborn so that we can meet again. “

The princess wished him well and gave him a mysterious box called Tamatebako which she told him never to open.

When he went home, everything had changed. His home was gone, his mother had vanished, and the people he knew were nowhere to see. So he went to the people in the neighborhood and asked about the house he used to live in.

“Urashima-Taro? I‘ve heard that this person lived in this village 300 years ago, but he went out to the beach one day and never returned.” He discovers that 300 years have passed since the day he left for the bottom of the sea. Urashima-Taro felt so sad and lonely. He sadly went back to the beach and sat on the sand.

He looked down and opened the box in his hand that he had been told: “not to open.”

Just at that moment, White smoke came out of the box. Urashima-Taro, who saw the white smoke, suddenly became a gray-haired, wrinkle-faced, hunchbacked older man.

The present stored in the box was “Taro’s time.”

After his life as a human being, Taro was reborn as a crane, reunited with the princess, and flew To the land of Horai over there.

SKY

It is a story from “Otogi-zoshi” compiled in the 14th century. This is an old tale of the sky until the Milky Way was created. Also, In China, Greece, Finland, etc., there are love stories of the stars related to the Milky Way, which is very interesting. Similarly, in Story2, there is an action of “opening the box” in essential scenes in Story1. In Japanese, “open” and “dawn” are pronounced the same as “Akeru.”

I think that “the action of opening the box” bears the symbol of “the dream awakens.”

(Amewakahiko-zosi 天稚彦草子)
あめわかひこぞうし
Once upon a time, there was a wealthy daimyo’s house. And three beautiful daughters were living in the house with their father. One day, as the retainer was doing the laundry, a giant snake appeared from the sea, spitting out a letter from his mouth and telling him to deliver it to his master.

The letter said he wanted to marry a princess. When the father told the three daughters about the situation, the eldest daughter and the second daughter refused, but the kind-hearted youngest daughter accepted the offer to marry.

“My dad’s life is more important than anything else. I will go.” The father was sorrowful and kept crying and crying, but the promised day had come. The family built a pier about 30m near the river which the snake designated, where the princess was frightened and waited.

Suddenly, in the middle of the night, a storm broke out, lightning flashed, and a massive water wave came up. Then a serpent as enormous as the pier appeared and said, “Don’t be afraid of me. Please cut off my head.” 

The princess cut off a little of the snake’s head with a small pair of scissors, and the snake turned into a beautiful man. He put the serpent’s skin together and placed it in a box with a lid, sat down next to the princess, and began to talk about each other.

The intelligent Ame-no-wakahiko and the gentle princess were attracted to each other. The two became a close couple day by day, and they were happy without any inconvenience. 

One day, Ame-no-Wakahiko said, “I am the king of the sea dragon, and I have to leave for the sky for things to do. If I do not return after 7, 27, 37 days, I may not be able to return anymore. .” 

The princess became sad and asked him, “What should I do if that happens?” he answered, “There is something in the west that has a “Big dipper overnight,” so you used it to rise to the sky and ask the stars of the location of “Amewa Kamiko.”

And before he went out, Amewakahiko handed a wood box called “Karabithsu” to her and said, “If you open this, I’ll be gone forever.”

One day, two princess sisters came to visit this house. They were jealous of her life, so they looked around and finally found a box that shouldn’t open. The princess refused violently, but her two sisters found the key that the princess had hidden and forcibly opened it. They look into it, but there is nothing inside. However, black smoke rose into the void.

The Princess waited for 37 days, but the man didn’t come back, so she decided to go to the “Big dipper” and climb the sky. The princess rose into the sky and asked the stars on the way, Venus, comet, and Subaru, “Where is Ame-no-wakamiko?” As she went deeper into the galaxy, a person on Wheelless vehicles passed by and told her that He was in the land of lapis lazuli.

She finally reunites with Ame-no-wahiko. He was pleased to welcome her. However, in reality, Ame-no-wahiko’s father is a terrifying Ox demon called “Gyu-ki”, and he cannot accept a human as a bride. Still, Princess replied, “I accept it as it is.” A few days later, this “Gyu-ki” finally arrived. 

Amenowakahiko felt a sign of Gyuki coming into the room, and He used magic to turn Princess into an armrest. Thanks to that, Gyu-ki didn’t notice the existence of the princess but went away, saying, “It smells like a Human.” Gyu-ki often visited the room, and each time Ame-no-wakahiko changed the princess into a fan, a pillow, and hid, but one day they were taking a nap, and they were found. 

Gyuki asks the princess for a brutal test: “Spend a night in a centipede warehouse.” Princess wears the kimono from Ame-no-wakahiko as a talisman; the centipede does not stab. Gyuki raises terrible tests one after another, but she breaks through with Ame-no-wakahiko’s Kimono. Gyuki finally admits to her as a bride. But the condition was that “Only meet only once a month.” But the princess mistakenly heard “once a year.”

Then Gyuki struck the melon on the ground, saying, “Then, once a year!” It became the Milky Way. In this way, Princess and Ame-no-wakahiko can now meet only on the evening of July 7th once a year.

SHAPE

(Towada Lake 十和田湖)

The first story is about the imaginary world from the water’s edge, and the second is about the door to another world by the sky. Let’s advance the time to the present.

200 years ago, there are travelers who walked all over Aomori – the north side of Japan. Masumi Sugae. He wrote down the climate encountered on his trip and draw it in a picture. His work is known as “Masumi Sugae Sightseeing Record”. There is a story about him going to Lake Towada. And just last week, I was there with his book.

Lake Towada occupies the caldera of a stratovolcano still regarded as an active volcano. 

Due to the double eruption, it has two peninsulas, and the outer ring that surrounds the lake separates the city from the tranquility of the lakeside. One day, when I got off the airport and got into the car, I saw a house in the shape of a snowy country.

For me, who spends time in Tokyo, where it is rare to snow in winter, the area with 4m of snow in Aomori is a new surprise. The scenery is like an Othello game, with the snow melting only around the tree trunks as we walk along the winding mountain road.

As we climbed up and down the high mountains, and we came out on a river. It’s called “Harakawa”. According to Masumi Sugae, this is the entrance to the torii gate, a river where we can rinse our hands and mouth to cleanse. We visit 6 Shinto shrines in order along a river that meanders like a dragon’s body.

Is the river a snake or a dragon? In many stories, the snake is portrayed as evil, but it is two sides of the same coin with the sacred existence, like a dragon. Once upon a time, the hunter Taro was walking along this road. Taro had cut down trees and had been cooked, but when he went out to the lake and drew water, a few large fish were flippering between the melting ice on a spring day. 

The fish was so delicious that Taro wanted to monopolize and started eating two, three, four, five, six fish. Then he became lit in his body, and his throat was thirsty, so he swallowed up the water in the tub at once, but it couldn’t stop.

He put his mouth on the surface of the lake and drank water, but eventually, his body became big and heavy, he felt sick and could not move, and he was crouching. Other hunters came back and saw him and said, “Taro became massive snake.”

Without returning to humans, the snake that wound around the lake became a large mountain surrounding the lake, and the rock with the blood of the Taro snake still stood in front of me. They thought they should not say the word “red” because of the existence of the blood of the evil snake or because of the fear of God. The rock, which develops a fiery color, is still called a “colored mountain.”

In addition to “red,” words that remind us of the legend of the Taro snake, such as “snake” and “long,” must be paraphrased in other ways.

— I’m looking at the rock wall, remembering the story.

They can not touch anything sacred directly. Even if it’s just a keyword. So they had to substitute the surrounding words. I thought it was like this lake made of rainwater, a spring of grace that had accumulated in the caldera.

Water can be shaped because it has a vessel.
The shape of the island formed by water, the shape of the lake formed by the mountain, 
The concept of inside and outside is constantly fluctuating.

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Thank you so much!

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