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30 May 2007

Japan's Grand Finale, Part I

After four days, I found I had only just enough film left for four more portraits. I told her that if we were lucky the next day, we could finish the job and have a day off after that, before we had to return to Holland and Tokyo, respectively. We went early the next day and we were off. The small, narrow, but beautiful roads led through the mountains right into the heart of Wakayama Prefecture. We sought, found, and got in, and before lunch we had done three out of the four.

After lunch I said to Yoshiko: “Let's go for The Grand Finale. Let's find the one place that will be a true Domestic Landscape and finish the job today.”

And off we went again. After that successful morning, I felt so lucky that I did not shoot the first three places that we found and that would have made great pictures. I wanted something special and I knew I was going to find it. And special she was!

We met with the sweetest face, the softest voice and the biggest smile in all of Japan. And what a beautiful place she lived in: the words on the fa├žade told us that it once had been a tailor shop. She invited us to sit down on her porch and have a little chat. Opposite her place, carpenters were building a beautiful, big new home. “My son's,” she said proudly, “and the one next to that is also my son's.” And she told us about how happy she was to live here and how sad it was when her husband—the tailor—died in a car accident, leaving her with three kids to care for, and she just in her early thirties.

She was all alone, with no money and no income. She told us that she managed to make a living as a farmer because, she said, that was what she was: a farmer. And she brought up her three children without having complained once. I could tell that by looking at her face, her lovely face, and by listening to her precious, soft voice. She never complained one time. She took things as they came and never forgot to enjoy her children and the life that was given to her. This was a true traveller on the road to heaven, and she had found paradise.


Anonymous said...

lovely post. I can't wait to see the pictures. I was very pleased to see your book in a shop in London yesterday - it is fantastic and is going on my amazon wish-list. I am very glad that I happened upon the actual exhibition when it was at the PG recently.

Cheers -



Diana said...

With all the technology and pop culture coming from Japan it is nice to get a reminder that this country also has a softer side to it. It's a treat to get a little glimpse into your adventures.


Bert Teunissen said...

Hello to you both, Robert and Diana and thank you for your reactions. Yes Diana, there is so much more about Japan that we don't know. Having been there made me understand a lot more about Japanese culture and about it's place in history. I have enjoyed every minute of it and now I'm kind of hooked to it.
Keep looking, there will be much more to see and read.