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Photography「Real Estate - Town of Photography Higashikawa」
Artist in Residency : July 20 - August 9, 2014
Group Exhibition 「The 30th Higashikawa International Photo Festival」
at Red Brick Warehouse, 8-9 August, 2014

Photo Town Manifesto
*http://photo-town.jp/en/higashikawa-prize

People are moved by encounters with nature, culture, and other people. If a camera is brought into these encounters, it brings out their eternal qualities and makes it possible to share the excitement with other people. These photographic encounters generate stories that celebrate humanity and extol nature. With a camera, anyone can turn into a poet or become capable of wordless communication.
In order to provide opportunities for the emotional excitement that comes with photography, we the residents of Higashikawa hope to create a new world that embodies the best of the four seasons in our town, to build a community with heart that is open to the people of the world and a place that is truly photogenic. Our town is located on a blessed spot of earth, and we want to preserve forever our spectacular scenery and magnificent natural environment, with its abundant flora and fauna, as well as the wonderful local customs and spiritual qualities that we have inherited from our ancestors and continue to cultivate together.
Here and now, we announce the birth of Photo Town Higashikawa to our friends around the world.

June 1, 1985
Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido

CASE STUDY : “A place that is truly photogenic” - The gentrification of provincial towns in Japan
*This text is taken from the artist’s application for the Higashikawa Artist in Residency Program. Revised in October 2014.

I visited Higashikawa for the first time in the summer of 2007 and spent ten days as one of the “Photo Friends” volunteer staff who assisted at the Higashikawa International Photo Festival. During my stay I became fascinated by the town’s houses and would photograph them in my regular one hour break as volunteers were often required to work until midnight. I went on to present my works at “Street Gallery Contest”, a free exhibition that formed part of the festival’s satellite program.
Upon returning to Tokyo I came to learn more about the houses in Higashikawa, which are based upon the “Act on Promotion of Construction of Good Rural Housing”.
In order to support rural communities and their associated industries agriculture and forestry in particular more than 20 municipalities have adopted the measures outlined in the “Act on Promotion of Construction of Good Rural Housing” with the aim of addressing the challenges of shrinking, ageing rural communities.
I planned a visit to the Hokuriku region of Honshu specifically areas in Niigata and Fukui Prefectures that face the Sea of Japan in order to examine other examples of the “Act on Promotion of Construction of Good Rural Housing” being implemented. The areas were clean and new, however the houses were painted in more conservative colours and their shapes didn’t give me any strong impressions. The fieldwork concluded with the realisation that Higashikawa offered something unique and deserved to be given special attention.

Higashikawa is special because of the nature it possesses, but that’s not all. The construct their “beautiful landscape” using two types of lines: the organic and natural, and the artificial. The silhouette of each house is drawn to be in harmony with the ridge of the nearby Daisetsuzan Volcano Group. The pitch of the roof, the colour palette and the distance from the sidewalk to the entrance are all considered, whilst the use of local timbers is also promoted. The result is impressive, with each piece of architecture having a strong impact that led me to imagine an animated figure in the blue summer sky. In winter, when the whole town is covered with a thick layer of snow, the houses would exude a positive energy to the local people.

I was fortunate to have the chance to return to Higashikawa in 2008 to work as an assistant at the festival. At that time I photographed the town and the neighbouring villages that have implemented the “Act on Promotion of Construction of Good Rural Housing”. The result was a series of 49 photographs entitled “Real Estate - Houses for the Beautiful Landscape”, which received an award at “The 14th Student’s Computer Graphic Competition” juried by Naoya Hatakeyama, Daizaburo Harada and Ryota Kuwakubo, amongst others. The series was later exhibited at the National Art Center Tokyo for the Japan Media Art Festival 2008.

In preparing my application for the Higashikawa Artist in Residency Program, I researched how the situation had evolved in the six years since my last visit. Upon discovering that the scale of development had grown much more than I’d imagined, my desire grew to see the situation in Higashikawa for myself and to photograph based on the theme of “The gentrification of provincial towns in Japan”.

I hope that I will have the opportunity to realise this project as a residency artist.

March 2014,
Tamami Iinuma


「写真の町宣言」「ケーススタディ:"写真映りのよい"町の創造−地方都市におけるジェントリフィケーション」日本語 (PDF 184KB)





Collage / research material and artist book「Real Estate - Town of Photography Higashikawa」/2014







Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group, Asahidake / 2014







Concrete Factory in Higashikawa / 2014







Kitoushi Hoppo Forest / 2014







Chubetsu Dam / 2014







Chubetsu Dam / 2014







Chubetsu Dam / 2014







Liberal Farm Higashikawa / 2014







Green Village / 2007







Green Village / 2014







Liberal Farm Higashikawa / 2014







Green Village / 2014







East Town / 2014







Untitled (Higashikawa) / 2006







Kitoushi Hoppo Forest / 2014







Liberal Farm Higashikawa / 2014







Chubetsu River / 2014







Untitled (Higashikawa) /2014







Floodgate Chubetsu River / 2014







Green Village / 2014







Green Village / 2014







Green Village / 2014







Green Village / 2014







Concrete Factory in Higashikawa / 2014







Untitled (Higashikawa) / 2014







Concrete Factory in Higashikawa / 2014







From the causeway, Chubetsu River / 2014







Green Village / 2014







Artist Book「Real Estate - Town of Photography Higashikawa」







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