My great grandfather lived in a transitional Japan in the late 19th Century. He was a samurai, but after the Meiji Restoration he became a banker/teacher.
One of his students, Juji Ishii, became a Christian and was the first person in Japan to build an orphanage. One of Juji's pupils became a successful businessman, and was the first person to establish a private art museum in Japan, the Ohara Museum of Art, which is still regarded as one of the most important museums in Japan showing masterpieces of the West. He thought a businessman had to show his gratitude to the community, in return for the support he got from the local people.
Although I have nothing to relate myself with them, I cannot help being proud about my ancestors. It seems to be very difficult for me to give back something worthwhile to the people or community who support me. Just to live my life with my family seems to be the best that I can do.
The word “Orient” or “Oriental” seems to be fading away.
It is an ambiguous word. I am supposed to come from one of the Oriental countries yet, when I was kid, the Orient sounded like unveiled mysterious places like China, Persia or Egypt, not like my home country Japan. I believe most Japanese thought more or less that way then. At the same time, the word 'Orient' gave me the impression of lost, abandoned and forgotten.
When I am so busy with my daily life and feel stuck, I want to run away to the Oriental Land, the place I was dreaming of as I was kid (strangely, the company running Disneyland in Japan is called Oriental Land Corporation...).
The series of drawings titled “The Orientalist” is about people, including myself, daydreaming; standing in an ambiguous border or a door between reality and a dreamland. They gradually may come to doubt themselves; if they really exist, or if they are really people, and not ghosts, monsters or animals.
Exhibition: Zimmerman Art Gallery
Exhibition at Zimmerman Art Gallery, 2013