The Views of Magic Lantern by Sachiko Kawanabe

Issue 66

The collection is composed of landscapes of my hometown and portraits of my family that represent the bonds we share in life.

We often hear that people cannot live alone. Even if someone thinks he is alone, that person was not born out of the blue. There must be a place or a parent that bore him. We tend to forget this when we are busy doing daily chores and fall into loneliness. We may forget what’s important as a human. If we keep saying to ourselves that “all life is connected” or “I must be tied with someone, someplace,” we may find life easier to live. 

Giving birth after going through a long tormenting labor has made me realize that I was born from my mother and my life has now been passed down to my daughter. There are many bonds that exist, and it is not only limited to life but exists with the soil and even with nature. Whatever the bond may turn out to be, it feels warm to be connected. The warmth is nourishment that bears hope and is the foundation to live life.

We always have a place where we are tied. We all have a birthplace and I believe there’s a special bond or force there. We feel enveloped and relieved by the force as we stand there. I find that the scenery is not what a traveller sees as a passing sight; it provides a rich energy to those who take a moment to stop and look around.

When I visit my hometown few times a year, I take photographs of seasonal scenery within walking distance from home, either by myself or together with my mother and my daughter. Paths I walked on during my childhood days, the shrine where I used to play near, at the top of the hill, and Lake Suwa, a place that can be seen no matter where you stood. Sometimes the figure of my daughter overlaps with myself when I was small. Sometimes the figure of my mother overlaps with Grandmother. When the three of us – my mother, my daughter and myself - stand on the land where we were born, I feel the bond with the soil from ancient days and the sensation of being well protected by the unknown that wraps me. I capture the scenery that comes across my eyes when I feel the sensation. It is as though it’s an image on a lantern that is pale and fragile, and disappears in an instant.  

Sachiko Kawanabe lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.
To view more of Sachiko's work, please visit her website.  

  “Toumorokoshi-batake (a corn field)”:  I walk up the hill to harvest corn for the night.

“Toumorokoshi-batake (a corn field)”:  I walk up the hill to harvest corn for the night.

  “Ingen-mame (kidney beans)”:  My daughter, wrapped in a fresh aroma, stretching out to pick some beans. 

“Ingen-mame (kidney beans)”:  My daughter, wrapped in a fresh aroma, stretching out to pick some beans. 

  “Himejion (eastern daisy)”:  Once again this year, daisies bloom around the cabin my late grandmother built. 

“Himejion (eastern daisy)”:  Once again this year, daisies bloom around the cabin my late grandmother built. 

  “Hikari-no ito (web of lights)”: The web comes down from heaven and climbs up to heaven. 

“Hikari-no ito (web of lights)”: The web comes down from heaven and climbs up to heaven. 

  “Aijyo (love)”: There was always an apple, peeled by my mother, on the table.  

“Aijyo (love)”: There was always an apple, peeled by my mother, on the table.  

  “Semishigure (chirping of cicada)”: Before the dancing, we wait for the night festival. 

“Semishigure (chirping of cicada)”: Before the dancing, we wait for the night festival. 

  “Suika (a watermelon)”: Eating the blessings of the Earth of my ancestors from ancient times. 

“Suika (a watermelon)”: Eating the blessings of the Earth of my ancestors from ancient times. 

  “Tourou-nagashi (a lantern float on the water)”: Every year on this day, we send off the spirits of our ancestors. 

“Tourou-nagashi (a lantern float on the water)”: Every year on this day, we send off the spirits of our ancestors. 

   “Gokou (a halo)”: My late Grandmother’s house was once here. 

 “Gokou (a halo)”: My late Grandmother’s house was once here. 

  “Kohan (lakeshore)”: To be embraced by the still water.   

“Kohan (lakeshore)”: To be embraced by the still water. 

  “Yuki-yanagi (baby’s breath spirea)” : Spireas always bloomed around the house, I visited in my childhood. 

“Yuki-yanagi (baby’s breath spirea)” : Spireas always bloomed around the house, I visited in my childhood. 

  “Keppyou (freeze over)” : Standing at the lakeside, the morning after a freezing night. 

“Keppyou (freeze over)” : Standing at the lakeside, the morning after a freezing night. 

  “Ashioto (a footstep)” : We can only hear the sound of someone crunching through the snow. 

“Ashioto (a footstep)” : We can only hear the sound of someone crunching through the snow. 

  “Yuki-no-hi (a snowy day)”:  It’s been a while since I walked with my mother.   

“Yuki-no-hi (a snowy day)”:  It’s been a while since I walked with my mother. 

  “Goshinboku (a sacred tree)”: This tree protected us for a long time. 

“Goshinboku (a sacred tree)”: This tree protected us for a long time. 

  “Genei (an illusion)”: My daughter wearing my kimono, standing under a sacred tree. 

“Genei (an illusion)”: My daughter wearing my kimono, standing under a sacred tree. 

  “Kowaku-no-chi (obsessed place)”: I am still drawn to this place.  There was once a pigpen that I used to visit, led by both my grandmother and mother’s hands. 

“Kowaku-no-chi (obsessed place)”: I am still drawn to this place.  There was once a pigpen that I used to visit, led by both my grandmother and mother’s hands. 

  “Dondo-yaki ( a bonfire ceremony)” : Sending the holy spirit off to heaven with gratitude. 

“Dondo-yaki ( a bonfire ceremony)” : Sending the holy spirit off to heaven with gratitude. 

   “Douso-jin (traveler’s guardian deity)”: My grandmother told me that it looks after us. 

 “Douso-jin (traveler’s guardian deity)”: My grandmother told me that it looks after us. 

  “Sakamichi (a sloping road)”: Walking down the slope with the neighbors after the first shrine visit of the New Year. 

“Sakamichi (a sloping road)”: Walking down the slope with the neighbors after the first shrine visit of the New Year.