LensCulture Editor Review
I was raised by four women: mother, grandmother, and two aunts who have never been married. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was a teenager. She became a totally different person overnight. It almost seemed as if the history of her life had been erased; it got so you couldn’t have a decent conversation with her. The only way to prove who she had been was with photographs from before she became ill. She has been going back and forth between home and her hospital ever since.
Then, when I was 28, my grandmother died. She was like the boss among the four women who raised me, and had really played the role of a mother to me because of my real mother’s illness. Losing her was like losing my own mother.
Before my grandmother died, I rarely took pictures of my family. Afterwards I started photographing them every time I went back to Japan to visit. Most of these pictures are made on short trips around Japan with my mother and her two sisters. My family had hardly ever traveled before that. Many of our visits are to places my mother and aunts have wanted to see since they were young. What we're trying to do is to make up for memories we never had. The loss of a family member made me acutely aware of how much time had passed without my really noticing. I never thought my family would grow older; it seemed to exist in a time-less place. For me, these photographs are a way of dealing with that. But they also help me to accept the changes that have taken place, and those that are yet to come.