The ancient tradition of poetry in Japan which was transmitted by the ancestors to the descendants has influenced the rules and canons of the modern hokku. The rules and manner of writing hokku are firm and unwavering like the other things associated with Japan such as the garden of 13 stones, sushi and warm sake. Following the rules id the national feature of the Japanese personality.
The Japanese poetry differs dramatically from the European and Eastern one, for example Indian and Chinese. The influence of Zen Buddhism has brought its rules of laconism and meditative observation of the object to the Japanese poetry. The lines of hokku are characterized by the in-depth view and total absorption by the depicted event or object. There are as little word required as possible to transmit the slightest elusive feeling of the changing word. That’s why each word of Japanese poetry carries great significance in spite of the laconism of the poetic lines.
Photography…what does it mean? What can it mean? This type of art and product of human imagination has been existing only for less than two hundred years or so. It can be captivating and interesting, it can be boring and dull. But for me it is a riddle all the time, even though something well known is taken and shown to me. It is a mystery. How come? Well, it is obvious. I will try to explain it to you.
Once I stumbled on pretty interesting photo project Dear Strangers by Japanese artist Shizuka Yokomizo. The idea of the project as simple as nothing. We see portraits of people whom we don’t know and who stare at the camera out of windows of their apartments. They stay alone but sheltered. The point is that the photographer doesn’t know all these people as well as they do not know her. Actually they have never met each other. So to accomplish her project she sent them notes asking to stand by the window at a particular time so that she had a chance to take pictures. “Dear Stranger, I’m an artist working on a photographic project which involves people I do not know… I would like to take a photograph of you standing in your front room from the street in the evening”. Of course some of the recipients refused to participate in such a strange project. They really didn’t know each other and who knows what her actual intentions were.