Shizuoka Prefecture & Fuji City
During the late 1960’s to mid 1970’s in England I
was very much influenced by the alternative cultures prevalent at
the time and became interested in understanding more about traditional
Japanese and oriental culture, philosophy and religion as a way
to appreciate life and the metaphysical. At the same time in Britain
we were seeing evidence of the advances in the industrial technology
of Japan through the growing imports of consumer goods.
I visited the Shizuoka Prefecture in March 2008. This was my first
visit to Japan and my first trip to Asia. Having toured around an
extensive area I decided to concentrate on the industrial and urban
areas within the Shizuoka Prefecture. What was striking to me was
the Westernisation of the built environment and how the ordered
and very structured way of life in Japan is reflected in the landscape.
I was particularly interested by Fuji City as one of the most concentrated
industrial urbanised areas I have seen. The spectacle of Mount Fuji
is impressive and, when clouds lift, its presence dominates the
city and surrounding landscape. It is no wonder that Mount Fuji
has become the national symbol of Japan and a significant symbol
of the forces of nature on these volcanic islands. Maybe we have
seen too many images of this old volcano and over familiarisation
can create a cliché where significance is lost. However,
I decided to make an additional set of work centered on Mount Fuji,
with its ever-changing weather systems, as a backdrop to the industrial
and urban reality of the modern Japanese landscape.
My interest in visualising the landscape comes from a desire to
understand how the world I occupy is shaped. For 27 years I have
engaged in an exploration of the industrial and urban western landscape
– as an independent observer to the changes in the built environment.
I am interested in the historic, industrial and social layers that
can be revealed in the landscape. A landscape shaped by forces that
are evident in the remnants and marks of former uses and the impact
of people on their environment. I attempt to communicate my findings
and conclusions visibly through documentary photographs. I am not
really interested in describing what you can see in my images but
rather prefer to write about the things that can’t be seen.
John Davies - July 2008
by EU-Japan fest / European Eyes on Japan for Japan
Today volume 10