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Amagatsu.  Photographs by Yoshihiko Ueda. Text by Toshiharu Ito.

Amagatsu.

Photographs by Yoshihiko Ueda. Text by Toshiharu Ito.
Korinsha Press, Kyoto, Japan, 1995. In English/French/Japanese. gatef pp., color illustrations, 11x14½x2".

Yoshihiko Ueda photographs the dancer Ushio Amagatsu as he moves through a black void.

"Since time immemorial, the body in Japan has been seen as an empty container. What was called the 'soul' ('tamashii') was something that, from outside of the body, attempted to enter and flow within the empty vessel. It is said that the making of human shaped figures — puppets — was originally for purposes of sorcery. The word ' puppet' is made of the Chinese characters for 'human' ('hito') and for 'shape' ('katachi'); we also have the word 'hitogata,' or 'human mold.' These 'human molds' ('hitogata') would indiscriminately attract the souls of both the living and the dead. Puppets then were 'spirit containers.'

Thus, in Japanese culture, the spirit is an outer entity that enters and flows within an emptiness. More than the container it was the very process of entering the empty container from the exterior that was considered important. Again then, what characterizes Japanese culture is this absence of an anterior center, this image of an empty container. And the symbol of this culture is an empty mold being filled by a soul ('tamashii') or spirit ('kokoro')." — Toshiharu Ito (Art Historian), Imagining the Human Mold: On Yoshihiko Ueda's Amagatsu


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