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Japan: Art & Soul

“Everything that is solid, melts” – this is one of the most thought-provoking exhibits in the year-long exhibition titled The Liquid State, housed at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. A perfect cube of asphalt, measuring exactly 84.74cm in length, breadth, and height, is kept in a huge petri dish to melt over the period of a year. Asphalt is supposed to be the slowest-flowing liquid on Earth, and 84.74 happens to be the average lifespan of a Japanese citizen
Photographer: Himanshu Pandya

Japan is a fascinating subject for photographers – we tackle it in black and white


It’s important to prepare yourself for the unexpected before you begin exploring Japan. It will challenge and upend your perceptions, and perplex the hell out of you. The Japanese have their own take on everything. Japan is known for its neon, eccentric vibes, but, once you go beyond the frills and the fanfare, its inherent history and quiet personality shine through. Once I realised this, I could only see Japan in black and white. In fact, black and white photography, according to the Japanese, is ‘two-colour photography’, as black and white are considered the ‘genuine’ colours, while colour photography is called ‘natural photography’. From designer toilet seats to wabi-sabi (a Zen concept that reflects an appreciation of beauty in impermanence) and everything in between, Japan is as unique as unique can be.

I think it is this perspective that gives a brilliant dimension to Japanese art, which has had a strong influence on every aspect of local lives for centuries. Whether it’s about something as seemingly mundane as drinking tea (a ceremony that’s actually considered one of the highest forms of art in Japan) or high-tech modern architecture, Japanese art has always been highly-regarded across the world. It is perhaps the only country where you can see yesterday and today co-exist in such harmony; a place where deep-rooted culture and tradition fuels cutting-edge technology and makes this tiny island nation the third-largest economy in the world.

Explore Japan in black and white with LPMI’s December 2016 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.