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[Vol.25] Life`s Heartbeat

In connection with the photography exhibition "European Eyes on Japan vol. 9" held at the Kagoshima City Museum of Art on 8-20 April 2008, the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee co-sponsored an essay contest with the local newspaper Minami-Nippon Shimbun. Visitors to the exhibition were to express how the work shown in it affected them, and the contest received 215 submissions from people aged 6 to 78 years old. These three essays were awarded the top honor in the contest.

Yuri Hisadome

3rd Grade KONAN Junior High School Kagoshima ※The title is at the time

It was of a calm atmosphere, a warm house. I was drawn to a girl in such a photograph. It is not as if she was smiling or angry. She merely looked quietly at the camera. That is the kind of girl she was.

I moved closer to the photograph. Fried noodles, partially eaten. A mandarin orange lying nearby. A single frame of the everyday, of that which can be found anywhere. It was the girl’s imperious eyes that made this simple photograph so remarkable.

What a naked expression! I gasped in surprise. Decency. Civility. Sociability. Here was an unadorned expression from which such useless things had been stripped away. It was if I could hear life’s heartbeat.

That night, together with my mother, I took a look at my own album. “Cute!” my mother said with a feeling of nostalgia, but my own feelings were very complicated. My kindergarten entrance ceremony. A festival for children aged seven, five, and three. My birthday. One page after the next, my innocent self appeared. I appeared so childish I nearly laughed, and so far away that it made me sad. All that remained to me, in the present, were photographs of that same formulaic smile, a smile I had felt compelled to make in response to a shout of “Ready, peace!” I hated my photographs.

This girl whose name I didn’t even known and my childhood self overlapped with one another.

Back then, when I was able to express my thoughts and feelings directly to others, did I have eyes like hers? If so, when was it that I started to hide myself? When was it that I began to deceive myself?

I come face to face with the girl in the photograph. I try looking directly into those eyes which express a firm will. In so doing, I am able to hear my own heartbeat, within me.

Oh that I may be honest with myself, and thereby move forward.

 

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Photo by Cuny Janssen

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