Short Movies with Photo Art on Japanese / Asian / Eurasian Cultural Heritage
Short Movies (Cross Media Work)
Conceived & Produced by Media Art League
- “Life of Masks – Bugaku : Kasuga-taisha Shrine and Wakamiya Onmatsuri Festival” (11min./Written, photographed, filmed and directed by Miro Ito, Editorial supervision: Kasuga-taisha Shrine + Kan’ichi Kasagi) is being shown in the Kasugataisha Kokuhoukan Treasure House from Autumn 2016.
- “Gigaku: Road of Masks” (7.5 min./ Written, photographed and directed by Miro Ito, Editorial supervision: Kan’ichi Kasagi) was shown in the entrance hall of the Tōdaiji Museum.
- “The Great Buddha Lives!” (7min./ Written, photographed and directed by Miro Ito, Editorial supervision: Tōdaiji Temple) is being shown in the entrance hall of the Tōdaiji Museum since 2011.
- “The Great Buddha Lives!” was shown at the 9th Great Buddha Symposium in 2010.
- “The Great Buddha Lives!” + “Life of Masks — Bugaku : Kasuga-taisha Shrine and Wakamiya Onmatsuri Festival” were shown at the Canon EXPO Tokyo as well as the Commemorative Events of the 1300th Anniversary of Nara Heijō-kyō in 2010.
🔶Photo Art Exhibitions on Japanese / Asian / Eurasian Cultural Heritage
Conceived & Produced by Media Art League
Photo Art by Miro Ito
- “Road of Light and Hope: National Treasures of Todai-ji Temple, Nara”, co-organized by the Japan Foundation, Toronto / Media Art League / Japan Camera Industry Institute, the Japan Foundation, Toronto, Canada, 15.March – 28.June.2017.
- “Road of Light and Hope (Photo exhibition of National Treasures and Important Cultural Property of Japan)”, co-organized by the Consulate of General of Japan in Strasbourg /Media Art League / Japan Camera Industry Institute, the Council of Europe + Lieu d’Europe (exhibition pavilion), Strasbourg, France, 2016.
- Road of Light and Hope: The Eternal Cosmopolitanism Weaving Along the Silk Road (Photo exhibition of National Treasures and Important Cultural Property of Japan)”, co-organized by the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan / Japan Camera Industry Institute, supported by the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan, the International Caravanserai of Cultures of Ikuo Hirayama, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2016).
- “Road of Light and Hope: The Cosmopolitanism Embodied in the Great Buddha & Sculptures of the Tōdaiji Temple (Photo exhibition of National Treasure of Japan)”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations /Media Art League / Japan Camera Industry Institute, the United Nations HQ, New York, 2016.
- “Photo Art by Miro Ito: Tōdaiji Temple’s National Treasure Nikkō Bosatsu & Gakkō Boasts”, 2015 Int. Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition(NCC booth) at Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Center.
- “Photo Art by Miro Ito: Tōdaiji Temple’s Important Cultural Property of Japan – Senju Kannon Boastsu”, 2014 Int. Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (NCC booth) at Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Center.
- “Gigaku Masks of Tōdaiji Temple + Bugaku Masks of Kasuga-taisha Shrine”, organized by the Nara prefectural government, Nara Mahoroba-kan, Tokyo, 2010.
- “Road of Light: Ancient Route of Prayer and Dedicatory Arts in Asia”, Canon EXPO Tokyo, supported by the Association for Commemorative Events of the 1,300th Anniversary of Nara Heijō-kyō Capital, 2010.
- “Men at Dance — From Noh to Butoh: Japanese Performing Arts, Past and Present“: New York Public Library for Performing Arts, Lincoln Center (2007-2008) as a tie-in exhibition to the 2007 NY Butoh Festival, funded by the Japan Foundation, supported by the Consulate General of Japan in New York, New York.
- “Masks, Performance, Life’s Energy: Visitor from Past and Future– featuring Mannojo Nomura” on the 1st anniversary of his death, Canon S Tower, Tokyo, and two other venues, 2005.
- “Mannojo Nomura’s NipponGaku — Traditional Japanese Dance and Performance“, Japan Camera Industry Institute (joint exhibition series with Mayumi Moriyama, Chairperson of JCII, & Japanese Minister of Justice [2001 – 03], Minister of Education [1992-93]), Tokyo, 2004.
- “Monochrome Digital Bodyscapes“, Canon Salon (Tokyo / Osaka / Nagoya), 2003.
- “Mannojo Nomura’s Mask Road“, Japan Camera Industry Institute, Tokyo, 2003.
- “Butoh : Encounter with the Flower Named Body“, Japanese Culture Week in Frankfurt, Germany, 1997
Last Update: April, 2017
Book Publications on Japanese Cultural Heritage
Conceived, Produced & Edited: Media Art League
Author: Miro Ito
- “Encyclopedia of Japanese Family Crests: 1400 Years of Beauty & Tradition (Nihon no Kamon to Seishi: Dentohbi to Keifu)”, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing, 2013 (Japan)
- “Encounter with the Fundamentals of Life in Nara (Kokorono Sumika Nara — Inochino Kongen Narumono to no Deai )” (all text & photos), Random House Kodansha, 2010 (Japan)
- “ManzaiRaku: Mannojo Nomura + Miro Ito” (photographs/text by M. Ito), Nippon Camera, 2004 (Japan)
- “Photographs and Haiku Poems dedicated to Ganjinwajo and Vairocana Buddha of Tōshōdaiji Temple“/ Catalogue Edition for “Dedication of Flowers” exhibition, 2005 (Japan)
※Reference:《Publishing & Educational Activities》
Other Publications: Portfolios, Interviews & Book Reviews on Japanese Cultural Heritage
🔶Portfolio Publications (publication name / issue / title)
“Asahi Camera / Jan. 2012” (“Noh Performers”, 10 pp., Japan)
“A Dance” (Ko Murobushi, by Alexander Barabanov, Jonathan Cape, London, 2011)
“Asahi Camera / Jan. 2010” (“Gangōji Temple”, 7 pp., Japan)
“Asahi Camera / Oct. 2008” (“Tōdaiji Temple”, 8 pp., Japan)
“Commercial Photo /Dec.2007” (“Okina by Hodaka Komparu”, 2pp., Japan)
“Nippon Camera / Dec. 2006” (“Quick Silver”, 4 pp., Japan)
“Nippon Camera / Dec. 2004” (“ManzaiRaku”, 6 pp., Japan)
“Commercial Photo – Digital Printing Technology / 2004” (“Monochrome Digital Bodyscpaes”, 3 pp., Japan)
Official Poster of 2007 New York Butoh Festival
Official Poster of 2006 Venice Biennale (Dance Section)
Images of Ko Murobushi were used as official posters for several international dance festivals including Vienna, London, etc.
🔶Interviews (on Miro Ito’s photo essay)
“Mainichi Newspaper” (24 June 2010)
“Nara Shimbun Newspaper” (13 May 2010)
"Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper" (23 March 2010): Home of Life and Prayer Nara (Book)
Title: ”Home of Life and Prayer “Nara (Book)
Translated by Andreas Boettcher
Miro Ito, photographer and author who has mainly been active in Europe and the United States, published her photo essay “Kokoro no sumika nara: inochino kongen narumono to no deai (literally, Haven of the Heart, Nara: Encounter with the fundamentals of life)” by Random House Kodansha (*1) price: JPY 1,905 (excl. tax).
One of her images from a sequence of butoh performances was selected as official poster for the 2006 Venice Biennale – Dance Section. While she has successfully been active overseas, she encountered the events of 9.11 in NYC. Immediately after that, she found the message expressed by Abbot Emeritus Shoen Hashimoto at his inaugural address dedicated to the Great Buddha: “equality and solidarity” and “tolerance and perseverance” on the internet and “was moved by the universal appeal of these words that transcend the diversity of religions”.
In an endeavour to research Japan’s rich spiritual culture, she temporary relocated there in 2004. While visiting Nara’s shrines and temples and participating in its Buddhist rituals, she became convinced that this city is a haven of life and prayer preserving teachings of “what it means to live and let live”, where “the conviction that Nara is a haven of life and prayer preserving the teachings on what it means to live and let live”, while visiting the city’s shrines and temples and participating in its Buddhist rituals.
The book includes some 40 photographs of the “Omizutori (*2)” ritual of Todaiji’s Nigatsudo Hall, ceremonies of Toshodaiji as well as Gangoji Temple. Interviews with such prominent personages as Kosei Morimoto (Abbot Emeritus of Todaiji Temple) and Akio Okamoto (head priest of Kasuga-taisha Shrine) are also introduced.
She is planning to publish her second book related to Nara and stated that she “wants to tackle this as her life’s work since the spiritual culture in Nara is the common heritage of all peoples.” (by Yasuo Hayakawa, The Yomiuri Shimbun)
*1) Random House Kodansha is now known as Takeda Random House since April 2010.
*2) The formal name of “Omizutori” is Shunie (February Ritual).
🔶Book Reviews (name of magazine / issue) — click name for text
"Weekly Toyo Keizai" (26 June 2010)
Haven of the Heart: Nara Author: Miro Ito
Translated by Andreas Boettcher
Author Miro Ito’s photographs strike a chord close to the core of Japan’s religions that permeates the historic strata of Nara’s temples and shrines; each of her images has an atmosphere that seems to make the existence of deities tangible.
These are highly artistic images worthy of large coffee-table books. However, in keeping with the author’s desire of making this volume accessible to a wider audience, it is put together in regular-sized photo-essay format. Nonetheless, the impact of the photographs is not lost, vividly conveying the author’s impressions of “the haven of the heart, Nara”. A lot of care went into the artwork of the book jacket design; and if one removes it, one finds an unexpected golden embossed image on the book surface.
It is also fascinating that this book includes messages of some of Nara’s representative scholars such as Abbot Emeritus Kosei Morimoto of the Todaiji Temple, Myogen Nishiyama of the Toshodaiji Temple, Taizen Tsujimura, the head monk of the Gangoji Temple as well as Akio Okamoto, Chief Shinto priest of the Kasuga-taisha Shrine. Although their ability to easily speak about how to lead one’s life is astonishing, each of their words reaches heart of the reader.
With this year being the 1300th anniversary of’ Nara’s establishment (under its original name of Heijokyo), the message of this book is even more appropriate.
"Weekly Toyo Keizai" (27 November 2004)
[This Week’s Recommendation]
ManzaiRaku: Extensively and leisurely observing, to the farthest horizon…
Works of Mannojo Nomura by Miro Ito
Published by Nihon Camera / JPY3,990
Profile of Miro Ito
Photographer/author. After graduating Keio University (major: aesthetics and fine art history), she studied philosophy at the Ruhr University in Bochum as well as photography and applied art in the faculty of communication design at Essen University in Germany.
Portrait of a young kyogen master whose career once flourished…
(reviewed by Akiko Moriyama, Professor of the Musashino University of Art, translated by Andreas Boettcher)
One might wonder why Japanese society needs kyogen master Mannjo Nomura on the cusp of the 21st century. With every flip of the page in the photo book “ManzaiRaku”, a deep emotion starts to stir. The prelude to Nomura’s great success was his stage direction of the closing ceremony of the Nagano Winter Paralympics in 1998. Since then he has had a strikingly successful career that took off with his own initiatives such as “Shingigaku” and “Mask Road” projects in 2001.
His “Shingigaku” was a recreation of gigaku (*1) performances with 23 masks that were replicas of originals preserved in the Shoso-in Treasury of the Todaiji Temple (*2). While his Shingigaku performance was expanded to South and North Korea as well as the United States, his family’s school of “Yorozu Kyogen” performed in several European and American cities. Moreover, he endeavoured to develop new genres such as “Kaidan Kyogen (kyogen of ghost stories)”, “Onna Kyogen (kyogen by women) as well as “Reproduction: Okuni Kabuki” until his death on 10th June 2004.
Miro Ito started to photograph Mannojo Nomura at his Shingigaku perfomance in Washington D.C. in 2002, while she was residing in the United States. Her digital images succeed in capturing the steep career of this visitor’s (*3) last years. Nomura’s candle burned out before he could become the 8th head of the traditional kyogen family of Manzo Nomura, whose family guidance is “Extensively and Leisurely Observing, to the Farthest Horizon…”.
At the end of this volume, 66 people have paid their respective tributes, including Yasuhiro Nakasone (Chairman of the Japan-Korea Cooperation Committee) (*4). Each of their messages contains expectation as well as sorrow. Mannojo’s own words clearly explained why: “the 21st Century is said to be the Asian Era. Shingigaku is capable of conveying what Asia is, and it heralds the advent of an era of sharing culture rather than exchanging it” (quote from Mannojo Nomura’s book Mask road : maboroshi no gigaku saigen no tabi [literally: Mask road: journey to the revived phantom of gigaku]).
It certainly seems to be the common desire of Mannojo Nomura, Miro Ito, and all the others involved in this book, that Japan foster cultural exchange by sending its sharable culture westward along the Silk Road.
(*1) Gigaku is probably the oldest Asian mask theater.
(*2) The Shoso-in Treasury (at the Todaiji Temple) in Nara has a collection of treasure from the 8th century.
(*3) Marebito is the original Japanese term (literally, visitor).
(*4) Former prime minister of Japan (1982-1987)
“Asahi Camera” (April 2010)
“Nihon Camera” (December 2003)
🔶Exhibition Reviews (publication name only)
“Asahi Camera”, “Commercial Photo”, “Monthly Cameraman”, “Monthly Shahin Kogyo”, “Spur”, “Esquire Special Edition: Luca”, “Mainichi Newspaper”, “Design no Genba”, “Prints”, etc.
🔶Media Contributions (publication name / issue / title)
"Mainichi Newspaper" (4 October 2010): Exquisite Nara: Reminiscences of Kami and Buddha by Miro Ito
[Title of the Feature: Aoniyoshi – Nara, former imperial Capital celebrating 1300th Anniversary]
Exquisite Nara: Reminiscences of Kami and Buddha by Miro Ito
(translated by Andreas Boettcher)
Visiting Nara is like a series of gem-like experiences where the tangible and the intangible interact with each other, whether it is peoples’ hearts or minds. Amidst the 1300 year tradition, —first, a gift of the kami and Buddha, and secondly, the fruits of human skills and perseverance—, our heart encounters kami and Buddha, resonating through the past, present and future.
I myself have pondered the question how to lead my life, which was instrumental in my going to Germany where I became a photo artist and art pundit. In the absence of absolutes in our transient lives, I came to sense “the eternal present” in the medium of photography, which can similarly be found in haiku-verses of the poet, Basho Matsuo.
Since then, through photography I sought to encounter the fundamentals of life, which are par se synonymous with sparks of the intangible, sacred world lying in the abyss of the “seen” world. Subsequently, I emigrated to the USA where I experienced the events of 9.11. Through my incessant quest for the fundamentals of life despite its fragility and transience, I encountered Nara.
What sustains my life is the prayer itself. In every 15th of August, the Manto-kuyo (Festival of Ten Thousand Lanterns) is held in the Todaiji Temple, when the small double-doors in front of the face of the Great Buddha are to be open. Against the background of the deep blue sky in the twilight, the Great Buddha’s golden face emerges in resplendent light. The Great Buddha statue is the enlightened Buddha himself. At the same time, this luminous giant statue symbolizes the infinite light illuminating the universe.
I sense this light as being omnipresent, enlightening our minds and heart; the Great Buddha is truly alive.
On the other hand, we encounter the word at the Mantoro (Festival of Ten Thousand Lanterns) at the Kasuga-taisha Shrine. The lantern is but a small space between dusk-like darkness and shimmering brightness, transporting the thoughts of people from the past to the future. In glittering corridors of light, the lanterns set the stage for a rendezvous with the kami.
When visiting Nara, we come to realize our lives themselves are no more than fleeting moments amidst the eternally changing and flowing cycle of life. If there is anything unchangeable, it would be the reverence of something sacred; whether kami or Buddha.
This reverence is not based on an exclusive faith, prone to reinforce discord among religions. It should be seen as the peace at the end of the beacon of our spirituality. It is the awareness that we can help, support and complement each other joining our lives with others.
(The Mainichi Newspaper, Western Japan Edition, published in the special feature: Aoniyoshi — Nara, fomer imperial Capital celebrating 1300th Anniversary).
ASAHI CAMERA (January 2009) — 4 page spread: New York de Shashin no Kako/Genzai/Mirai wo Kangaeru (literally, “Thinking over Past, Present and Future of Photography from New York City”), special feature to Miro Ito’s monthly contribution, “Gokui de Manage Shashin Gokoro”)
ADVERTISING (Vol.7/10 May 2002) — 3 page spread: Post 9/11 Jinsei no nakani Shinjitsu wo! (literally, “Post 9/11 Searching for the Truth within ones lives!”), text by Miro Ito
NEXT STAGE (BS Japan) ― 11 min. broadcast: New York wa ima (literally, “What now, New York City?”), photography & poems by Miro Ito (MC: Ken’ichi Shimomura), 5th October 2001 (Japan)
WEEKLY TOYO KEIZAI (6 October 2001) — 8 page spread: I LOVE NY – In Memory of the Victims of the World Trade Center Disaster, photography & text by Miro Ito
🔶Commitment to a Sustainable World
Our humble commitment as MEDIA ART LEAGUE is to promote affirmative action, utilizing our modest abilities in order to spread sustainability awareness by reporting exemplary achievements around the globe, particularly in the architectural & urban planning and construction sectors.
Specifically, we interview prominent opinion leaders, leading world architects, top executives, experts/professionals to identify & present their thoughts and visions ― together with outstanding examples actually being implemented and improved on a dynamic scale for a better, sustainable urban environment.
So our modest commitment will hopefully provide a beacon of awareness, insight and involvement as to what each of us can do towards a sustainable world — through technology, art and philosophy.
🔶 Leveraging Our Experiences in Specialty Quality Publications
Miro Ito and Andreas Boettcher frequently contributed articles/features to several specialty quality publications — in the NIKKEI Group (NIKKEI Business Publications) — from the early 1990s to 2000s in Europe, Japan and the Americas. Representative articles to date include: “Redevelopment of Central Berlin”, “Urban Planning in Frankfurt” (NIKKEI ARCHITECTURE), as well as redevelopment projects in Barcelona, Paris (NIKKEI CONSTRUCTION), and Toronto (OFFICE AGE, Tokyo).
🔶Recent Special Features from Americas (publication name / issue / title)
- NIKKEI CONSTRUCTION (14 November 2016 ) — 9 page spread: (Canada Toronto) Ontario Kohan ni Arata na Main Street / Queens Quay West ( literally: [Civil Engineering Wonders of the World] Queens Quay West – A Rejuvenated Thoroughfare On the Shores of Lake Ontario), photography and text by Miro Ito (co-authored by Andreas Boettcher).
- NIKKEI CONSTRUCTION (12 September 2016 ) — 14 page spread:(New York State, USA) Zenchoh 5km no Toka-kyoh wo Kakekae – Bei Manhattan kara Kita 40km ( literally: [Bridge] “Construction of New Tappan Zee Bridge -“Renewal of 5 Km.- long River-spanning Bridge 40km. North of Manhattan”), text by Miro Ito + Andreas Boettcher, featuring interviews with Jamie Barbas, Khurram Saeed (NYSTA).
- NIKKEI CONSTRUCTION (22 February 2016 ) — 14 page spread: (New York City, USA) Kyodai Toshi no Chika wo Happa de Horu ( literally: “[Subway] Excavation with Subterranean Blasting in an Urban Megalopolis”), photography & text by Miro Ito (associate editor: Andreas Boettcher) featuring interview with Michael Horodniceanu (President of MTACC).
- NIKKEI ARCHITECTURE (14 January 2016) — cover photo & 6 page spread: (Connecticut State, New Canaan, USA) Bokkateki na Fuhkei ni ukabu Kawa no yhona Meisoh Kuhkan (literally, “Grace Farms river-like meditative space floating arcadian landscape”), photography & text by Miro Ito (associate editor: Andreas Boettcher).
- NIKKEI ARCHITECTURE (10 July 2015 ) — 8 page spread: (New York City, USA) Fukkatsu wo Shohchohsuru ‘Hikari no Toh’ – Tohkashinai Biru wo Mezasu (literally, “One World Trade Center: A ’Tower of Light’ that Symbolizes Rebirth & Strives to be Indestructible”), photography & text by Miro Ito (associate editor, Andreas Boettcher) + Interview with Daniel Libeskind.
- NIKKEI ARCHITECTURE (25 July 2012) — 8 page spread: (New York City, USA) Chiku 81nen no Matenroh wo Shoh-eneka – The Empire State Building (literally, “The Greening retrofit of the Empire State Building”), photography & text by Miro Ito (associate editor: Andreas Boettcher) + Interview with Anthony Malkin.