Category Archives: Light Reading

Views on photography and on being a photographer

Some Mid-December Thoughts

View of Taiji Matsue TYO-WTC exhibition
View of Taiji Matsue TYO-WTC exhibition at Nadiff

I had to go down to the Nadiff A/P/A/R/T bookstore last week — don’t ask me why they call themselves that — and they have a tiny gallery tucked into what must have once been a storage room in the basement. Tending to claustrophobia myself, and having bumped my head a few times on the narrow spiral staircase that descends down there, it may take the prize for my least favorite place to see a photography exhibit. (Perversely, it also happens to be where I saw one of the best exhibits of recent years — tiny 4×5 color landscapes of Toshio Shibata.)

Currently they’re showing Taiji Matsue, a photographer I quite like. However, not having paid any attention to the listing, I thought I had wandered into the wrong broom closet when I entered a completely dark room closed off with a black curtain, only to realize it wasn’t an exhibition of his photography at all but rather a single television auto-playing a video. (“Video installation” might be a tad generous). I was immediately turned off and was going to turn around, but just as I never leave a film or the dying cause of a lost sporting contest early, I forced myself to tough it out.

The video, or at least the seven or eight minute stretch that I saw, featured a single, fixed-camera shot of a busy Tokyo cityscape, one familiar to me from his new book TYO-WTC. Once I got past the initial urge to bolt from the room, the video grew on me and was actually quite interesting, my eye delighting in the various patterns that presented themselves in such a pedestrian view, and brought me back to my younger days when I used to eat up work of an ostensibly similar nature by such folks as Andy Warhol and Michael Snow, and to reflect with some regret on how much less patient I become with each passing year.

. . .


I don’t really see Matsue as a landscape artist but more like an earth artist or a geologist — which in fact is what he was before he turned to photography — but as we’re speaking loosely of landscapes, recently someone asked me to recommend to them some books of Japanese landscape work that were specifically “black and white and moody”. Aside from Kaiiki, which I had recently reviewed, I was hard-pressed to come up with any good examples, but the other day I finally got around to picking up Koji Onaka’s Twin Boat, which among other (frankly more important) things, would seem to meet the bill of “black and white, moody landscapes”.

From Twin Boat, by Koji OnakaI had actually passed over Onaka’s latest book for a couple of reasons. One, I simply adore his color work like Grasshopper and Dragonfly, and indeed both of those were my relatively late introduction to his work (along with Tokyo Candy Box), to the point where it was hard to accept that Onaka once worked in black and white. Secondly, I had assumed Twin Boat was, like Slow Boat which Schaden put out a few years ago, an American publication, owing to the publisher being Session Press in New York. While they are in fact the publisher, the book is really a joint publication between them and Onaka himself, and was edited by Miwa Susuda, a Japanese curator living in New York, and the book itself was printed here in Japan. So my biased bases covered, I promptly picked it up and I’m very glad I did.

Onaka’s book is certainly dark and moody in tonal palette (it seems as if a large handful of the images have been shot on days of bad weather), but it doesn’t strike me as psychologically moody. The photo from the book that I’ve included here has darkness, a looming sky, an expansive view (if not exactly a “landscape”), and in the eyes of this beholder, which is what matters most, an uplifting beauty. This is all to say that generic labels like “landscape” or loaded and heavily subjective terms like “dark” and “moody” are never the best way to talk about photography, but mea culpa we almost always over-rely on them. Speaking about talking about photography…

. . .


As Onaka’s popularity in Europe especially attests, the cachet of Japanese photography — and specifically Japanese photo books — shows no signs of abating. But as someone recently asked me, what about Japanese photo criticism? There’s plenty of tumblr-ing of Japanese photography, and certainly tons of blogs about it (this one included), but is there anyone writing about it at a more complex and nuanced level? Is there any criticism being written about Japanese photography that would be akin to say Max Kosloff, Alan Trachtenberg, Susan Sontag, or even someone in the slightly more popular vein of Janet Malcom?

My stock answer, gathered from inference and second-hand recommendations rather than primary knowledge, is Kotaro Iizawa, who has written innumerable books and was the founder and driving editorial force behind the 1990s journal Deja Vu. However, aside from some short essays, hardly any of his work is in English.

Minoru Shimizu column page screenshot
A screenshot of Minoru Shimizu’s semi-regular Critical Fieldwork column.

Recently though, I re-stumbled onto Minoru Shimizu’s semi-regular Critical Fieldwork essays over at the website for Art-It, the bilingual Japanese/English magazine about Asian Art. I confess I have not read all of the 38 essays posted there — Shimizu writes about other disciplines in addition to photography — but from what I have read I can tell that Shimizu certainly is someone worth reading. Particularly exciting for me is the prospect that Shimizu is not afraid of ruffling some well-preened feathers.

The Japanese photography “scene” as it were is a fairly chummy and mutual back-slapping place, by my observation, so when I read Shimizu refer to the work from a photographer that people seem to not be able to get enough of at the moment as “B-grade horror”, I had to take heart — not because they echo my own thoughts so much as they at least constitute a push-back against the fashionable tide. (The first footnote on that page consolidates this impression.) Superficial and reductive on my part, yes, but with only so many hours of the day and so much cheerleading to slog through, negativity is often a better tool for separating the wheat from the chaff.

Some semi-random thoughts as we enter December

Issei Suda Exhibition: magi no hira - fragments of calmLast week I managed to get myself down to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Syabi) and see the Issei Suda retrospective exhibition just before it closed. It may come as a surprise but I miss a lot of these major exhibitions at Syabi (and other museums/galleries), and I had basically already written off seeing this one. When I do see one of these exhibitions, more often than not it serves as an all too easy to forget reminder that it is worth the effort (but that won’t stop me from wondering if it is whenever the next one rolls around).

Suda has been on my mind recently, spurred on by this altogether rare and insightful piece on Suda and then later by my conversation with the author, Ross Tunney, who was in town recently specifcally to see the Suda retrospective. (If he could make a 12-hour round trip just to see the Suda exhibition, well then really I have no excuse.)

When I do make it down to Syabi I always try to avail myself of their excellent reference library, and this time was no different. I particularly wanted to look again at two Suda books I don’t own, 人間の記憶 (Human Memory, 1996) and 犬の鼻 (A Dog’s Nose, 1991) — particularly the latter as Suda’s color work is still by and large ignored even amongst all the Suda exhibits and books we’ve been treated to recently. Both of these are excellent but unfortunately not really affordable on the used market. It would be great if both of these could be re-issued so I could affordably buy them, or perhaps not….

. . .

Seiji Kurata's Flash-up, reprinted by Zen Foto GalleryAt the risk of biting the hand that sometimes feeds me, I’ve been thinking about the recent spate of re-issues such as the new Flash-up (Seiji Kurata), Suda’s Waga Tokyo 100 (both of those from Zen Foto), the reprint (or re-reprint) of Katsumi Watanabe’s Shinjuku Guntoden: 1965-1973, or the new facsimile editions of Daido Moriyama’s Another Country in New York, both of which are the latest in a string of re-issues from Akio Nagasawa Publishing they’ve done over the last couple of years. These are all worthy of once more seeing the light of the everyday, rather than languishing unseen and out of reach in the usually overpriced listings of AbeBooks, and most of them are very fine renditions indeed.

Nobuyoshi Araki's Banquet, published by Errata EditionsHowever — and I’ll admit right up front that I have no idea of the economics of putting these books out — do they all have to be so damn expensive? Speaking as a photo book lover, rather than a photo book store proprietor, I would much rather see more Errata Editions type of facsimile editions, which admirally accomplish several goals (of mine, not necessarily their’s or that of the publishers’ I mentioned above): allow people who have no access to the original to see the work; present the work as it was presented originally, but with better printing; provide context and perspective through contemporary essays; and make the books available to consumers at a very affordable price point. Japanese publishers are hardly the only guilty ones here it must be said. The German-based Only Photography has put out very nice — so people say, as I have never personally seen them — editions of work by Yutaka Takanashi, Suda, and Shomei Tomatsu. Nice and deserved, but not really priced at what sane people would call “affordable”.

. . .

From Someone's Wife, by Nobuyoshi ArakiFor better or worse, Nobuyoshi Araki’s work is ubiquitous enough that hundred-dollar reprints are not yet in abundance. I caught Araki’s “Someone’s Wife” exhibit the other day at Rat Hole Gallery. I went down there to pick up a book and probably would have given the show a miss otherwise, but I’m glad I got to see it. The subject of the series is hitozuma, which the gallery translates into the vaguely innocent-sounding “someone’s wife”, while the translation I’m more familiar with is the altogether more titillating “another man’s wife”. (If you’re after a more culturally accurate English equivalent, “MILF” is what you want — for those not familiar with that term, I recommend you search Google for it when you are not at work).

Araki has over the last 15 years produced quite a number of “Hitozuma” books (in the main series of this type of work, 人妻エロスor hitozuma eros, published by Futabasha, Araki released #17 this past March). They’re a bit slick but I quite like them. However, I only own one since to the casual eye of say, my wife, having more than one of them would be the equivalent of a teenager with mound of Penthouse magazines stuffed under his mattress.

The exhibit at Rat Hole features about 15 large black and white portraits of middle-aged women exposing their unclothed bodies in various degrees of nudity that we assume is the limit of what they’re comfortable with, each one daubed in brightly colored paint that Araki has often employed in recent years and here uses as a way to censor the images in the same way that his books of old featured black strips over women’s private parts.

Thus superficially the tone of the show, and that of the accompanying book, is different from the hitozuma eros books I mentioned before, and one may be forgiven for thinking that here Araki is trying on his “I want to make serious movies” Woody Allen hat. But ignoring the trappings of the large prints, black and white film, and a large, airy gallery space, the series produced the same feeling I get from much of Araki’s oeuvre, and what I suspect drives Araki much more than his legendary dirty old man-ness — a deep empathy for the people he photographs, and a loving embrace of the notion that the flawed and fragile represent the true pinnacle of beauty.

If you’re in Tokyo, the exhibition is on until January 19, 2014.

Japan Exposures Tourist Bureau

Photo gallery in Yanaka
Photo gallery in Yanaka (Tokyo)

We get a lot of emails here at Japan Exposures headquarters along the lines of “I’m coming to Japan/Tokyo and wondering if you could recommend some photo galleries or museums to check out while I’m there,” so allow us to copy and paste a response just sent to one recent said inquiry, to which we add some links to make it handy while we’re at it. It should go without saying that what follows barely scratches the surface, especially where Tokyo is concerned. (In this case the destinations asked about were Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima.)


There are so many galleries in Tokyo that it’s really hard to recommend any above any else, as it depends on what they’re showing, etc. Off the top of my head, without knowing their exhibition schedules, you should check out in Tokyo:

Syabi (tokyo metro photo museum)
Photo Gallery International
Gallery 916 (site | Japan Exposures profile)
Zeit-Foto Salon
Taka Ishii Gallery
Zen Foto Gallery
Taro Nasu

Put any of those into Google, or better check out Tokyo Art Beat which is quite comprehensive and up-to-date. (They’ve also got an iOS and Android app.)

As for Kyoto and Hiroshima, I’m less familiar with those cities, and certainly there are far less galleries. The Kansai (Osaka/Kyoto) companion site to the one above should help out.

As for Hiroshima, I used this site (and their printed map, available free at various places in the city) when I traveled there 5-6 years ago:

Have fun!

Of course after firing off the email we thought of others to add, but we’ll leave it to other photo gallery lovers to chime in in the comments below (especially about Kansai and Hiroshima). One thing we would add is that there are a few areas in Tokyo which have clusters of galleries, which makes a nice and convenient walking tour and a better chance to happen upon the unexpected. A few areas that come to mind are Shinjuku (especially around Shinjuku Gyoenmae and Yotsuya San-chome stations), Bakurocho, Kiyosumi, and Roppongi.

The Deteriorating Condition of Silver in Ginza

Eikoh Hosoe season at BLD Gallery in Ginza
Eikoh Hosoe season at BLD Gallery in Ginza
In between jobs the other day I stepped in to the BLD Gallery in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Ginza is Tokyo’s High Street where all the fashion brands have their flagship stores. Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Shiseido, etc. are all here. During the 80s bubble, the area featured the highest real estate prices in the world.

That bubble has long since burst but it still retains its hoity toity air, and to be honest I’ve never felt entirely comfortable there, though I often go there and used to find it a fertile ground for shooting as well, back in the days when I actually took photos. It also happens to be a good place to take in photos, featuring a few good galleries in the area, and it used to be a camera fetishists dream with several used camera shops.

BLD Gallery is one of the newer spaces, going back just three or four years I believe. It’s on the eighth floor of a building that houses a Zara brand shop on the first floor, but fortunately the entrance to the elevator is on the side so I don’t feel so self-conscious about my rather less than foppish attire. Their shows feature established artists, particularly Daido Moriyama, but also including Toshio Shibata, Takuma Nakahira, Masato Seto, and Michael Kenna, and although they are not exlusively a photography gallery, that is what they exhibit in the main.

One thing about BLD is that their shows are always extremely well-presented. Whoever is curating their exhibits definitely seems to make the best of the space, which is one large-ish room and an awkward smaller room off to the side, in addition to a small bookstore/merchandise area. The Shibata show I saw there last Fall was simply exquisite, with large 40×50 inch prints deftly mixed in with 40 or so smaller pieces.

Currently on view is the first of a five-show Eikoh Hosoe retrospective which will run until May. The first installment features work from Kamaitachi, shot in 1965 and first exhibited in 1968, and collected in the 1969 limited edition photo book of the same name. Thankfully due to the republication of this book in 2009 by Aperture in the US and Seigensha here in Japan, more people have become familiar with this work, although sure enough some of the images have become iconic over the years.

In 1965 Hosoe accompanied Tatsumi Hijikata, who along with Kazuo Ohno basically founded the post-WWII Butoh dance movement — to Yamagata prefecture where Hosoe spent his youth (Hijikata himself was from Akita, the prefecture north of Yamagata).

From Kamaitachi, by Eikoh Hosoe
From Kamaitachi, by Eikoh Hosoe
The resulting work is basically various photos of Hijikata interacting with the landscape or with the local residents in this rural part of Japan, ostensibly playing the part of a kamaitachi or “weasel-like demon who haunts the rice fields and slashes those he encounters with a sickle” according to Aperture’s description of the book. We see Hijikata perched on the fence-like structures used for drying straw, or traipsing through fields, sitting on the roadside with local farm workers, or interracting with what seem like other members of his troupe. (You can hear Hosoe — in English — briefly talk about the work in this Aperture video.)

The work is playful and irreverent, a departure from the dark brooding portraits of Yukio Mishima in Barakei, and perhaps my favorite part of Hosoe’s extensive oeuvre. There is a free-wheeling sense to the work — like much of what was being produced in Japan at the time (think Provoke) but yet in some of the portraits and landscapes, a classicism as well.

What’s particularly special about this BLD exhibit is that they are showing the same prints from when Hosoe first showed the work in March, 1968, under the title “An Extremely Tragic Comedy”, exhibited where else but in Ginza, at the Nikon Salon (still operating today in Ginza, in a newer location as both showroom and gallery space). That is to say, the very same pieces of paper that hung on the Nikon Salon walls 44 years ago. Not knowing this at first I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on — why the prints had this strange discoloration around the edges (due to the oxidation of the silver into silver ions), as well as these peeling circular labels with numbers on them that were affixed to the bottom corner of each print. (This .pdf from the Eastman House is a nicely thorough guide to gelatin silver print conditions.)

Having seen a few years ago some plantinum prints from Barakei that had been done by Hosoe and his son, I thought initially that these prints were a result of some vintage printing process, but the fact that they were just simply vintage was not a let down but in fact extremely interesting from a visual point of view, and fit in perfectly with the work and the emotional connection I was having as I walked around the room. And I found it refreshing that Hosoe could see the emotional value of these messy, deteriorated prints rather than getting hung up on pristine and prissy print quality.

One of my photos, taken in the Ginza in 2004
One of my photos, taken in the Ginza in 2004
After leaving the gallery, I passed by one of the used camera shops I used to window shop at, marveling at how far prices had fallen for some of the cameras I would lust after in the past, like a Wista 4×5 Field camera, or the Fuji Papageorge Special 6×9. No customers were inside, and no other window shoppers either, for that matter, and I wondered how much longer for this world were shops like these. Amidst some vague self-promises to start shooting photos again, I continued on my way thinking about a fleet(ing) Hijikata and Hosoe’s deteriorating silver particles.

(Update: January 30, 2012) You can see some examples of the prints via a few pictures from BLD Gallery’s Twitter feed: here, here, and here.

The New Social Photographer

There are few good things that come out a natural disaster or other catastrophe, especially one that claimed many innocent lives. However, it would be far too dark a view to take and say that doom is all we see. Since all photographers are as much observers as they are human beings, by logic all photographers are observers of the human condition. So as long as there are humans left after a catastrophe, we can, even amidst death and despair, observe even the faintest of glimmers of positive humanity — somewhere.

It is lamented, that the response of photographers to the March 11 earthquake to date has been weak. Whether Japanese photographers are losing interest in people. I think some corrective thought is warranted.

First of all, what drives the expectation (or even, desire) for strong photography after a monumental natural disaster? Have we not seen enough fact reporting in the newspapers, the web or television? We well may have, but probably want to see a more personal view and feel that it would be more valid, less matter-of-fact, than the factual depiction of news reporting. We want the story behind the story, or perhaps even the non-story behind the story. Why? What purpose would it possibly serve? To help comprehend the hardship faced by the survivors, some of which have lost everything from material things to friends and family, or even a physical location that was called home? Yes, there is a story that could be told, even though it doesn’t have to, despite the expectation. It is a strong story, no doubt, not because of a skilled narrator, but due a scene already set by prior events. The story is so strong that only few will have the strength themselves to face it, but first they have to actually bother and then come back to tell the tale.

To suspect a loss of interest in people is missing the point. Photographers cannot exist without an interest in people, but it is the interest in other people that matters. Hiromi Tsuchida, born 1939, Kazuo Kitai, born 1944, Hiroh Kikai, born 1945, Rinko Kawauchi, born 1972, Masafumi Sanai, born 1968 — a pattern emerges. We see two totally distinct generations of artists: the Showa, post-war generation and their children of the Heisei period, grown up in material comfort and safety. Their views of the world are entirely different. The post-war artists saw themselves as elements of a social fabric and their view was outward, on society, its values and behaviours. The view of the photographer itself is a reflection of those values. It still is, only that the view direction has changed from outward to inward. Photographers are still interested in people, only that this time people refers primarily to oneself. And since photography is always a reflection, we can still deduce values and behaviours, only that it’s now done the other way round.

The above is not meant as a criticism. Rather it is an assessment on the change of the times, society, its values, priorities and photographers within it. Both approaches can be made to work, and both can fail and produce boring, irrelevant photographs.

Will “the most useful photographs to come out of this disaster not even be taken for years, because the scale of the destruction is so big”? Possibly, but I don’t expect it. Photographers will continue to chronicle their own lives. Unless there is direct personal connection with the affected areas and it is significant enough for the artist to care, we will simply return to what has been there before.

The Tokyo Sky Tree as fait accompli

Shintaro Sato with a small part of one of his new panoramas
Shintaro Sato with a small part of one of his new panoramas
The other day I took my 8-year old son with me to Photo Gallery International in Tokyo’s Minato Ward to see Shintaro Sato’s new Tokyo Sky Tree work, Risen in the East, which is now showing until February 25.

My son and I have had fun dabbling in creating panoramas with our respective iPhones — he “inherited” my old iPhone 3 when I upgraded to the iPhone 4 a year and half ago — and the great AutoStitch iOS app, so I thought seeing some physically printed panoramas might resonate with him, as well as the likely chance to meet Sato-san.

Although I have yet to see Sato-san’s new book, I of course was familiar with some of the new work from helping put together the gallery on this site. Yet the immediate take away when I entered the second-floor gallery space where the work was being exhibited was “Whoa, what a completely different experience to see these panoramas in person.”

Now this is a common and predictable reaction to seeing any work, I admit — it’s very rare for the real thing, as it were, to underwhelm the printed collection. But it did strike me that short of printing a book as a scroll or with pages that fold out, panoramas are at a particular disadvantage when it comes to conveying their message via more modestly-sized media like the photo book or an online gallery.

There are only nine or ten pieces in the entire show, but most are large and three pieces take up an entire wall to themselves. While I’ve never really been a fan of the trend for large canvases, the sizes here felt right and especially with two different Tokyo cityscapes on view, provided an almost infinite series of details to pore over. (Sato-san told me some of these photos are composed from over 20 individual shots, stitched together using PTGui).

One of my son's panoramas from a visit to the then under construction Tokyo Sky Tree in May, 2011
One of my son's panoramas from a visit to the then under construction Tokyo Sky Tree in May, 2011
One of these details, and you’ll find it in all the photos, is the Tokyo Sky Tree satellite tower, which is the ostensible “subject” of the work. I have to admit that a couple of years ago, when I saw Sato-san’s first attempts to negotiate the subject matter of Tokyo Sky Tree, I had my doubts about whether this work was the right sort of follow-up to Tokyo Twilight Zone. At that point the tower was in its nascent stages of construction, and the photos were, well, photos of its construction. Verbalized, I could understand Sato-san’s interest in documenting this new — and ambivalently welcomed — addition to his Tokyo cityscape, but visually it was not very interesting. All the more reason why I was so blown away by what I saw at the show.

The difference between that early work and what Sato-san finally arrived at is that now there is a connection — a connection between this tower and the neighborhoods it looms over, and therefore a further connection between us as viewer and these photos. These photos really are not about the tower at all, I came to feel as I walked around the gallery, but about the cherry blossom viewing party, or Asakusa’s famed Sanja Festival, or kids playing soccer on a sandy pitch along the river on a Saturday afternoon. Whether obscured almost completely, as in the cherry blossom photo, or unmistakably centrally located as in the soccer photo, the Sky Tree isn’t the proverbial 900-pound godzilla in the room but simply a part of the landscape — a fait accompli if you will.

One of the elements of Sato-san’s previous Tokyo Twilight Zone series that I really responded to was how the photos placed themselves on that borderline between grand city landscape and intimate neighborhood portrait. In Risen in the East, Sato-san has I think gone even further in the direction of the neighborhood portrait. Here the residents no longer have to be assumed — they are here playing soccer, partying in the park, setting lanterns into the river. That Sato-san can achieve this, and still keep the 634-meter Tokyo Sky Tree in his sights, is not only a measure of his photographic achievement, but a larger statement that for better or worse, the tower is going to be with us for a long time to come.

Tokyo Sky Tree viewed from Asakusa, with the Asahi Beer headquarters in the foreground
Tokyo Sky Tree viewed from Asakusa, with the Asahi Beer headquarters in the foreground
After the exhibition, my son and I caught the subway to Asakusa to have sushi at a place we like there, and after coming out of the station there was Tokyo Sky Tree towering above us, seemingly. Although I’ve of course been seeing the tower for a couple of years now, this was the first time to see in in a few months, and the first time to see it more or less finished (it opens next month). For me it still has that out-of-character-ness to it, something I’m not quite used to. I wonder when, or if, I will come to view it as just present rather than omnipresent, but then again Tokyo isn’t my city in anything close to the way it is for Sato-san and millions of people. I’m a weekend tourist, at best, and as such can afford to keep it at bay for a bit longer. My son of course, like most kids I suspect, is enamored of it.

Best Wishes for 2012

We wish you a happy new year and all the best for 2012. As you have noticed, this site had been quiet for several months now. We appreciate the numerous emails and comments expressing the hope to see Japan Exposures going again. We want to make an effort to live up to that expectation. The events in Japan turned out to be only one of many in 2011: the Arab Spring and resulting disposal of a dictator in Libya, the European debt crisis etc. There was no shortage of events needing our attention.

Perhaps you also hear the reports about recovery and reconstruction in Japan. While these are encouraging, they also contain the desire to paint a positive picture when in reality many problems remain: the damage inflicted by earthquake and tsunami as well as widespread contamination by radioactive materials will weigh heavily on communities for years, if not decades.

Above all, however, stands the loss of life. Following suggestions from our customers, we added a voluntary option to donate as part of the sales of the MS Optical Super Triplet Perar 3.5/35 Mark II. The response has been very positive and I am pleased to report that Japan Exposures was able to collect a total of ¥430.000 (as of today approx. US$5590 / €4300), which was donated in full to a charity named Michinoku Mirai (Northern Region Future).

Michinoku Mirai was established by condiment maker Kagome, snacks producer Calbee and pharmaceutical company Rohto to provide funds for young people who were orphaned by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami to pay for university or post-secondary vocational school. According to the Health Welfare and Labor Ministry, about 1,500 youngsters aged 18 or less lost both parents in the disaster. Starting in March 2012, those who graduate from high school and wish to continue their education can apply for up to ¥3 million a year from the fund to pay for anything related to that education, including entry fees, tuition and supplies.

The three companies estimate that the fund will need about ¥200 million a year, and each one will start by contributing ¥30 million for the first year, with the remainder coming from solicited contributions. They will continue supplying the fund with money for 20 years, at which point children who were orphaned as infants by the disaster will have graduated from high school. The reason the fund was created is that there is no public support in Japan for the continuing education of orphans. When orphans reach the age of 18, they are on their own. Foster care ends at 18, and since in Japan there is very little in the way of what in the West are called scholarships — meaning education grants — orphans almost never attend university.

We hope that you will agree that this purpose is very worthwhile our support and thank you once more for your contribution.

Happy New Year!