This page is artist Yasu Suzuka's official website


PPAS Special Feature Article

Show at Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto, November 2009

The Meaning of Travelling

When I travel, I always take bamboo divination sticks and a Yin-Yang compass, because I want to let fortune decide my trip. Traveling, for me, is a journey to rediscover myself, to treasure once-in-a-lifetime meetings, and to feel “the invisibles.” After a number of trips, I have become interested in the concept of coincidence led by some kind of connection, and have become more interested in combining such coincidences and an interest in ancient Chinese philosophy formed during my university days in the U.S.

When taking pinhole photos, the possibility to shoot does not always present itself no matter how long you wait for the sun to appear. For me, it is all about coincidence or some kind of connection that will allow me to express myself fully. It is a quest for the meaning of “coincidence and consequence,” and my own feeling that we are all blessed with life and integrated with nature or the universe. It also allows me precious time to feel the “slow” way of life and indulge myself in self-reflection.

Since I moved to Kyoto from Tokyo in December 1972, I have had so many journeys. By “journeys,” I mean not only the travelling kind, but also all the experiences I have had. These journeys have acted as a kind of “school” for me as I have learned a lot from them. Through the journeys, I have experienced the aura of nature that has endowed me with a real sense of gratitude, and encountered a number of people who have awakened me to countless new things. The longer I continue to journey, the more interested I get in the mantra of “travelling” = “school” in which I keep repeating “understanding” and “not understanding.” It is said that “Heaven, earth and humans all influence each other,” and I think the connection between these three allows things to occur not purely through coincidence, but also through some kind of magical power.

In any case, the most important thing is to harmonize the yo (yang) and the in (yin).
“Fushi Kaden”

This expression indicates the importance of the “spirit of harmonization” among heaven, earth and humans. Heaven is “yang” and earth is “yin.” When yin and yang are in harmony, “Qi (energy flow)” can exist among humans, and allow them to harmonize with each other and between heaven and earth. Japanese people have humbly accepted their existence surrounded by a living and ever-changing natural world and universe since ancient times, and have shown great respect to this spiritual and invisible power. I would like to cherish these connections and show my appreciation by making a contribution to something tangible.

I am now planning an exhibition at Toji Temple in Kyoto as a prayer for world peace, starting on the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, August 6, 2010. In the past year, I visited the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima through this project and took a pinhole photo at 8:15 in the morning, the time when the atomic bomb was dropped. There are still many people who suffer from the after effects of the bomb’s radiation, and far too many wars and conflicts, as well as poverty, all over the world. With so many people suffering in desperation through this, I wish for peace and tranquility in the world and feel thankful that I am able to continue this “World Sacred Sites” series.

Final thoughts

Recently, I went to the art gallery in Art Tower Mito to see “BEUYS IN JAPAN,” an exhibition featuring the work of Joseph Beuys (Germany, 1921-1986), an artist known for the intricateness of his artworks and one of the top German artists of the 20th century. He said, “Every human being is an artist,” and advocated the concept of “social sculpture,” which influences those in varied and different fields. He was one of the founding members of the German Green Party from 1979 to 1980 and was proactive in environmental activities. Some of his comments impressed me very much. Here are some examples:

“Economics is not only a money making principle. It can be a way of production to fulfill the demands of people all over the world. Capital is humankind’s ability in work, not just money. Thus, economics includes the creativity of people. Creativity equals capital.”
“Thinking in itself is an invisible sculptural process, which becomes visible through ideas and concepts that evolve into art.”

If I may borrow his words, I would like to say, “Thinking in itself is an invisible photographic (pinhole photography) process, which becomes visible through ideas and concepts that evolve into art.”