Exhibition: Yukiguni – Japan in snow
“When the train crawled out of the long border tunnel, the ‘Snowland’ lay spread out in front of it.”
With this line begins what is probably the most famous novel by the Japanese writer and Nobel Prize winner for literature KAWABATA Yasunari, which was first published in 1947 under the title Yukiguni (English “Snowland”). The story takes place in the area of the snowy Zaō volcanic group in the border region of Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures, which is now a famous ski area and at the same time known for its mystical “tree ice” (juhyō). This term is used to describe the trees of the Zaō and elsewhere in winter, when they are covered in multiple layers of snow, giving them the shape of ghostly figures. As the heavy snowfalls of last winter have shown in rather atypical regions, Japan is blessed with plenty of snow in winter, especially on its side facing away from the sun (Ura-Nihon), which can often cut off entire villages from the outside world for months. Here the snow determines the life of the communities, while elsewhere it enchants landscapes into a winter fairy tale or prepares the basis for artistic or sporting activities in winter. Selected photographs in the exhibition give an insight into the joys and sorrows of the white splendor. These are supplemented by e.g. some photographic prints of Japanese woodcuts, kimono motifs and excerpts from Japanese literature, in which snow is just as frequently used as a motif.
Image: Ice Monster at Hakkōda Mountain, Pref. Aomori. Photographer: Kanenori on pixabay. (https://pixabay.com/de/photos/schnee-raureif-auf-bäumen-oshirabiso-7826180/)