Oyako: An Ode to Parents and Children (英語) ペーパーバック – 2018/7/25
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The Japanese word oyako is a combination of the characters for parent and child. It is unique in that it combines the parent and child into one unit, stressing the group rather than the individual, and reflecting the vertical link between generations. The parent is the link to the past; the child, a bridge to the future.When Bruce Osborn first photographed punk musicians and their parents in 1982, he had no way of knowing that it would turn out to be a life-long project of over 7,000 photo shoots over three-and-a-half decades, covering Japanese society in all its variety from musicians, sushi chefs and monks, to sports figures, adult film actresses, celebrities and the family next door. Oyako is a unique exploration of this special relationship—in a selection of photos and text. In a fresh and eye-opening way, it explores the very meaning of family and familial relationships and challenges us to consider our feelings about family.
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There is a sweetness and a sense of solidity in the relationships that suffuses these photos. They are posed or styled by the subjects, but Bruce has worked gently with them to try to let something essential emerge about each relationship and how the personality of each is complemented by the other. Most of the photos have a sense of joy, fun, and contentment, although there are a few that are sterner and more somber, with a few short stories and comments along the way. But even the photos and relationships that were more difficult evince a sense of achievement, of having worked through things, and a recognition of the importance of that achievement in their lives.
And now, after 36 years and 7,000 photographs, Bruce and his wife have established their own tradition of an Oyako Day, following Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, photographing 100 families each year since 2003.
A positive direction for our troubling times.
[SPOILER ALERT] In the interest of transparency, I will say that I am a cousin of the photographer/author. However, I am also an artist and musician myself, and claim some degree of objectivity as a commentator because of that.
In addition, the author chose such interesting Tokyo residents--artists, Kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, punk rock musicians, authors, bakers and bankers, comedians, story tellers, geishas, generals—with one of their parents.
We usually don't think of the warm, loving relationship with parents that often lies behind the success and creativity of even the most unusual people. The book celebrates that bond, which helps create healthy, happy people.
The photos are very creative, interesting, and heartwarming. Highly recommended.