Photo art book: Signs of the Intangible by Miro Ito
Body-mind-scapes from Japan's 1400 years of performing arts

For many years, photo artist and author, Miro Ito has been exploring signs of the intangible as she used her camera to capture transformations in body culture, in her photographic series which she calls body-mind-scapes of prayer and dedication, as well as expressions of enlightenment, including Buddhist statues and objects of worship that are listed as National Treasures and Important Cultural Property of Japan.

Ito has also explored the history of Japanese performing arts and their lineage that came from the ancient Silk Roads.

From the oldest known Eurasian mask theatre, Gigaku, arriving in Japan 1400 years ago —of which only some masks survive today—to Bugaku dance and mask culture integrating diverse court performing arts and music —now defunct in continental Asia; Noh that developed into theatrical drama in the 14tn/15th century, to contemporary avant-garde Butoh: a quest for the soul as an eternal light in body culture; Ito has depicted the intangible side of spirituality and turned it into photographic masterpieces.

This photo book which conveys a part of the author’s journey to the body-cosmos through three countries: Germany, the United States, and Japan, serves as a catalogue accompanying the world travelling exhibition Signs of the Intangible.

This is a portfolio with new and unpublished works, including Quick Silver (mercury), a collaboration with Butoh dancer Ko Murobushi, which became the official image of the Venice Biennale (dance section) in 2006—accompanied by the author's newly-written art essays.

  • Photographs & Text:  Miro Ito
    English Editing & Translating: Andreas Boettcher
    Dedication: Akiko Moriyama (Musashino Art University [currently Vice-President of Kobe Art University])
    Designed by:  Chieko Saito (sacco)
    Languages English/Japanese
    Publisher: Media Art League LLC
    Edited by: Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative
    Publishing Date: 30 January, 2023
    Softcover Book-on-demand Production: 152 pages with 85 photographs (+21 photographs in essays)
    Unit Price JPY 10,000 (tax excluded)
    Identification: ISBN978-4-9912957-0-6 C0072
    Dimension: W 22 cm x H 30.7cm (W 8.66 in x H 12.09 in)
    Reading Age: 13 years and up
    Photo Permits by Tōdai-ji Temple; Kasuga-Taisha Shrine; Nara National Museum; Setagaya Kannon-ji Temple


  • Participating Performers
    Hodaka Komparu (Komparu school Noh actor)
    Yukifusa Takeda, Tomoyuki Takeda, Fumiyuki Takeda (Kanze school Noh actors)
    Ko Murobushi, Goro Namerikawa, Tamara Yamaguchi (Butoh dancers)
    KiK_7, Giga Hizume, Sal Vanilla (Butoh company)
    Shunso (contemporary dancer/ballet dancer


  • Important Cultural Properties of Japan of the Tōdai-ji Temple 
    9 Gigaku masks masks (Suiko- ō, Suiko-jū [3 types], Konron, Karura, Chidō, Rikishi, Taikofu, 8th century) and 1 Bugaku mask (Ryō-ō, 13th century)
  • Important Cultural Properties of Japan of the Kasuga-Taisha Shrine
    6 Bugaku masks (Sanju , Kobobase,Chiky ū, Shintoriso, Nasori, 12th century; Kitoku-Koikuchi, 16th century)


Gigaku Mask: Suiko-jū, Important Cultural Property of Japan/8th century, Collection of Tōdai-ji Temple (Photo by Miro Ito)

Proceeds from the sales of photo books will fund public relations activities for Japanese culture on the Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative website and the creation of media such as books and films, under our motto to promoting Japanese cultural contribution to the world. We will also utilise it for collaboration with museums and educational/research institutions worldwide.

Time Theatre: Gunkanjima Island (Dancer: KiK_7/Photo by Miro Ito)



Noh play Hagoromo  by Noh actor, Hodaka Komparu (Photo by Miro Ito)

Cover of Photo book: Signs of the Intangible by Miro Ito

Noh play Ema by Noh actor, Tomoyuki Takeda (Photo by Miro Ito)

Signs of the Intangible is a collection of photographs by photo artist Miro Ito, which captures the history of Japan's 1400-year mind-and-body-unity culture from a unique perspective. Introducing body-mind-scapes where Japanese prayers and belief in dedicatory, repentance and slavation interact, including Gigaku and Bugaku masks that were introduced over 1400 years ago, Noh that became established as theatrical drama since the 14th century, and the avant-garde Butoh as well as modern dance.
Includes 106 photographs with new and unpublished works that also serve as the catalogue accompanying the international exhibitions series.

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Noh play Atsumori by Tomoyuki Takeda, Kanze school Noh actor (Photo by Miro Ito)
Quick Silver by Ko Murobushi (Photo by Miro Ito)
inter/action by Sal Vanilla (Photo by Miro Ito)