Finding an answer to the critical questions of the world
On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we certainly are facing some of the toughest challenges in our lifetimes: the compounded impacts of pandemic, climate change, ongoing political uncertainties amid growing economic, religious and racial tensions. For people around the globe, the last 1-2 years have been especially trying on everyone’s patience as has all but disappeared.our normal way of life.
At the recent TOKYO 2020 Olympics as well as Paralympics, the world’s best athletes/para athletes representing assorted nationalities and races faced off in tough competition. Many athletes reflect the positive results of turning adversity into an opportunity despite the one-year postponement of the events due to the corona-virus pandemic.
Patience reminds us that it can be a force by itself. Concurrently, it is becoming more and more evident that the world shares one common fate. In an increasingly fragmented world, on the cusp of a new era ushered in by the Corona pandemic we may yet gain a new awareness for the notion that the world is one and we are all one.
This awareness is inseparable from other global crises: climate change and the widening riffs among humanity.
Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative
After the 9/11 that I experienced first hand in New York, I launched the project, Road of Light and Hope an appeal for the unity of the world and a quest for evidence of East-West cultural exchange within Japan’s 1400-year history. During the twenty years that passed since then, I have visualized the links between Japan’s culture and the Silk Road in exhibitions, books, and films.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, my world traveling exhibitions were held in 12 cities in 11 countries, 2016 – 2019. They were co-organized with Japan’s Permanent Mission to the UN, various Japanese diplomatic missions around the globe, the Japan Foundation, and the Japan Camera Industry Institute (JCII). During the subsequent hiatus in my exhibition activities due to the effects of the pandemic, I firmly grasped the opportunity to launch the Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative as a forum for Japan-centred cultural activities.
The main objective of this initiative is to ascertain how we can enable Japanese culture that has benefitted from the countries along the Silk Road, throughout its 1400-year history, to in turn contribute to the future of the world. To this end, our initiative aims to establish an art foundation in the medium term while creating our own “media = art + message”, recruiting like minded individuals with the same aspirations as our team members.
Cinepoetry: Nara, Japan’s First Imperial Capital and Eastern Terminus of the Silk Road (33 min)
As part of the new website, allow me to introduce you to my latest film project Nara, Japan’s First Imperial Capital and Eastern Terminus of the Silk Road ~ a cultural corridor to 1400 years of spiritual tradition which I have been photographing/filming for over 15 years since 2005 and which embodies my deep love for Nara and its incredible surviving heritage of the ancient Silk Road.
This 33-minute film that was presented by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs cluster project, Ikasu-Nara Regional Council, was directed, photographed and written by myself. Shooting took place from 2006 to January 2021. It introduces the traditions of the Six Great Nanto Temples and the Kasuga-Taisha Shrine in Nara, situated at the easternmost terminus of the Silk Roads and as the 1400-year sacred site of Japanese Shintō and Buddhist syncretism.
In honour of this year’s 1400th anniversary of Prince Shōtoku’s death, the film starts with an introduction of his great achievements, which pioneered international exchange in the Far East by building a nation founded on Buddhist tenets, culminating in the building of the Great Buddha statue by Shōmu Tennō a century later; a reconstruction project to overcome a national crisis and placate the people during the mid 8th century.
The film continues to introduce the mystic Buddhist rituals introduced by Tang Dynasty monk, Jianzhen (Ganjin in Japanese) who was invited to Japan by Shōmu Tennō. The magnificent traditions of Shinto and Buddhist syncretism impacted the plastic/sculptural and performing arts until the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century. The film simultaneously presents the evidence for, as well as the essence of, East-West cultural exchange being alive and well in Nara.
After premiering at the Nara Prefectural Iraka Hall on 6th February 2021, this film can now be seen on the YouTube channel of the Nara Prefecture Historical & Cultural Resources Utilisation Department.
To obtain more information and/or view the film, please go to the Cinepoetry page:
We cordially invite you to join us in the Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative. If you are interested, please visit the web site (https://japan-authentic-heritage-initiative.org/en/).
Last but not least, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all who contributed to or aided the launch of the Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative.
As we pray that the raging coronavirus pandemic might subside soon, we hope our engagement for the unity of the world may help us cope with these worsening global crises.
11th September 2021
Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative
Photo and text by Miro Ito, Japan Authentic Heritage Initiative/Media Art League. All rights reserved.