....Ibasyo book journey project on NY Times lens blog.. Ibasyo の貸本プロジェクトがニューヨーク・タイムズで特集されています.... / by Kosuke Okahara

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 18.43.43.png

...."Ibasyo" one of my long-term photographic and book project, is featured on New York Times - Lens blog. 

NY Times article about "Ibasyo" book journey project on Lens Blog

> following is the explanation of this book journey project.

Ibasyo Project

The Ibasyo project is a photographic project that documents the lives of six young Japanese girls who suffer from self-harm. In Japanese, ibasyo refers to the physical and emotional space where one can exist.

Domestic violence, rape, and bullying are some of the reasons behind self-harm. For better or for worse, the “culture of shame”, inherent in Japanese society, has prevented these stories from being told. Domestic violence seems to be prevalent in many families and rape is quite commonplace, yet self-harm victims choose to remain silent. Deep emotional wounds have robbed these girls of their self-esteem. Faced with depression and panic attack disorders, they are unable to live a normal existence. They cannot appreciate their own value, and therefore, believe they are worthless. For these girls, harming themselves is a form of self-punishment for perceived notions of worthlessness, while also easing their anxiety and stress. And so, such destructive behavior has become the way for these girls to reaffirm their own existence. However, when they see their scars, the girls despise themselves more for what they have done. Like the Möbius strip, the cycle is endless. The girls have found it difficult to feel their ibasyo. While the girls don’t justify their acts, the existence of self-harm reflects one of the darker side of Japan’s modern society.

Book Journey Project

For years, I have been trying to publish Ibasyo as a book, but I did not quite succeed. Eventually, I began to rethink and reflect on the original aims I had for this project.

The first aim was to tell the story of these girls. I hope that their stories can serve as a window into the world of those who suffer from self-harm. Also all of the girls I photographed told me that they want to see themselves through someone else’s eyes. It can help them reevaluate themselves. Before they told me that, I could not have imagined that the pictures I took might be of any help.

While I was photographing the girls, I realized that all of them faced the same challenge of not being able to develop their self-esteem. This is due to the trauma that they experienced at various points of their lives. But, if the girls know that other people out there in the world care about them and their stories, then maybe this could be a small step for them to re-develop their self-esteem. In a way, this might sound a little patronizing, but I want the girls to feel that they are important. This is the second aim of the Ibasyo project.

Although both aims are important to me, I now believe that it is not enough to just publish Ibasyo into a book and distribute it. I feel that above all else, to help the girls I photographed should be of first and foremost importance.

As a photographer, I believe that keeping people informed is important. Through my photography, I try my best to commit myself to accomplish this task. However, another part of me, the ordinary person part of me, cannot disagree with what people often say about photographers: that we are making a living on someone else’s grief. I know that I am not as idealistic a person as I was when I first began taking photographs. However, I still want to see what I can do for the people that I photographed. This is why I made this book.

– What I want to do –
I have made six copies of this book. What you will have in your hands is one of the six books. The second half of the books are blank pages. I kindly ask you to write anything you feel. It can be just a thought about the pictures, or a message to the girls, or anything you wish to write down. Even a very short text is fine. I appreciate your kindness.

After letting the books float around for a certain amount of time, I want to bring these six books back to the six girls I photographed, so that they can see there are people out there who recognizes their existence.

– Tangibility –
Since the books will travel around and many different hands will hold and flip through the books, there will most certainly be signs of wear. I think these traces are tangible evidences that people recognizes the story and existence of these girls. The important thing is that, when the girls receive their books, they can then actually touch and feel the traces that viewer of the books have left behind.


ニューヨーク・タイムズの写真専門サイト『レンズブログ』で、Ibasyo プロジェクトについて取り上げて頂いています。

ニューヨーク・タイムズ・レンズブログ (英語)

Ibasyo と貸本のプロジェクトについては、以下をご覧下さい。


Ibasyo / Book journey project.




夜12時を少し過ぎた頃、いつものように携帯電話が鳴った。 「また切っちゃった…。でも大丈夫だよ…」

大丈夫に聞こえないさゆりの声が電話口から聞こえてきた。 「あたしなぁ、レイプされたんよ…。それから自分の価値とか感じられないようになってなぁ…。自分のこと大切にしなさいって色んな人に何度も言われたけど、こんな汚い自分のこと大切にって言われても、どうしたらいいのか分からん のよ」


貧困、レイプ、いじめ、家庭内暴力。自傷行為の裏にあるもの。それらは今まで聞いたことはあっても、実際に近くに 感じたことのないものだった。 日本に存在する「恥の文化」が良い意味でも悪い意味でも、それらが表に出ることを防いできた。東京から1時間 のところに貧困は存在し、借金取りが毎日やってくる生活があった。レイプは僕が卒業した大学内でも起きていた。

深い心の傷は彼女らの自尊心を奪ってしまった。うつやパニック障害のためまともに働くことができない状態に、自らの価値を認識できず、自分は役に立たない存在と思いこんでしまう。その結果の自傷行為。 「価値がない(と思い込んでいる)自分」を傷つけることで、自らの存在を肯定しようとする。しかし、その傷を見ては「してはいけないことをしてしまった」と自己嫌悪に陥る悪循環。そんな彼女たちの生活は苦痛に満ちている。

彼女らは自らの行為を正当化しようとは思っていない。ただ彼女たちの存在は、日本が抱えている現代社会の陰の一 端を示している。







Ibasyo Book journey Project です。






撮影を進めていくと、彼女たちが子どもの時、または大人になってから遭ったトラウマが、彼女たちの自尊心を大きく傷つけたことを知るようになりました。誰しも自分のことはかわいいものですが、 彼女たちは自分自身を受け入れられずに苦しんでいました。





– 目的 –

この写真集は 6 冊あります。撮影させてもらった彼女たちの人数分です。本の後半は白紙です。この本を借りてくださった方に、短くても構いませんので、何か書いて頂ければ嬉しく思います。写真の感想でも、彼女たちへのメッセージでも、どんなことでも構いません。今まで本を借りてくれた人の中には、文章を書いてくれた人もいれば、絵を描いてくれたか人もいます。写真を貼り付けたり、刺繍をしてくれたり、それぞれの方がそれぞれの方法でメッセージを残してくれています。



– 触れられるということ –