Graphic Designer and Photographer Michiko Chiyoda is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay. From the ‘Starting a New Journey’ project. To see Michiko’s body of work, click on any image.
After a long struggle with sickness, my mother passed away. Since then I have made a lot of trips. I have chosen to visit seaside, because I remember what my mother used to say to me before she died. “Michiko, I want to go to the seaside and feel the breeze.” While seeing the horizon way out there, all the memories with her was back to me. We often took a walk together around the open fields in our neighborhood. As she was a good walker, I think she would enjoy walking around the seashore tirelessly. Now, she’s gone and I can’t see and touch her again. However, I feel her all the more because I know that I can never build up the relationship with her any more.
‘Osorezan’, is one of the places I visited, which is located in the northern tip of the Honshu island. This sacred site has lasted over a thousand years. It is known as the place where people can contact with the departed. People who visit there might hold various memories. They try to console their spirits of their loved one by piling up stones and laying flowers. I did the same thing as other people did when I visited there. In this distinctive landscape, where is really serene, I felt it was the right place to talk with her.
What does “mourning for a departed soul” mean? When you lost someone, you might feel that person deep in your mind. And you might recall the relationship and memories of events with them. Whatever they are, even they didn’t work out and had hefty emotions.
People, to each other, are existing others. However, once they die, their materiality become to exist only in someone’s mind. A departed could assimilate into one’s mind, so to speak, and become a part of that person as their memories. I have been asking myself that one’s feelings toward a departed is their internal conflict, and what mourning means is to keep going forward with that conflict.
On realizing it, I felt that I merged with all the memories of my mother rather than living with them. At the same time, it was strange but the loneliness came up to my mind. I have never felt like that before. It’s sad a little bit but I found the feeling of elation had grown in my mind, too. It is like the feeling before starting a new journey.
It was indescribable fear, despite no direct damage on myself. Close to 16,000 people died and over 2,500 people are still missing by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and Tsunami, occurred on March 11th, 2011. It has certainly changed my way to see “Life” since then. I myself have experienced very sad occasions of the death of some of my family members and friends in a row after the disaster.
This work reflects my thoughts and confusion created through the journey of mourning a person, my mother.
Eventually this gave me a key to open the door to my new adventure; making this artwork.
All images & text © Michiko Chiyoda
By Michiko Chiyoda