Reflections of Syogarou
An exhibition of diverse creative work inspired by spoken word stories and research surrounding Shiogama’s prized heritage building.
Date: From Saturday, March 13th through Wednesday March 31st, 2021. Free Admission.
Kyu Kamei Tei (The Former Kamei House)
Located at 5-5 Miyamachi, Shiogama, Miyagi (Google Maps)
Open from 10:00-15:30 from Fridays to Mondays (Closed all other days).
Artists: UJIIE Kodai and TANAKA Nozomi
Ichibankan Building, 1F, north windowside
Located at 1-1 Motomachi, Shiogama, Miyagi (Google Maps)
Open 24 hours (The artworks are visible from the building’s outdoor window)
Artists: The JUNBI Supporter Team (SAT De Los Angeles and SAKAZUME Naoko)
*Please note that the Syogarou building itself is currently closed to the public.
About the exhibit
“Reflections of Syogarou” takes you back into the Edo Era (between 1603 to 1868), at a time where Shiogama City was designated and nurtured as a port of entry for the Date Clan’s Mutsu Province, the precursor to today’s Tohoku Region, and the owners of Sendai Castle.
At the center of Shiogama’s growth is a prized Japanese traditional building once captured by the Date Clan called Syogarou – a place that has a view from the balcony that is so unique and so beautiful that even the best painters fail to imitate on canvas.
This place, located on Mount Ichimoriyama, is known for its unique foundational structure called kakezukuri – sharing the same style as Kyoto’s Kinkakuji.
Approximately located close to the same peak as Shiogama Shrine, Syogarou overlooks Shiogama’s historical Chiganoura Port area, and has been used by the Date family over generations. Starting from its mysterious origins as a satellite office for a buddhist temple to a samurai lord’s dressing chamber, a resthouse for the Japanese emperor to an exquisite Showa-era restaurant.
After various incarnations, the building’s search for relevance and meaning in the 21st century continues today through this exhibit, as we tap on the artistic creativity of people who share a collective curiosity and hunger to understand Syogarou’s past glory – and make it come alive to a new generation of residents across Tohoku, as well as taking it into the international spotlight.
Through the course of the year 2020 and into early 2021, the Shiogama Sugimura Jun Museum of Art invited a diverse selection of established artists and extremely talented volunteers from various disciplines to make this happen – through extended research, interviews, creation and translation.
Independently and collectively, this exhibition is a curation of their field work and expression of ideas they carefully reflected on with regards to the building’s past glory – through ceramics, painting, writing, digital illustration, journalism, and sound art.
We hope you will take this opportunity to experience, understand, and appreciate Shiogama’s rich and diverse cultural heritage from a fresh perspective through walking around and seeing the artworks on display across Shiogama City’s historical buildings.
Kyu Kamei Tei (The Former Kamei House)
Artwork created by UJIIE Koudai
Shiogama-san Gendo Syogarou Tokkuri Utsushi (Japanese title): A reproduction of a sake (rice wine) serving container and other miscellaneous serveware made from Shiogama clay
About the artwork:
Ujiie’s pottery work focuses on the period when Syogarou was sold to the private sector and functioned as a high-class Japanese restaurant between the late Meiji era (early 1910s) to the mid-Showa era (late 1960s).
In line with his desire to deeply understand the public’s memories of Syogarou from the perspective of craftwork, and link those fading memories into the present, he used materials and dug out from the grounds surrounding Syogarou in downtown Shiogama and created an originally crafted clay in order to create his potterywork.
His work aims to help rekindle the restaurant’s tangible items and the emotions that evoke into people’s memories, based on spoken word narratives about the dishes that were served and the serveware which were used during Syogarou incarnation as an elite restaurant decades ago.
About the artist:
Ujiie is a ceramic artist, born in 1990 in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, and makes art at his studio in neighboring Shibata Town. He graduated from the Tohoku University of Art and Design’s Graduate School of Arts and Engineering Division, with a Master’s in Art and Handcrafts, completed in 2015.
He has been touted as a promising new ceramic artist, as his works have been published in art magazines in Japan. As of recent, he has held solo exhibitions in Japan and abroad under the theme of the future of craft in global capitalism – one in 2019 and another in 2021, both in Tokyo. In 2018, he was selected to showcase his work as the official artist-in-residence for the museum’s emerging artists support program Voyage.
Artwork created by TANAKA Nozomi
Kitsune no Tomoshibi (Tentative Japanese title): The fox’s lamp
About the artwork:
Tanaka created five individual scenic paintings which represent Syogarou’s five different eras over its history, based on her extensive research. The eras she painted showcased each of Syogarou’s unique primary function in each scene – from the time it was a satellite office of Horenji Temple, to the rest station era of the Sendai feudal lord in the 18th century, the time it was a provisional palace during the Emperor Meiji’s pilgrimage to Tohoku in the 19th century, the time it was high-class Japanese restaurant in the 20th century, and into the building’s current preservation activities in the 21st century.
Tanaka specializes in depicting historical scenes by representing people with animals. For this exhibition, a fox was chosen. Through her illustrative paintings she expresses, the stories of Syogarou and Shiogama during each period come to life with her imaginative visually attractive and fantasy world-like approach to storytelling.
About the artist:
A painter born in 1989 in Sendai City and also currently lives in Sendai City, Miyagi. She is a graduate from the Tohoku University of Art and Design’s Graduate School of Arts and Engineering with a Ph.D. in Art Engineering in 2017. Based on various interviews, Tanaka attempts to express herself through different kinds of art such as paintings, illustrations, picture books, and essay writing.
She has been participating in local art projects since 2012, and has stayed and worked in many places practicing art across Japan such as Miyagi, Yamagata, Akita, Niigata, and Nara Prefectures. Her latest project brings herself to Yamagata’s Tateyazawa district in February 2021, where she works as a member of the community revitalization cooperation team.
In 2018, she was selected to showcase his work as the official artist-in-residence for the museum’s emerging artists support program Voyage.
On exhibit at the Shiogama Ichibankan building’s window display
Artwork created by JUNBI Supporters:
SAT De Los Angeles (text and illustration) and SAKAZUME Naoko (translation)
space:reimagined (Japanese title): Arata ni Souzousareru Kuukan
About the artwork
In a tribute for his deep appreciation for Japanese underground indie art and popular culture, the artwork is a representation of the Jishuben, a self-study notebook typically used by Japanese school students. The so-called Jishuben represents the artist as a student trying to understand the essence and soul of Shiogama.
In a quest to discover Syogarou’s past, Sat joined artists and museum staff in conducting on-site interviews and research with people who had various connections to Syogarou. The project aims to not only understand its history, but also discover Shiogama’s heritage and its remarkable evolution from a historical port town to an artistic and cultural hub – from an international perspective to share with the world.
For the Canadian-born longtime resident of Shiogama City, the artwork is a curation of his experience with this project, his research, and his reflections about the city to which he has made it his current home for over half-a-decade.
Sat is joined by Sakazume Naoko, a professional freelance translator specializing in the local art scene in Tohoku. Sakazume brings her passion for language, her artistic expertise and her extensive experience in Japanese-language longform storytelling in order to make Sat’s artwork accessible to the locals of Shiogama, as well as the wider Japanese audience.
About the artists
SAT De Los Angeles is an interdisciplinary artist & language instructor, working as an Assistant language Teacher for Shiogama City through the Miyagi Prefecture JET (Japan Exchange and Training Programme). Born in Montreal, Canada, he graduated from Concordia University in 2015, with a major in Journalism. Prior to teaching, he was a DJ and independent producer for two of Montreal’s English-language college-community radio stations.
SAKAZUME Naoko is a freelance professional translator. She specializes in writing about Tohoku’s local art scene for a variety of different organizations. Born in Aichi Prefecture, she has lived overseas in Europe. A long-time language enthusiast, her journey found her way back to Japan – to her current home of Shiogama, where is the lead coordinator for JUNBI Supporters, the museum’s volunteer team.
About JUNBI Supporters
JUNBI Supporters are talented, motivated, and passionate volunteers who provide a variety of support for the Shiogama Sugimura Jun Museum of Art.
With the name being an acronym of the museum’s Japanese name, JUN Sugimura for the Shiogama-based artist and BIjutsukan, the Japanese word for museum, they are volunteers who care deeply about art, and together they help make it friendly, fun, and accessible to the wider public.
JUNBI’s main activities include but are not limited to – guiding visitors to various in-house museum exhibitions, supporting art/creative workshop activities, assisting with preparation for museum events, and multilingual translation and interpretation activities for international residents, inbound tourists, and language learners.
Anyone who has a passion for art or a curiosity for Shiogama is always welcome to join, regardless of nationality or living location within Miyagi.
Translated by JUNBI Supporters