Vietnam Art Books -- Japanese photographer's love for Vietnam (April 30, 2005)

Japanese photographer's love for Vietnam (April 30, 2005)

A first glimpse of the photo exhibit now on display at the Ho Chi Minh City Journalists' Association would leave one to assume that the images were taken by a Vietnamese photographer.

But the name of the exhibit, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the liberation of Southern Vietnam, reveals otherwise.

Of the 150 photos on display at the Hitomi and Friends exhibition, 110 were taken by Japanese photographer Hitomi Toyama.

The photos feature people and scenery across Vietnam, from rural areas to big cities, revealing the photographer's love and interest in the country.

"I love Vietnam. I love the active people in this country, which is changing very rapidly every day," Hitomi said.

Born in Fuji City in Shizuoka, Japan, Hitomi won prizes and fame for her work in Japan before her interest turned to Asian countries in the early 1990s.

Hitomi first came to Ho Chi Minh City as a tourist 13 years ago, when the country was in the first years under the doi moi (renovation) process.

She noticed that the city was busy and dynamic, similar to what Japan was like in the post-war period.

However, the difficulties and challenges encountered by a foreign visitor in Vietnam at that time did not discourage her from returning to the country two years later.

Toyama Hitomi and her photos recently taken in Hoa Binh Village.

During her second visit to Vietnam in 1994, Hitomi bought a Honda motorcycle and rode it on a 10,000 tour across the country.

The traps-Viet tour resulted in the Vietnam Dream photo exhibition held in Shinjuku, Tokyo in 1995.

Her following visits to Vietnam left her with thousands of images for her next exhibition.

In 1997 she hosted the Vietnam Typhoon exhibit at the Youth Culture House in Ho Chi Minh City and at the Unica Plaza in Tokyo.

In 2003, Hitomi's Light and Wind of Vietnam exhibit was held both in Hanoi and Tokyo as part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Vietnam-Japan diplomatic relations.

And at the tourism festival at the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2004, she displayed her Sources of Light exhibit.

A photo by Hitomi of the Mekong Delta.
To prepare for her current exhibition, Hitomi set off again on another transViet tour in February, where she traversed the Ho Chi Minh Highway and saw former battlefields.

The 6,500km tour took her more than one month and brought her to places which had witnessed bloody battles.

Among the changes she saw were the upgraded sections of Ho Chi Minh Highway, formerly the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a route that had contributed significantly to the resistance war against the US.

She also was pleased to see that the nha nhac (court music) of Hue had been recognised by UNESCO as an "intangible cultural heritage of the world". "But I was distressed that Agent Orange still is having an impact on the third generation of Vietnam," Hitomi said.

Photographers Dang Ngoc Thai and Do Lan Huong of Hanoi have also contributed 20 photos each to the Hitomi and Friends exhibition, which runs till May 2 at the Ho Chi Minh City Journalists' Association 14 Alexandre de Rhode Street District 1.

Hitomi said she has plans for a new photo exhibition on Vietnam, which she hopes will further cement relations between Vietnam and Japan. (VNS)

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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