The photographs of “Ehime” were taken in 1999, during Gerry Johansson’s third visit to Japan. After focusing on Tokyo during his visits in the 1970s and 1980s – with the deep impression that the transformation and modernity of Tokyo had left on him – Johansson grew curious to discover what Japan was like away from the cities, and an invitation for a residency programme offered him the opportunity to explore Ehime, on the island of Shikoku.
In meticulous (but apparently effortless) grayscale photographs taken in Imabari, Uwajima, Tsushima and other parts of Ehime, Johansson focuses on the natural features, meanings and symbols of the Japanese rural landscape, exploring the traditions and deeper aspects of the local culture of Ehime.
“During my 4-week long stay in Ehime, I had experienced some completely different and much more traditional aspects of Japan. It was especially interesting to see how the symbols of traditional culture and respect for nature live on in modern society. Of course, the question whether I, a European, understand or misunderstand the symbols remains relevant. Quite simply, do I really know what I am photographing? I am convinced that the images will be interpreted very differently depending on your cultural background. And I like that. That’s the way I want it to be”.
– Gerry Johansson