In 2018, I spent my first summer in Japan. At that time, I used to take afternoon walks around the Tama River to release the pressure and boredom of living in the city. On both sides of the river bank, there are large areas of wasteland and woods, in which there seems to be a lot of things to explore, such as traces of vagabond life, artificial facilities like a landscape, various people fishing in strange locations, etc...
Walking along the river from Kawasaki Ukijima (the mouth of the Tamagawa River) to Okutama Town, which is about 167 kilometers away, you can see the city's transformation from noisy and bustling to silent and dying. I was amazed by the intertwining of human traces and natural creations, the stagnant development of new towns and villages, and the activities of city dwellers along the river.
The river is like a link that ties together all the fragmented buildings, people and trivial details, while society is like an invisible plane that compresses these towering buildings, trees and people into an orderly framework, monotonous and repetitive. The river in front of us has been endowed with urban functions, where there are baseball fields and various artificial facilities at regular intervals, and the river distributes its bounty equally to everyone here. It also makes the river wild, as mechanical, orderly and repetitive as human life in the city.
On the hike, exploring through the surface, I saw a lot of everyday sights about the city, but also mixed in with it were sights that I found somewhat strange and off-putting. So I photographed things that I found interesting while hiking along the river. And I wanted to share with the audience that there's still something fun about the urban to pastoral change.
I finished my trip along the river last October. On the ferry to Takamatsu the day after I left Tokyo, the news of the night was playing on the TV: the water level in the Tama River had swollen due to a typhoon, and the floodwaters had surged up the embankment during the torrential downpour, making it an apocalyptic scene. The blue huts of the vagrants were swallowed up, the wastes of the landscape were probably washed away, the baseball field was gone, and the floodwaters spread to the homes of the residents along the riverbank.
The sudden onset of the Corona virus in the winter kept me from coming back around the river. The virus and the flood had something in common, washing down the rules of the old world. It swept away the bikes in the yard.
On the morning the floodwaters recede, in the screen, the camera turns to the riverbank mixed with twigs and mud, the fish pickers on the bank, and the raging water downstream.