SATORU WATANABE

空を見上げると西に大きく雲が張り出してきた。しばらくすると空の半分近くがカーテンを引いたような薄墨色の雲で覆われる。

As I looked up into the sky, a cloud started to spread from the west. Very soon, a thin gray cloud covered the skies like a curtain.

すると大きな雪の破片がひらりと風にのって落ちてきた。そしてそれは徐々に勢いを増し目の前が見えなくなるほどの勢いで降り始めた。

Fragments of snow traveled with the wind, and before long, it started to fall so heavily that my eyes could no longer see.

音は何も聞こえない。すべては雪に包まれて消えていく。

No sounds were heard. The snow covers and fades out everything.

雲が幾重にも層を成して黒く重くのしかかる。

Clouds stack up in many layers and hang darkly over me.

山形県米沢市。周囲をぐるりと山に囲まれた盆地に生まれ育った。夏は猛暑に、冬には背丈を越える雪が積もる。

The city of Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture. I was born and raised in a basin surrounded by mountains. In the summer we were immersed in an intense heat, and in the winter, we were covered in towering piles of snow.

「雪がなければどんなにいいか」冬になるたび繰り返される大人たち節の挨拶のようなものだった。

“How nice would it be if there was no snow.” It’s a greeting we like to say to each other as we welcome the winter season every year.

"da.gasita"とは米沢の方言で、「そうですね」という軽い相槌に使われる言葉だ。本当は「んだがした」と頭に鼻濁音がはいる。

“da.gashita”, in the Yonezawa dialect, stands for “Oh I see…”, which is used when making a casual nod of agreement. To be exact, it should be said with a nasal sound – “Un, dagashita.”

東京育ちの妻が何度練習しても正しい「んだがした」にはならない。米沢を離れて30年もたつ僕にはたやすいことなのに。

My wife who was raised in Tokyo practices saying “Un, dagashita” a lot, but just doesn’t sound quite right. On the other hand, it comes easy to me, even though I’ve been away from Yonezawa for thirty years now.

3月も終わりになると一雨ごとに暖かさを増し、ある日突然春はやってくる。

At the end of March, it becomes warmer with every rain shower. Spring seems to come suddenly, almost overnight.

朝方、通勤通学の足としてにぎわう車内も、その時間を一本外れると車内にはレール音だけが響く。車窓から見える景色は昔と何も変わっていない。山と里と川を繋いで走る。

If you miss the train packed with morning commuters, you can only hear the echo of the rail tracks in the next train. The only thing that has not changed since the old days is the scenery outside the train window. The scenery connects the villages, the mountains and the rivers together.

山は切り立つ壁となって覆いかぶさるように見えた。その先にも世界があるということを幼い頃の僕は知らなかった。

The mountains seem to be like a wall hovering over the city. In my younger days, I never knew that another world existed beyond that wall.

その先にも世界があることを知った時に家出を決意した。小学校二年生の夏だった。

When I learned of the existence of a world beyond that wall, I decided to run away from home. It was in the summer of my second grade in elementary school.

リュックに煎餅と水筒を詰め、家族に気付かれないように朝早く家を出た。繁華街ではなく、山へ向かってまっすぐ歩き始めていた。

I left my home early in the morning, wary of being noticed by my family. With a canteen and some rice crackers that I had packed in a rucksack the night before, I began to walk straight, not downtown, but straight towards the mountains.

山の向こう側に行きたかった。

I wanted to see the world that lay beyond those mountains.

「雪の日」

唐突に幼い頃の冬の記憶がある。おぼろげではなく、今でも雪を踏む感触まで憶えている。妹が母の背におぶわれていたから、僕はまだ4歳だ。夕刻、母は妹を背負い、僕の手を引き雪の米沢の町を歩いている。どこかに寄るとか、買い物をするわけでもなく、ただ歩いている。小さな繁華街だから何度も同じところを行ったり来たりしている。母の手を離すと置いていかれるような気がして手をしっかり握っていた。道路の端に雪が山となって盛り上がり歩きづらい。小降りの雪が頬にあたって溶け、冷たさを増す。いつもならぐずっているところだが、その日に限って文句を言ってはならぬような気配が母の背から伝わってきた。長靴の中は雪が入り込み、靴下は指先のほうで丸まっている。溶けた雪が靴の中で音を鳴らしている。足先の冷たさと、歩き疲れたのとでついに泣き出した。母は怒ることもなく、近くのおもちゃ屋のドアを開けた。そこは普段行っていたお店より高級で、めったに入ることはなかったところだ。お店に入ると長靴の中の雪を払い、足先を手ぬぐいで丁寧に拭いてくれた。濡れた靴下の代わりにハンカチを敷いてもらうとよやく足先に暖かさが戻った。目の前には眩しいほどのおもちゃの山。いつものお店では見たことのないようなものがあふれていた。物言わぬ母を背中で感じながら、気持ちは目の前から離れない。「ひとつなら買ってもいい」と母が言った。だがいつもように喜べない。値段の高そうなものは母を悲しませるような気がした。自分の目線の先に見慣れたブリキのおもちゃが見えた。もういくつ買ってもらったか分からない、ネズミが飛び出るカメラだ。シャッターのボタンを押すと、レンズ部分の蓋が開き、バネ仕掛けのネズミが「チュウ」と鳴って飛び出す。それが好きで何度も買ってもらったのだが、安物のせいかすぐに壊れてしまう。母にそれを差し出すと黙って買ってくれた。僕はその紙包みを受け取ると「帰んべ」と母に言った。それからのことは覚えていない。雪の季節になると、その数時間のことを毎年思い出す。その日のことを母に尋ねたことはない。妹が生まれた頃、祖母と折り合いが悪かったことを知ったのはずいぶん大人になってからだった。。

On One Snowy Day

A memory of one winter day from my childhood flashes through my mind. This memory is so vivid that I still remember how the snow felt under my footsteps. My mother was carrying my baby sister on her back, so I must have been only four years old at the time. With my baby sister strapped on my mother’s back, she held my hand as we walked in the town of Yonezawa that one evening. We were neither out shopping nor did we have a place to be – we simply just strolled about town. Since downtown was small, we just walked back and forth. I held my mother’s hand tightly, fearing that I would get left behind should I let go. On the side of the road was a mountain of cleared snow that made it very difficult to walk. I could feel it getting colder as the snow hit my cheek and melted. I was usually an irritable child, but on that particular evening I had no complaints as I stared at her back. My socks curled up at the toes as the snow got into my boots. The melted snow made the insides of my boots so wet that they started making noises. My cold feet and the fatigue from all the walking finally got to me, and I finally burst into tears. Without even a hint of anger, my mother led us to a toyshop nearby. Compared to the toyshops we typically frequented, this one was more upscale and we rarely went into it. After we had entered the store, my mother carefully wiped the snow from the inside of my boots with a towel. She took off my wet socks and placed her handkerchief on the insole of my boots. Slowly I could feel the warmth return to my feet. The store was filled with dazzling piles of toys I was not accustomed to seeing compared to the toy store my mother usually took me to. I couldn’t tear my eyes away despite feeling the presence of my mother as she stood behind me without saying a word. “You can buy one if you like”, said my mother. However, I couldn’t feel happy as I typically would, for I feared that having to pay for such an expensive toy would make my mother sad. From the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar tin toy. It was the same toy camera that was given to me countless times before. Pressing the shutter button opens the lid of the lens and a spring-loaded mouse pops out with a squeak. My uncle also had a camera with a lens that popped up when you pressed the shutter button. The thought of owning a camera that functioned in the same manner delighted me. I bought this toy countless times but it quickly broke because they were very cheaply made. I handed it to my mother and she bought it without saying a word. As I received the paper wrapped package, I said to her, “Let’s go home.” I do not remember what happened for the remainder of that day. Every year, when it starts to snow, I recall those few hours from years gone by. I never asked my mother about that day. As I grew older, I learned that my mother and her mother-in-law did not get along very well ever since my baby sister was born.

SATORU WATANABE 2012 TOSEI publishing TOKYO JAPAN

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SATORU WATANABE
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Satoru Watanabe www.satorw.com Born in Yamagata, Japan in 1961. After he earned his B.A. degree in photography from Nihon University, he worked for a newspaper company for several years. Since then he has been pursuing a career as a professional photographer. He shoots portrait pictures for magazines in Japan and also pictures of his lifework. He is also an author of several books, "Tabisuru Camera (traveling camera) series", about his life as a professional photographer. Bibliography - "prana" Tosei-Sha: Tokyo Japan, 2014 - "da.gasita" Tosei-Sha: Tokyo Japan, 2012 - "traverse" Tosei-Sha: Tokyo Japan, 2007 - "Traveling Camera 1, 2, 3, 4" Ei Publishing: Tokyo Japan, 2003,2004, 2007,2011 - "The Last Sunlight of the Afternoon" Mole: Tokyo Japan, 2000 Solo Exhibitions: “prana", Yakusima, Japan 2016 - Demain", Tokyo, Japan 2016 - prana", Tokyo, Japan 2015 - "Mongolian blue", Tokyo, Japan 2015 - "traverse 1990-2015", Tokyo, Japan 2015 - "traverse2012", Tokyo, Japan 2012 - "Silent Shadow Aomori2011", Tokyo, Japan2011 - "da.gasita 2009", Tokyo, Japan 2009 - "traverse", Tokyo, Japan 2007 - "da-gashita in a summer", Tokyo, Japan 2006 - "da-gashita", Tokyo, Japan 2006 "Portrait-Portraits", Tokyo, Japan 2004 - "Peaceful Days", Tokyo, Japan 2002 - "The Sunlight of the Afternoon ", Tokyo, Japan 2001 - "The Muse Came Down in That Space", Tokyo, Japan 1996 - "Shot My Self", Tokyo, Japan 1993 Collections: -Athens National Museum, Greece 2010“da.gasita” - Griffin Museum, Massachusetts 2009 “da.gasita” “Tokyo Land Scape” - Quai Branly Museum, Paris 2007 “traverse” Exhibitions: "MEET IN ARLES! Y.P.F” Arles 2016 "Yakusima International Photo Festival" Japan 2015 -"Wha’s up photodoc" Paris 2015(Mentioned Best gallery Award) -"Photovision2011" Greece 2010 curated by Martha T.Takayama - "Critic's Pick" Griffin Museum, Massachusetts 2009 "da.gasita: Satoru Watanabe" curated by Martha T.Takayama (virtual exhibition)Griffin Museum of Photography,Winchester, Mass - "Paris Photo", Paris 2008 - "Quai Photo Biennial ", Paris 2007

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