In 1960, the population of the group of islands known as Amakusa was 210,000. Today it has fallen to 114,000, and Amakusa has become Japan’s most rapidly depopulating area. The islands’ ubiquitous shuttered storefronts are a sign of this decline. From the people who grew up here I hear stories of lively bars, favorite restaurants, and crowded festivals of the past. With this project, I invite Amakusa residents to display their memories at these once vibrant spaces.
For this purpose I have created 200 balls wrapped in red thread . They are inspired by the process of the elaborate, decorative craft famous in Amakusa called temari (手毬). I call the balls omoidemari, which combines temari with the Japanese word for memory,omoide (思い出). For the participatory element, I worked with the town of Ushibuka to incorporate the project into their annual Haiya Festival. There I invited residents to attach their memories of Haiya and Ushibuka to the balls and then place them in various downtown locations. In the end, I distributed around 100 pieces. Currently, a dozen or so of the works, memories attached, are on permanent display in Ushibuka businesses. I am also in discussions with the town on how to repeat the project for next year’s Haiya Festival.