Mother Forest

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‘Mother Forest’

I photograph Japanese beeches as my main subject. Because I am fascinated by the seasonal changes of beech trees and their overwhelming beauty.

Why am I so fascinated by beech? Because I am Japanese. What has built the spiritual culture of the Japanese people nowadays? Because if we trace back to its origins, we find that one answer lies in the beech.

Beeches in Japan are concentrated in the northern part of the Sea of Japan, where there is heavy snowfall, and it is said that the majority of ancient Japanese people were concentrated in this area and lived while receiving rich blessings from the beech forests. The foundations of the Japanese psyche were built on coexistence with nature, particularly beech forests, and beech also had a major influence on the Japanese religious and moral outlook. The beech forests should be called ‘Mother Forest’ for us.

I am probably attracted to beech because the scenes, air, smells and sounds of beech forests stimulate the senses and awaken a deeper Japanese consciousness.

Incidentally, there is a theory that human civilisation developed with the benefit of temperate broadleaved forests, mainly of the beech family, and migrated in search of such forests. If this is the case, beech forests may be said to be the common ‘Mother Forest’ of all humanity.

Beech forests, which once existed in many parts of the northern hemisphere, have largely been lost due to development and climate change. Due to a combination of various requirements, the primeval beech forests that remained in the Japanese archipelago are now a treasure of the earth. As someone who happened to be born here at this time, in a time span far beyond human imagination, I photograph with a sense of mission the primeval beech forests that are the ‘Mother Forest’ of humanity left on earth.

Photographer Kazuo Katahira








写真家 カタヒラ カズオ

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