The photographs in Gerry Johansson’s 2020 photobook “Ehime” were taken in 1999, during his third visit to Japan. After focusing on Tokyo during his visits in the 1970s and 80s – and the deep impression Tokyo’s transformation and modernity had left on him – Johansson became curious to discover what Japan looks like away from the cities, and an invitation for a residency program afforded him the chance to explore Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.
In carefully constructed (yet seemingly effortless) greyscale photographs taken in Imabari, Uwajima, Tsushima and other parts of Ehime, Johansson concentrates on natural features and signifiers and symbols of Japan’s rural landscape, exploring traditions and the deeper aspects of Ehime’s local culture.
“During my 4-week long stay in Ehime, I had experienced some completely different and much more traditional aspects of Japan. It was, above all else, interesting to see how the symbols of traditional culture and respect for nature lives in modern society. Of course, the question of whether I, a European, understand or misunderstand the symbols remains a relevant one. Quite simply, do I really know what I’m photographing? I am convinced that the images will be interpreted very differently depending on your cultural background. And I like that. That’s how I want it to be.”
― Gerry Johansson