Azusa Miyamoto photographed her series “Ruscus Flowers” in the city of Hirosaki in northern Japan. Hirosaki is the city where her mother was born and raised. Miyamoto, herself born in Tokyo, has no connection to this place other than her grandparents, whom she visits from time to time. “I didn’t grow up here. I don’t know how to spend the winters. I don’t understand the Tsugaru dialect,” she writes in her foreword.
This strange but fascinating sense of distance, of belonging-but-not-belonging, permeates the series like a haunting ghost. Miyamoto photographs strangers and local customs, from festivals to holiday decorations, with the same matter-of-factness and detachment with which she documents her grandmother and her home.
“Salmon rice balls, maitake cooked rice, egg soup. Whenever I go home, I always have my grandmother make them.
Hirosaki City, Aomori, where my mother was born.
I didn’t grow up here.
I don’t know how to pass the winters.
I don’t understand the Tsugaru dialect.
I walk to the hot springs in the next city over, and on the way back, I stop by Sakurano. After a night of drinking in Kajimachi, I take a taxi back home.
I sneak up the stairs and quietly open the door.”
― Azusa Miyamoto’s foreword (text included in Japanese & English)