A photographic exploration of a remote island between two cultures
Sakhalin, the Russian island north of Hokkaido, has changed possession between Russia and Japan (where the island is known as Karafuto) several times in the past centuries, sometimes peacefully, other times with violence. Driven by an interest to experience Sakhalin’s unique historical legacy for himself, Japanese photographer Naoki Ishikawa visited the island twice, once in winter 2009 and again in summer 2014, to document the diverse culture, nature and history of this remote island. During his trip, Ishikawa encountered Sakhalin’s indigenous peoples, photographed a reindeer festival and visited a memorial for northern minorities who died in the war. In his extensive afterword, Ishikawa writes about his journey and the people he encountered, in particular a middle-aged Nivkh man named Choji who still understood Japanese.
“Every time I see Choji I am reminded that there are histories and facts that we do not know or we will never come to know. Sakhalin is a remote region for Russia, just like Karafuto was a remote region for Japan. Within this twofold relationship, Choji, a Nivkh, kept a certain distance with both. ”
— from Naoki Ishikawa’s afterword (included in Japanese & English translation)