Bringing Japanese Australian history to life
On February 10-21st this year, Japanese-Australian photographer and writer Mayu Kanamori tells her story of exploring Australia’s past through the lost photographs of Yasukichi Murakami. Murakami was a Japanese photographer, entrepreneur and inventor in pre-war Darwin and Broome. Many of his stunning photographs were lost when he was interned during the war. Showing at Sydney’s Griffin Theatre after sold out performances in Darwin, Broome and Adelaide, ‘Yasukichi Murakami –Through a Distant Lens’ merges Murakami’s and Mayu’s photos with music, performance and video, bringing to life the interplay of their stories.
Mayu has kindly agreed to be interviewed to share her perspective on Australia’s Japanese history and how it connects with the present day. To start with, I asked who was Yasukichi Murakami, and why is it important to tell his story?
Mayu: Most people don’t know much about the Japanese history in Australia before WWII. It is as if the violence of war wiped out all memory of Japanese who were here before and contributed during time of peace. The story of the Japanese in Australia did not begin with war – yet that is as far as people seem to remember.
Browsing in the awesome Kimberley Bookshop in Broome I came across Noreen Jone’s book Number 2 Home, which explores the history of the Japanese in Western Australia. I was intrigued: I’d heard a lot about the role of Chinese and Afghan/Pakistani people in Australia’s history, as well as English, Scots, Irish, Greeks and Vietnamese, but very little about Japanese people. I bought it and discovered an intriguing and heart-breaking history of a thriving community that was essentially wiped out with the Second World War. Read the rest of this entry