BEING THERE / EIJI OHASHI
After “Roadside Lights”, Eiji Ohashi’s next photographic exploration of the ubiquitous vending machines and the role they play in Japanese society.
“After snowfall, especially when driving in the north during snowstorms, sometimes the light from the vending machines helps me find my way. In these moments, the vending machines along the roadsides remind me of the hatted Jizō.” — Eiji Ohashi
"The “hatted Jizō” mentioned by Ohashi appear in a well-known Japanese folk tale. A poor but kind-hearted old man gives up the last of his bamboo hats to protect Jizō figures (buddhist statues) on the roadside from falling snow, and is then richly rewarded for his kindness.
Ohashi’s photography brings out a strong sense of presence in the vending machines which, like the Jizō statues, cannot act of their own will. His snowy landscapes, lit only by the light of the vending machines, are particularly beautiful. The nightly snow scenes, taken when everyone else has sunk into sleep, invite their viewers into a world of deep thought. Looking at his images of vending machines standing in fields or in the middle of a town, we become aware of their human elements, their patient endurance of loneliness.
In Ohashi’s monochromatic images, weaved only of light and shadow, the individuality of each vending machine emerges further, breathing new life into an everyday sight."
— from TOP Museum curator Kazuko Sekiji’s afterword