Yamamoto Masao | Publisher’s Note

January 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

Publisher’s Note:

Sunday, November 7, 2011:John Wood (my dear friend of twelve years, as well as editor and co-founder of 21ST Editions) and I leave about 8AM for Amtrack in Providence to greet and retrieve Yamamoto Masao, his wife Reiko, and his manager Seiko Uyeda. We’ve corresponded with Masao and Reiko with the generous help of Seiko translating for us, but this is our first meeting. The three appear at once together and recognize something about us. They are instantly delightful.

On the way back to Cape Cod, Seiko tells us of a story that Masao related on the train fromNew York to Providence.  For some reason, he met a Master of sorts, a man whose Japanese sword – a Stradivarius of swords, a work of art – meant a great deal to him. He insisted that Masao take it home with him to photograph and then send it back via UPS! Upon his next visit with the Master, and to Masao’s surprise, he told him that the sword’s energy revealed that Masao had a difficult time photographing it, which he did.

As soon as we crossed the Bourne Bridge, John suggested that we offer the front seat to Masao so he could photograph while we traveled toward Brewster on the old historic Route 6A. He reluctantly agreed and after a short time said that the road was “too beautiful to photograph” and that what he liked revealing in his work were imperfections. By his face I could tell the belief was firmly rooted.

I had in mind to turn down Keveney Lane in Barnstable to show everyone one of my favorite spots where a small bridge crossed an inlet with a strong tide, whether coming in or going out. As I approached the left turn, I saw “Bridge Closed,” but I turned anyway. It was a cold day while we passed this hooded young man on the left, walking slow and determined. He turned and nodded as if he expected us. Without having mentioned it first, Masao later confirmed to me this same recognition.

I stopped the car in front of the gravel pile blocking the street and opened my door to find a hollowed on one side and decomposing tree trunk. In the center was a lovely ceramic vase with a partly broken rim at the narrowed top. I thought, imperfection! I looked at Masao and he jumped from the car with his camera like he was greeting an old friend. From the driveway on the other side of the car appeared a man who greeted us. He said that he had just placed the vase in the tree trunk, but at the time wasn’t sure why.  Then, without missing a beat, the young man we had passed on the way appeared on foot carrying a Japanese sword and explained he was studying Japanese martial arts and that he had been taking that precise walk for two years.

In these brief and lyrical moments, Masao, Reiko, Seiko, John, and I together were witnesses in unison to our own completely uninterrupted attention. Was this a gift brought by a Master? He would likely not have had intended it, because he was just being Yamamoto Masao.

Steven Albahari

Yamamoto Masao

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