West Encounters East Travels to Japan

Yutaka Toyota next to one of his sculptures in Japan.

Recently, executive producer Stella Holmes and producer Linda Corley traveled with their production team to Japan for the second leg of field production of the upcoming one-hour documentary West Encounters East: The Japanese Brazilians, which explores the artistic expressions of Brazilian artists of Japanese descent.

The team traveled for more than 10 days to various cities and towns across Japan, covering the local contemporary art scene, meeting living legends in the Japanese art world, and visiting the country’s top museums and art galleries, such as the Tokyo Gallery, the city’s oldest gallery dedicated to contemporary art.

Traveling north on Japan’s famed bullet train to a mountainous area known as the Japanese Alps, the team photographed beautiful vistas and quaint towns, including Tendo, the birthplace of Yutaka Toyota (b. 1931), one of the artists featured in West Encounters East. Toyota, who has become a legend in the art community in Brazil, took Holmes and her team to visit some of his monumental sculptures that grace the landscape of Japan, including his impressive pieces at the Tendo City Museum.

Contemporary art was a focus for much of the trip, but the team took a break from the new and traveled to one of Japan’s oldest cities, Kyoto, the country’s capital for 1,000 years. In this ancient city, they toured the Kiyomizu Temple. While shooting a segment for the documentary, the team encountered the unveiling of a Buddha statue commemorating the 20,000 souls lost during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This was perhaps the most impressive artwork encountered by the documentary team, as it was carved by art students out of an oak tree that had washed ashore during the tsunami. It honored those who had died, and also bore witness to the resilience of the Japanese people and the rebounding spirit that is Japan.

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