Video/Dance Yumi Umiumare ビデオ・ダンス うみうまれゆみ
Music Dan West 音楽 ダンウェスト
Images in the video Photographer/s Unknown ビデオ内写真 撮影者不明


Yumi Umiumare・Letter to Mayu Kanamori

Dearest Mayu-chan, who happened to pick up those 328 photos!!

Thank you for inviting me to your beautiful project. I was completely dragged into the “Showa world”.

How peculiar that these 328 photos were sold at a flea market in Geelong. How and why did these many photos come to Australia?And how weird that those photos were found by you, the documentary artist who always seeks the ‘truth’. They must have been yelling at you, “Please find us!” And you found them!

Looking at these photos, I found a strange sense of nostalgia. Maybe because my mother was a daughter of a hot spring inn, I’ve seen similar pictures many times? I grew up looking at pictures of many geisha who came to the inn and also old pictures of my mother who grew up with eight brothers and sisters when she was a schoolgirl, and I always loved to see them. This time too, I couldn’t help myself searching for my mother, grandparents, and aunts.

Obviously, I couldn’t find the faces of my relatives nor my mother, but I noticed the face of a chubby girl with a round face. The girl appeared in the series of photos many times.

I was drawn to her unique way of being, such as her face, appearing as if trying not cry, her nostalgic gaze, looking into the distance with slight sadness, a face with a mask, whilst being held by her mother, and her facial expression that looks like an old lady’s even as a child. (Later, I noticed that the you chose her photo as number 1 in your series, so wondered if you were also attracted to this girl’s expression too?)

I chose some pictures of this girl, and made a slide show, and for some reason I heard the music of Hibari Misora in my head. The song was called, “I am a child from a city”. When I looked it up, I found that it was released in 1951, right in the middle of the Showa era, and its melody. This gentle, but slightly sad song was perfect BGM, I thought, for this girl’s photos!

I‘m a child from a city, a child around the area
When the window lights up
We walk the usual way

The time of Showa wasn’t a black-and-white monotone world, but thanks to this song and these photos, I’ve already entered this black-and-white world.

Melbourne where I live is still locked down now, but during this Hikikomoiri (withdrawal) times, I was able to learn some rudimentary video editing, so I tried to expand the story by selecting various photos from your collection. Whenever I edit a video through my intuitive/primitive technique, I often find lucky coincidences. And again this time, I happened to pick up few photos showing the back views of women, as they were quite attractive, then found out that the lyrics said, “back view”. Great surprise!

I’m a child from a city, a child around the area
When the lit light goes out again
We meet the usual people
I miss my mother now
The back view looks like hers 


I would have put this slide show as my own “work”, but I thought it won’t be quite interesting enough, so I decided to dance, entering into this monochrome world. I don’t know if it’s the story of this girl or the story of emotional landscapes of many who have passed away, but I danced to feel this 2D world of photography, transforming, going back and forth between 3D and 4D worlds.

I like the phrase “Slice of Memory” that you used in the project about Yasukichi Murakami, which we worked together on a few years ago. I felt like I entered somebody’s ‘slices of memories’ which are obviously ‘untitled’ and ‘unknown’. Thank you for letting me enter this world.

Because it was during the the time of lockdown, obviously I was not able to ask anyone to help me, so I shot this video in my lounge-room, pressing buttons of my phone’s video, and danced by myself. It was quite low technology work, so I ask for your understanding. Lol:)

I was using the music of Hibari Misora ​​to dance, but I replaced it with the music of my longtime collaborator Dan West. When I was thinking about Dan’s music collection, a sound called “Slice of Memory” came to mind (actually, I’ve made this title of our performance five years ago, inspired by your work), and I put that song in. But it felt somehow too cohesive, so looked at the next song, then found this music was called, “Forgotten Memory”! Wow, it was another perfect coincidence, so I decided to use this music in the piece.

Forgotten memories
Memories we want to forget
Memories we don’t want to forget

One photo can be a slice of memory
The two photos can be a fragment of memories
The 328 photos can be a magnificent cosmology of memories

I hope we can meet the owner of those memories someday…

Love Yumi xx

Posted September 2020















私は街の子 巷の子
窓に明かりが 灯る頃
いつもの道を 歩きます



私は街の子 巷の子
ついた明かりが また消えりゃ
いつもの人に 出逢います
今は恋しい 母様に
うしろ姿も そっくりな



数年前マユちゃんと一緒に仕事をさせてもらった村上安吉のプロジェクトで使っていた言葉、「Slice of Memory」という言葉が好きで、今回も「思い出のスライス」「思い出のひとかけら」を私なりに感じてそのひとかけらに入らせてもらえました、ありがとう。


踊りは美空ひばりの音楽を使って踊ったのだけど、長年のコラボレーターDANの音楽で差し替えさせてもらえました。DANの曲を探していると、なんと「Slice of Memory」という曲が出て来て(実は私が5年前の舞台シーンのタイトルとして使うわせてもらってました)、その曲を入れてみたらちょっとまとまりすぎる感じになったので、次の曲をみると、そのタイトルが「Forgotten Memory」!







Yumi Umiumare

Yumi Umiumare
Born in Hyogo, Japan, Yumi is an established Butoh Dancer, choreographer and creator of Butoh Cabaret works. She has been creating her distinctive style of works for 30 years and her works are renowned for provoking visceral emotions and cultural identities. Yumi’s works have been seen in numerous festivals around the globe and have received several Australian Green Room awards including Geoffrey Milne Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to Contemporary & Experimental Performance. She has worked with many socially engaged theatre projects with indiginous, refugee, culturally diverse and disability communities. Yumi is an artistic director of ButohOUT! festival and teaches nationally and internationally.Yumi ‘s recent works focus on Dance, Tea and Spirit.
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