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Produced in 2000

Identity in NY

A continuation of some of the text in the desktop publication.

From a paper output sample

To DTP books

Ethan Interview Identity Transcription  

I think life is a cycle of identity formation and re-formation. The pictures I take are some kind of special communication that occurs between the subject and me. From there, the expressions of both the photographer and the photographer are emitted. (Lead) Ethan Levitas is an American writer who creates works on the theme of identity while interacting with Japanese high school students. I learned about it in a Japanese newspaper I read in New York. We asked him about Japan, New York, his identity, his work linked to "Identity in NY", his work in Japan, and his identity.

● Crazy and inhuman Japan and personal and traditional Japan

——First of all, please tell us your first impression of Japan.

I first came to Japan shortly after graduating from university in 1993. The first impression is that you have come to a world that is completely different from the one you are used to living in. Of course, there were many other impressions. Because when I first came to Japan, I first stayed in Tokyo for a few days and then went to rural areas. It was a small town in Nagano prefecture.

Therefore, my impression of Japan is divided into several layers. It may be better to say that Japan has noticed that it has many faces. The first impression was that Japan was a very complicated place. It turned out to be very difficult to understand from the outside. This is my first impression. 

  Visiting the city and the countryside in a week probably saw two very different aspects of Japan. That is, personal life and traditional landscapes in rural areas, and astonishing, crazy, inhuman futuristic landscapes in cities. Those who have never been to Japan will not understand that these two extreme worlds exist in the same country at the same moment. I think this is one aspect of Japan that is completely different from other countries.

——What do you mean by saying that Tokyo is inhuman? Inhumanity may not be appropriate, but it means that people are disconnected from each other.

● About Japanese high school students and their identities

——What are the pros and cons of Japanese high school students compared to the United States?

First of all, I would like you to understand that I am not a teacher in the United States. I have never taught in an American high school, so it may not be possible to make a true comparison. Even so, I think I can say a few things by being deeply involved with Japanese students through my work.

First of all, I felt that young Japanese people are in a very difficult situation because they cannot feel the connection between the past and traditions and their existence. I think their parents and grandparents feel a sense of alienation from society / tradition that they have never felt or noticed.

Now young people are trying to break their own mold by believing in their lifestyle and future. However, you are not sure that you are right, and you do not know if you can believe in your feelings. They are in a very weak time now. Still, I think I'm looking for something I can do to make my life better.

——What did you feel and what did you exchange with the students through the class? Has anything changed?

What I tried to do in class was to get students to understand the very elusive thing of identity. I tried to get people to understand it while using the pictures I took. I wanted people to understand that identity is very important when it comes to how people connect and relate to each other. I wanted them to stop thinking of their identities as inherited from their peoples and nations, as it is commonly said, but to think of them as individual beliefs and perspectives.

——So, did the students identify themselves with the people in the photographs that they had never met and had nothing in common on the surface?

Yes, I made them compare over and over again. I asked the students to make a superficial comparison first, but then freely interpret what the person in the picture was trying to express to them. This method of interpretation is the viewer's own and is based on the viewer's own senses. This means that what the person in the picture thinks is the identity and significance of the students themselves.

——Did you see any changes?

At first, the students didn't seem to know how to express themselves in this class. In Japan, such topics do not seem to be discussed in public—there is little room for expressing their opinions—I think this is really the core of understanding identity. but. I think the process of thinking and expressing one's own existence is important not only in cultural exchange, but also in understanding oneself and other people in Japan. The students, who seemed to look at the pictures from a distance, changed as they proceeded with the lessons, as they had different cultures and ethnicities from Americans and did not understand why they were related to them. After finding all the intersections, they found a whole new relevance. It was the relevance that the students themselves began to create by their own interpretation. ——Does the students come to think that identity is not something they are given, but something they can actually create?

Identity is not given. What is identity? I think it's a source of meaning and experience. It's like a filter, through which we understand and shape our thoughts and our lives. What forms the identity of a person and how can it be done?

In Japan, it can be said that identity or values are considered to be those of the Japanese and Japanese culture. "I'm Japanese. That's my identity." But I think it's not completely correct, it's an unstable opinion. For example, when I asked a student if it was correct, he replied. So is he and his grandfather exactly the same in feelings and beliefs? I asked. He replied, "Well, that's not the case."

So what's the difference? He and his grandfather have the same ethnicity, culture, and homeland, as well as their genes and family. I think most of the identities are based on ethnicity and culture, as well as personal driving forces such as past experience and future sensibilities. After all, I believe that identity is shaped by a number of influences. Of course, some of them are cultural and some are not. Even in Japan, they are personally different due to a number of influences.

● Life is a cycle of identity formation and re-formation Identity is constantly changing

——Did you realize that you have an American or Western identity and that it is different from that of Japan?

That's an important question. First of all, let me say no to your question. I am not trying to get the Japanese to capture their personality based on American or Western ideas.

Identity is what is formed. But that's not what is generally considered. Given that identity is a generally accepted concept, I think Japan and the United States are very different. In America, a multicultural and multiethnic country, identity is often considered to be a means of expression for an individual and a measure of uniqueness and character. However, in Japan, which is a relatively monoethnic country, identities seem to be understood as being shared as a group. However, even if these generalizations are widely accepted to shape the culture of this country, they do not accurately and perfectly portray the diversity of identities in their respective societies.

I'm not trying to say that the process of identity formation is better than that that lives in the nation. I want to say that they are both imperfect. The answer is that when it comes to identity issues, both collective and personal must be considered. In the tension between these diversities, I think we can measure the appearance of each society only between "outside and inside".

——What did you most want to express when you took a picture of a Japanese person?

Through my work, I want to develop a perspective of the relationship between the subject and myself, or even between the subject and the audience. Whether the subject is Japanese or American, I work in the same attitude and always want to be free and open to what happens through photography.

So my photography is an attempt to record some special communication, perspective, or dialogue that occurs between the subject and me. It contains the voices of both of us. From the works I finished in Japan with the students in Nagano, I think you can strongly feel the strength and presence of the young people. The meaning of its presence should be felt more strongly by the Japanese audience. This is because it is an expression of an individual that is not usually seen in Japanese society. It is emitted from the inside to the outside.

——What is the most important thing that establishes your own identity?

First know that who you are is not where you were born or where you are going. The question "what is important" for this big theme is a very small concept, isn't it? Who you are depends on your past (homeland, ethnicity, culture, family, experience, etc.) and your awareness of the future. With that in mind, identity is truly dynamic. It's always changing. Wouldn't it be great to always ask about an ever-changing identity? If you understand that your vision is constantly changing, you will be able to consciously shape your life.

I think life is a cycle of identity formation and reshaping. Also, one cannot really leave one's past in the past (in the sense that the innate one remains). However, I think it just makes me more like myself.

I don't think Japan should hesitate to come into contact with the question of identity. In fact, dialogue in society, not only in the past but also in the future, may be the key to a deeper understanding of Japan.

Identity Transcription

Q. What is your first impression of Japan?

A. Is it your first impression of Japan?

Q. It's okay to say it in one word, and I can understand enough from the list of impressions. I'm sorry for the rather vague question.

A. I've been to Japan many times, so it's difficult to remember my first impression.

Q. So when did you first go to Japan? How many years will it be?

A.  I first went to Japan right after graduating from university in 1993. Well, the first impression is that you came to a world completely different from the one I'm used to living in. Of course, there were many other impressions. Because when I first came to Japan, I first stayed in Tokyo for a few days and then went to rural areas. It was a small town in Nagano prefecture. Therefore, my impression is divided into several layers. Well, it might be better to say that Japan has noticed that it has many faces. The first impression was that Japan was a very complicated place.

  It turns out that people outside of Japan do not have much understanding of Japan. It turned out to be very difficult to understand from the outside. This is my first impression.   

  Seeing the city and the countryside in a week means seeing a very Japanese part and a future part. In rural areas you can see the very Japanese part: tradition and the lives of each and every one, while seeing the astonishing, crazy, inhuman future city. It sounds like two simple views, but it's not. People not only see the future of Japan, but also remember Japanese traditions. However, I don't think people outside Japan can understand these two worlds that Japan has. It is understandable that people outside Japan value tradition and the future world. But I don't understand that the two are linked. That is a very different part from Japan.

Q. What do you mean by saying that Tokyo is inhuman? 

A. Inhumanity may not be appropriate, but it means that people are disconnected from each other.

Q. The next question. What are the pros and cons of Japanese high school students compared to the United States?

A.  First of all, I would like you to understand that I am not a teacher in the United States. I have never taught in an American high school. So I can't really answer those questions. Are you interested in what American high school looks like?  Let's apply it to my work. Japanese young people are trying to find their own identity. However, we are suffering between what is accepted and what is not accepted by Japanese society. I think Japanese young people are a very interesting target. Young people are somewhat disconnected from the times when their parents and grandparents lived, and they cannot feel or experience those times. Their parents have never noticed the little things that are happening in Japan, but young people are trying to break their own mold. However, I'm not sure what I'm doing is right, and I don't know if I can believe in my feelings. They are in a very weak time now. Still, I am looking for what the younger generation of Japan can do to improve my life.

Q. This is the third question. What did you feel and what did you exchange with your students during the lesson? Has anything changed?

A. What I tried to do in class was to get students to understand the very elusive and inaccessible thing of identity. I tried to get people to understand it while using the pictures I took. And while identity is invisible, I wanted people to understand that it's very important when it comes to how people connect and relate to each other. I wanted people to understand a lot, but first I tried to create an interaction between the people in my portrait and the students themselves. There are several steps to creating such an interaction. First, I asked them to think in a general concept. Simply think that they are Japanese and the people in the picture are American.   I wanted the students to understand that they never understand, never speak, and it is impossible to communicate personally with the people in the picture. I thought it was important to get a deeper impression from that. I wanted them to have a second and third impression, not a first impression, and change their mindset.

Q. So, could the students identify themselves with the people in the photographs who had never met and had no superficial commonality?

A. Of course, the way I let them do it was to compare myself to foreigners. But I first designed them to make comparisons at a very general level. After that, the students themselves interpreted what they felt when they saw the pictures. Of course, that interpretation is something that you do yourself, but in the end it made you think about your own identity in your own interpretation.

Q. Did you see any clear changes? At the beginning, the students were just talking about what identity was, but gradually ...

A. The following has happened. At first, they didn't even know what the word identity was. More than that, I thought there was nothing I couldn't understand. In Japan, there is no public discussion and people cannot establish their own ideas. That's how identity is born. So they don't know what their identity is.

Students do not know how important it is to "think", that is, to think, make decisions, and understand the changes for themselves. Changes in thinking when choosing an action are important not only in cultural exchange relationships, but also in understanding oneself and other people in Japan. From the beginning they didn't have a place to stand up and give their opinions.

As I said before, I don't even talk about such ideas in general. So the first thing I had to do was explain the importance of identity.  And what happened at the end?   First, the students were just looking at these pictures from a distance, thinking that "Americans have different races and different jobs." I had no idea how to connect myself with the people in the picture. So, while first introducing the different parts of the people in the picture, I taught them that in other directions this kind of connection is possible. This triggered the students to begin their own interpretation.

The change that has happened is that students have stopped thinking that identity is inherited from history and parents. I no longer think that identity is like knowledge or an idea given by someone else. Then the students began to realize that they had a personality that controlled many issues such as their own identity and perspective.

It has also become clear that identity is also attributed to ethnic groups and countries. The students thought they were the same as the people around them, but they began to recognize their experiences and future outlook, and realized that their classmates were very interesting.

Q. The fourth question is, "What is very important when thinking about identity?", But you may have already said that. A. Is that so? What did I say is important? 

Q. You said that identity is not something you are given, it is something you can create.

A. Identity is not given. That is impossible. What is identity? I think it is a source of meaning and experience. It's like a filter, through which we understand and shape our thoughts and our lives. It's a very vague explanation, but it's unique to each person.

What forms the identity of a person? In Japan, identity, understanding, perspective or a person's "filter" is considered to come from culture. It is considered that "identity = Japanese culture". "I'm Japanese. That's my identity." No, it's not right.

It is true that some people have cultural influences such as Japanese way of thinking and tradition. But what if a Japanese student has the same identity as an 80-year-old Japanese? Perhaps the student's grandfather is that person. But when I ask the students this question, they say, "That's not the case." So what's the difference? I have a lot in common with my grandfather. They speak the same language, wear the same clothes, live in the same country, and are of the same ethnicity. In other words, they are different people, even though they are in the same culture.

The difference is that the student has his own experience, memory and vision of the future. 80 and 15 years old think. Think about what you see, think about yourself, and choose the path to reach your goals. What's the difference? Yes, the idea is the student's own. It was not inherited from his father. Identity is a filter for understanding one's life, and it is established under a great deal of influence.

As I mentioned before, there are collective influences such as culture, but there are also influences that are not. Each human being is very different and is a psychological creature. It's a mixed effect. There are collective influences and individual influences.

Even in Japan, there are individual influences.  


Q. What did you pay most attention to when teaching your students about identity?

A. I had many purposes to go as a teacher, but I especially wanted to value the intersection of American and Japanese culture. First, we had conversations that helped our students understand America. Japanese students could have a little understanding of American society while I was teaching.

I noticed that the students were trying hard to learn English and trying to make a lot of contacts. Students now have many contacts. However, when the Japanese in general look at foreign countries, they divide the problem into two, inside and outside, and think that "we are Japanese, and everyone else is of another race."

They see America that way, and they always take that view when they look outside Japan. So you can't really understand what's really going on outside. I can't understand.

So I wanted the students to see a different part of America.  In America, identity is made up of many layers. Some are pure Americans, some are African Americans, some are Baptists, some are Southerners. It may be a person with four brothers and four sisters, or it may be an orphan.

Just because you're in the United States doesn't mean you can be categorized as an "American." There are many layers of identity. I wanted my students to think about it. Otherwise, there will be no contact between students and the United States.

And I wanted them to think the same thing in Japan. In other words, they are all Japanese, but they are from rural areas or urban areas. They also have different families and have their own ideas about the future.

In that direction, I wanted the students to think about cultural fellowship through conversation. I wanted you to think about every detail, from a small community to a large society. I wanted them to "connect". I wanted them to use the pictures to find out the personal connection between the person in the picture and themselves, and I wanted the students to help each other for that purpose.


Q. Did you find yourself having an American or Western identity? Or is such a way of thinking peculiar to Japan?

A. I was careful to avoid the expressions of one human being or one ethnic group. We were all the same in being human. I just speak a different language. Identity is not determined by humankind or ethnicity, and no one is the same.

Also, the questions about identity vary from person to person, and the answers to them also differ. For example, in the United States, it's not so difficult to think of identity.

There are many different things in American society. Various people live in it. When I ask what is unique to me, the answer is clear and it is natural to think so.

However, in Japan, such questions arise in society as a whole. It happens in the individual in America. This question is not held by individuals, but by society as a whole. That's fine.

What I mean is not that that idea is wrong. But that idea cannot answer all the questions about identity. As long as we think that way, we cannot fully answer the question of how to connect each other.

This is very important, especially in countries other than Japan, and the fact that they are different is a factor that connects them to each other. Questions about identity are different in Japan and the United States. It is generally said that all Japanese are the same and each American is different, but this does not solve the problem. If you try to see America in my work, you'll see that each and every one of those portraits is that there are many different Americans who are trying to connect each other in society as a whole. People are crossing in such a situation.

In Japan, the opposite problem holds. Everyone is the same but different. In Japan, the "relationship between the outside and the inside" justifies all the relationships.


Q. What do you try to express the most when you take pictures of Japanese people?

A. Portraits are, in a sense, personal, and the portraits I take do not depend on what kind of connection I like. I also take American portraits as I do Japanese portraits. But there are also portraits that start to have different meanings.

For example, Japanese high school students did not have the "strength" to connect with each other. Everyone thought they didn't have an identity. But in my portrait, I try to express a connection that can only be created from the individual identity of the student.

If my portrait proves that young people have such strengths and identities, or helps them to come to the surface, my job is successful. All Japanese portraits were taken for that purpose. It is a series of connections for each and every student, and the strong things inside each student appear outside and become a series.

And my hope is to disappoint those who see these pictures. Anyone who sees this will find that the expression of identity is different.

If you ask a question before looking at the pictures, they will answer, "All Japanese are the same." I want to express something elusive that people inside and outside Japan cannot feel. 

Q. Did you discover anything important during your stay in Japan?

  A. Well, when considering culture and society, Japan is a very attractive place for me. There is a lot to learn from people and culture.  I tried to open my heart and learned about various things in Japan. Japan has a beauty not found in the United States. I think the best culture I think is a well-balanced combination of 50% in the United States and 50% in Japan. Both good and bad. I went to many places in Japan and thought about myself.


Q. What do you like and dislike about Japan? This is a vague question.

A. I think Japan has sensibility in thoughts, relationships and personal interactions. There is tradition, there is history, and I think it is of great quality. But the most important thing for me is sensitivity.


Q. Is there anything that I just can't accept?

A. Well, it can be said that it is a big problem in Japan, but it is not to open what you have.


Q.  It may be related, but are there any elements that Japanese people who are trying to go abroad to grab something are lacking?

Not for tourism, but for Japanese people who are trying to do something there. Looking at all of those Japanese people, do you think there are some Japanese-specific factors that hinder your activities?

A.  As I said before, understanding people, communicating between Japanese individuals, opening their hearts, understanding individuals, all of which cannot be done in different ways. It is done in a kind of ritual. To do this requires personal interpretation and opinion to establish an identity.

Therefore, it is not common to make such an interpretation, and as long as the necessity of this interpretation is true, it will be difficult for Japanese people to have personal ties even if they go abroad. I think that the problems that Japanese people have when they go to other societies have already occurred in Japan. This means that it is difficult to establish a personal connection.

Also, people often come up to me and say, "You came from a foreign country." Perhaps these people have the feeling that they are completely Japanese or completely Japanese. It means 100% Japanese or 100% non-Japanese. They are either open or closed. I don't do anything else.

Through my work, I want Japanese people inside and outside Japan to know that you are Japanese forever and at the same time more than that. They can continue to create their identities by choosing their lives and pursuing them actively. By doing so, they will be enriched and their sense of Japanese will ultimately help. I guess so? It's not a matter of how open or closed your mind is. What is important to them is not lost. What is really important to the individual is not lost.


Q.  Is Japan unacceptable to foreigners because of the idea of being an ethnic group?

A. There are many things that Japan can offer to the world. And I think Japan needs to speak more to the world. I think we can contribute to the world not only by getting people to understand Japan, but also by providing a Japanese perspective.

Japan has a lot to offer to the world, and in order to do that, it is necessary to be Japanese, but at the same time, it is necessary to understand the meaning that Japanese people are Japanese. It doesn't mean Japanese vs. other people. That is the strength and weakness of Japan. There are many important things from a Japanese perspective that should be disseminated and provided around the world. It is not limited to biased ideas such as race.


Q. There are many Japanese who have reached something overseas and are respected abroad. I have seen many Japanese talking and writing in the media. He (the person who thought about the content of the interview) lives in Japan, so he may have had the same question as before, but Americans admit when the Japanese reach something, but later, "So much. It's not a big deal. " I do not know well. 

The conductor Seiji Ozawa is Japanese. It was not accepted while in Japan, but it was accepted in Germany. It is now very famous. From the Japanese point of view, did they have no respect or self-esteem?

  A. Encouraging individuals is in great demand, even when considering society as a whole. And this is also something that is not often talked about in Japan.


Q. As an American, what are the good and bad points of Japanese people? Is there anything that Americans should change when compared to the United States? A. Yes, there is. There are many wonderful things in America. Is it most important to have a range of choices?

Each person stands up for freedom and choice. We also act in society according to what makes them like them. However, Japan has reached different goals of poverty and ethnic issues. The United States is not failing, but there is still work to be done to protect the rights of these people.

It may be said that Americans are generally selfish and think only about themselves. However, Americans have a sophisticated eye for personal interaction. They also don't have to try to understand the concept of multicultural relationships. It's very complicated, but as I said, the Japanese are not good at what Americans are good at, and the Americans are not good at what Japanese are good at.

Therefore, it is very important that these two societies are connected. Once the bridge is completed, people will cross. Only in that way can humans understand each other. And again, as an artist, my goal is to meet people face to face. There are already many links in the research institute and business fields, but not many are crossing this bridge. Despite the many bridges, there are still many confusions and misunderstandings.


Q. What is the most important thing for mutual understanding between people and culture? 

A. People are open, listen and feel. I want to make such a connection through portraits.

Q. Did you have the best communication during your stay in Japan? 

A. Yes. Proven in the photo.


Q. Did you have any problems? Have you ever tried to communicate and moved in the wrong direction? 

A. That kind of thing is common. It also happens between me and my father. So, of course, that kind of thing is more likely to happen with people you've just met. But the important thing is not to close your heart, but to try to understand each other. Let me give you an example. In Japan, we often talk to strangers at stores and train stations.

I'm not very good at Japanese, but I can speak it, and I don't know much Japanese, but I can speak Japanese well. I think the accent is pretty good, and you can understand what I said. But that's not always the case. If you try to reach out to someone you don't know, even if you speak in perfect Japanese, they won't understand you.

That's because the Japanese think I can't speak Japanese. If you say the same thing again, you will understand.


Q. Do you have any advice for Japanese people who will land in New York for the first time?

A. Just walking.

Q. So what if your acquaintance goes to Japan for the first time?

A. It's about walking around.  


Q. I have two more questions. What is the most necessary thing in establishing an identity?

A. First, know who you are, not where you were born or where you are going. Perhaps the most important is the small concept within the large concept.

Who you are depends on your past and future. It depends on your country, your culture, and what you want to do in the future. In such a situation, you will learn that identity is always moving and changing. Yes, it's changing.

The question of what identity is is a great question. Understanding that your dreams for the future are changing really means that you can build your own life. Life is about forming an identity and rebuilding it. You don't have to leave the past behind. Make important choices.


Q. This is the last question. When thinking about the Internet society, what should we do to develop this society for the better? Please answer especially in terms of international communication in the Internet society.

A.  It's the same as words. Even if you can use the Internet, you cannot really understand the other person. This is a means, not a result. The Internet can help connect people, but like words, it can hurt others.

In Japan, learning English is very important, but studying English does not always help you to connect with people, and on the contrary, you want to avoid contact with foreigners. It may remind you. The Internet may or may not be useful at all. I think that personal philosophy and hope will be important there. Isn't that the most important thing in understanding? So the Internet can help but not solve it. Q.  Thank you very much.

● ABOUT NYcity

Greg: When I first came to New York, I experienced a feeling of openness that I had never felt in my country, and I really liked New York. Maybe it was because, unlike Britain, I didn't feel like I had to act as part of society or adapt to it.

On the contrary, I felt like I was expected to do something out of the ordinary. I don't know if that's true, but it's true that I felt strongly, and I still have that gap when I return to England.


Tetsu: When I first came to America, I thought that this part of America was good and this part of Japan was bad. But after a long time, it has changed. Actually, the first thing I experience or see in the United States is something like "I've seen this on TV a long time ago", and compared to going to a distant Asian country, there is no big culture shock. I came to think.


Richard: I have a lot of Japanese friends, but I always hear people say they don't want to go back to Japan. "When I'm in America, I feel like I can do what I want to do."

Yukiko: I think so too. I think that's especially true for women.


Richard: You can see that when you go to Japan as a foreigner. I thought the way women were treated was completely different.


Nazi: As I walked in New York, a man came and asked, "Which Japanese restaurant do you work for?" Always! Do they think that all Japanese women in New York work at Japanese restaurants?  


Silvia: People in New York have such bad habits. I may be the same. But it's only in New York. New York itself is really unique. It's a city that can't be compared to any other. If you go to another place in America, it feels like there is another America. New York is New York and America is America.




Nazi: I've experienced a lot of things since I started going to school in the United States. Here, if you can't speak in class, you'll fail if you don't have your own opinion. In Japan, I wasn't allowed to give an opinion to a professor. Now it may be too much to say what I thought.


Yukiko: At a Japanese university, when I wrote my opinion on the exam, my grade was C ... The teacher is like a god in Japan. Just ask the teacher, "She is unusual, she is weird." It's natural that everyone's opinions are different.


Silvia: Of course, there are good teachers and bad teachers in every country. Isn't it unrelated to the Japanese system?


Tetsu: Japanese teachers generally value smart students and study for exams, and we are too conscious of college entrance exams.


Taka: The good thing about coming to New York is that I learned to think. In Japan, I never used my head, I just memorized it. We need to think about it here, and I think we've got a lot of it.

Hagueman: I was born and raised in New York and attended an independent school. When I do something wrong, the teacher snaps my finger! Or put out the desk in the corridor. The nuns were quite violent. Not all New York is the same.




Tetsu: I think he said, "If you can't speak English, you shouldn't be here!" And most Americans don't even try to learn the language of another country.


Sylvia: All Americans say, "I've learned Spanish and French for five years, but I can't speak."


Yukiko: If I say I'm studying in New York, I think I'm studying English.


Michael: I've been to many places, including living in Quebec. New York is multicultural, but I think there is a lot of racism. I grew up in an old Caucasian area and was the only Asian in school, so I've had a lot of discrimination since I was a kid.


Greg: I grew up in Hong Kong and now live in Chinatown, but I think I'm racist on a daily basis. I'm used to a few things. If you live in another country, many things just happen. So I'm a little comfortable. Apparently, I'm Korean, not American. I don't usually want to talk about this because racism continues when I talk about it.


Michael: I think New York is a lot better than anywhere else in the United States. Going south, it's even more amazing.


Taka: In the past, I have never felt discriminated against.




Taka: I can't say whether I like New York or Japan. I love the city of New York, and I love Japan as well.


Nazi: When I was in Japan, I never thought I was inconvenienced. But after coming to New York, I realized I wasn't very free.


Silvia: I came to America when I was 16 so I think my spirit grew up in America. I think it's a very American way of thinking and I love this country. I think I've found a lot of good things about America as I grew up, but what I like the most is that this country has given me a chance that wouldn't have been possible in Europe. world. I think NY is a place for those who want to get a chance.

Identity in NY


Interview with George Fields

New York business style, Tokyo business style

If the business style of New York is "Kaientai",

Japanese companies look like "Shinsengumi".



● New York is a competitive society


——What are your thoughts on the differences between the business societies of Tokyo and New York?

GF: Even Americans say "other than New York," not New York equals America. I think the big point is that New York is a very special place. New York is a competitive society where many people are crowded together to get individual recognition first. On the other hand, Tokyo is a symbiotic society that does not give out an individual's ego, a society that lives together. Such differences still appear in each business style.

Businessmen in New York are, in a sense, impatient, or very quick to make decisions. People who are not accustomed to the style may be confused because I feel sorry if I do not decide more and more.

Many New Yorkers think that New York is the center of the world. So I want to do everything in New York style, New York style. Since Tokyo is a symbiotic society, there are many aspects of mutual compromise. Even when doing business with foreigners, I don't really stick to the style of Tokyo. In a sense, Tokyo is more international than New York.


—— That's a surprising view for Japanese people.

GF: In the case of New York, New York style is well established, so even Americans often say that New York is not friendly. Therefore, the city of New York is divided into those who like it very much and those who don't. I love New York.

"Rudeness" is New York style. It's actually friendly, but the first to take a provocative attitude is the New Yorker, the New York style. The first impression is completely different between New York and Tokyo.

Of course, in the depths, I think New Yorkers are more friendly.

On the surface, Japanese people are very friendly, and even if they are polite, in reality, they only work with close friends.

New York is unfriendly at first, but if you allow it to be on an equal footing, you will recognize the other person and become close to them immediately. It is the same for everyone, whether they are Orientals or not. I think that kind of place is unique to New York.


● Four points required of companies now


——What is the difference between Tokyo and New York when viewed as a city?

GF: First of all, New York and Tokyo are very similar in that they have a lot of immigrants. Tokyo is full of people who have flowed in from rural areas after the war. New York is just like that.

The difference is that Tokyo feels like the knees of the shogunate, and everything is concentrated, while New York is not. New York is the center of finance, advertising and media, with cities specialized such as Washington for politics, Detroit for manufacturing, Silicon Valley for computers, and North Carolina for laboratories. Tokyo, which is extremely concentrated, is an era of the Internet, but I think it is a very inefficient society.


——What do Japanese companies need to do to succeed in their future business?

GF: I don't think that all developed economies have the same conditions, such as New York or Tokyo. Therefore, there are four conditions for business success that are common to both New York and Tokyo.

First is immediacy. In today's network era, we can't do the slow work that we used to do.

Next is liquidity. Don't stick to fixed transactions. You can make the best deals from anywhere, not just one place, and you have to be proactive in doing that. This is a network principle.

The third is heterogeneity. You will be left behind if you are only dealing with homogeneous organizations and people. Socializing with various organizations and people. It is said that Japanese people are not good at this, but all advanced companies in Japan are doing it. In the past, I used to work in my own line, but that business style is now collapsing.

The fourth is roundaboutness. In other words, the more options you have, the better. From the consumer's point of view, clothes were bought at department stores and detergents were bought at supermarkets in the past. But now, there are convenience stores, e-commerce, and direct sales. The same is true for companies, and it is better to have a wide range of options, regardless of trading partners, human resources, or strength.


——It seems that Japanese people are not very good at it.

GF: Historically, I don't think that should be the case. It wasn't the case in the first place, it just happened. Recall the two organizations of the Shinsengumi and Kaientai at the end of the Edo period.

The condition of the organization I was drawing now is exactly Kaientai. Kaientai is a group of different specialists such as those who want to learn swordsmanship, those who want to learn languages, and those who are interested in navigation, and Ryoma Sakamoto, who bundles them, is also different. Was a human being.

On the other hand, all Shinsengumi are of the same quality. Although both organizations existed at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, the number of Shinsengumi groups has increased in Japan today. Then you cannot succeed from now on. We have to change the character of the company steadily according to the times and circumstances, and even if we go abroad, we need to get into the field.


● New York identity and Tokyo identity


——Is the difference in the way you perceive identities between Japan and New York also appear in your business?


GF: The word "identity" is very interesting and is written in katakana. The reason is that it is a word that Japanese does not have. When I look up the English-Japanese dictionary, the word "uniformity" is mentioned, but the opposite is true. I think the difference between New York and Tokyo is exactly there.

For example, look at a business card. In Japan, the name of the company comes first, the job title comes first, and the name comes last. In New York, the name comes first. Next comes what kind of work you are doing, and finally the company name.

For New York businessmen, what they do determines their identity. On the other hand, the identity of Japanese businessmen is determined by which company they belong to.

Also, in the United States, companies usually change jobs, so the first company to enter is not the most important. If the first company doesn't work, I just think about changing jobs. The last company is the most important company. In Japan, the first company determines your life and the identity of that person.


——It is often said that you need physical strength and energy to work in New York.

GF: As I often say, when I hate New York, I'm old and retired. It is a city where individuality and individuality collide. But that's the interesting part.

I like New York. When I was young, I was excited just to be in New York. It still exists. I first went to New York in 1965, late in age. When I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge from that airport and started seeing the Skyscraper, I felt like I was in New York.

Nobuhiro Shibayama

New York isn't just Manhattan.

I decided to walk in the suburbs of New York City.

Unfortunately, it was a light rain on the morning when I decided to do so. You can reach the coasts of Brighton Beach and Connie Island in about an hour from the subway station at 23 where I live. I thought I'd go there.

As you cross Manhattan and Brooklyn, the landscape suddenly changes. At this time, I first felt that it was "Gotham City", including around New York.

The subway runs on the surface of the earth and goes on an elevated line over a low building. Following the walls on the left and right are graffiti with illustrations of signs that prove their identity. The atmosphere seemed dangerous, but I headed to my destination in the light rain, wondering if there was something new to look beyond this seemingly dinjarous feeling.

I heard that Brighton Beach is a place like the "Enoshima coast" for New Yorkers. Maybe that's why I thought Coney Island was an amusement park near the coast, like "Minato Mirai Yokohama". I thought it was a place where people could move, even if some inconvenience of transportation was subtracted.

But both were different.

The Ferris wheel stopped and all the stores were closed. There was only one shooting shop. It was open and three black people weren't motivated and just shot. Someone came out of the store that looked like Jack Nicholson was soaked in alcohol. From my pocket, I took out a messed up shooting ticket and said, "You, do it." I declined. However, he is angry again, "Do it, why don't you do it?"

Then I walked to the beach. There were few people on the beach, and the Ferris wheel looked lonely. I walked from Connie Island towards Brighton Beach. There is the same famous place called Brighton Beach in England, so I thought there might be a few more people.

As you walk slowly along the sandy beach, the Atlantic Ocean spreads out under the cold sky in front of you.

I saw a tanker-like ship shadow in the distance.

Nobuhiro Shibayama

Left page of the manhole collection In Japan, it has long been taught that you should not ride a bicycle on the road. In places where traffic is heavy, such as National Highway No. 1, police officers are always warned to run on the sidewalk. So, of course, I thought it would be right to run slowly on the sidewalk wherever the bike line wasn't drawn.

I thought that a bicycle was the best way to get to know that little island. So in New York, I bought a bike right away. And, of course, I was running on the sidewalk. As you know, there are many cars in New York, especially driving taxis and so on. I see accidents almost every day.

Because of that, it was natural to go on the sidewalk here as well, and I thought it was illegal to drive on the road, so I ran for a while.  

However, one day, even though I was running slowly, I was surprised when a pedestrian warned me to drive on the road. I later confirmed with a friend that in New York, bicycles should not run on the sidewalk, but on the road. Speaking of riding on wheels, even the rollerblades are on the road.

In other words, it seems like this. "You are free to ride a bike or ride a rollerblade or skateboard, but ride at your own risk." In New York, which represents the United States of Freedom, freedom is given, but on the other hand, there is no place like Japan that protects it in detail. And these manholes are always staring at rollerblades, skateboard rollers, bicycle and taxi tires, etc. that slide down the streets of New York like a grid.

Nobuhiro Shibayama

I think it was before I was in elementary school. Whether it was the time when the broadcast time of NHK TV ended or the time of news, the earth was slowly rotating on the screen. And from there, terrain like "Dragon's Otoshigo" slowly appeared.

When my parents told me that it was Japan, I was happy for some reason. I don't remember why, but I thought Japan was good. Probably because the shape similar to "Dragon's Otoshigo" was firmly impressive, had a strong presence, and seemed to contain something spiritual. However, in the case of other countries, it may be because I didn't understand the shape well when I was young. 

Therefore, I didn't know the number of countries in the world. However, when I get older and review the terrain and the existence of countries on the earth again, how many countries there are! Moreover, many countries are formed simply by drawing boundaries on the ground, and it is hard to say at a glance, "This is the shape of your country."

Japan has that "shape". In other words, the land as a form clearly exists on the sea, and it is easy to recognize Japan on the map. It has the uniqueness and independence of design work.

From now on, whether you like it or not, the barriers between nations will become lower and lower, as represented by the Internet, and even our work, design work, will have to work with other countries. I was beginning to feel such needs, so I chose New York last fall and set out on a journey. And I stayed there for more than half a year.

Today, a small island called New York is home to people from 194 countries. As is often said, it is a microcosm of the earth. I wanted to know where they lived through my body. It was as if it was an experience of embodying the image of the earth that I saw when I was young at once at my feet.

I flew like a dove, ran like a dog, sniffed and explored this small earth, New York. And the results were put together in one form. What I saw there was the existence of identities, up to the intenseness of many ethnic groups and individual people, in contrast to the non-uniqueness of the terrain of the nations.

Nobuhiro Shibayama

New York's handicraft Tokyo, the morning and evening of the Yamanote line is very crowded. The New York subway is also a rush in the morning and evening.

Here's what I saw when I first started living in New York. At a subway station, a fat aunt from the platform shouts in front of a door that is about to close, "I have to get on this to make it in time" and "Please put it in somehow." In response, a beautiful blonde woman who was already in the car exclaimed. "Fuck You! Space?" I wonder where there is a place for you to enter. "But if you don't get on this, you won't be in time," said the aunt. In the end, the word "Bitch!" Was exchanged, and the beautiful blonde woman got off the train and attacked with a handbag. A beautiful woman who pushed a huge aunt with both arms far away, jumped into the train again.

And, like a scene of the fate of the movie "Sliding Doors", the door closed cleanly in front of my aunt. A hand-crafted blonde beauty who won the game in an instant said, "Hmm, this is my space." Her triumphant snort felt hot on my eyelids standing in front of me.

柴山(2000  1/24)



i  identitiy Ⅱ

ii presentation

iii  communication

iv   カラーサンプル


i  identitiy Ⅱ

東洋ではなく、アメリカのアイデンティティーとはなにか? を探る








どんな人でも、高級なデパートに行くときは、入り口でバッグを預ける。盗難予防のために。そこにアイデンティティーがあるのではないか? そういう意味での日本との意識の違い。









ii   presetation
















iii communication








iv カラーサンプル











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