Dear Friends,

I am wanted to give as much insight into my new work as possible, so I thought it might be helpful to write down some passing thoughts and feelings that directly relate to both the work, and the inspiration that moves my creative process to its finial visual destination. My intention is to give a deeper understanding into my philosophical and spiritual roots that have allowed me to form my distinctive style. I hope this might add to the understanding of this body of work.


Notes of reflection in references to the series KAWA:

“KAWA=Flow” reminds me of “this world and that world,” ”previous life and current life,”  “this world and afterlife,”” human world and the world of the gods,” and life itself.

I hope KAWA=Flow series will awaken a sense of relaxation and purification in the viewers’ mind.  I would be happy if my work somehow gives support and encouragement to the viewers as they move through their life.  We should not hurry, but not stop. An ideal life for us is one of harmony and contentment.

I enjoy watching transitions in nature.

Clouds in the sky are all different from each other.  While watching the clouds, I realize I am seeing beyond the clouds. I may be focusing on the clouds, but my mind is immersed in something else.

There is a Haiku poem Ryokan (1758-1831), a Zen monk, wrote.  It goes like this:

A Japanese maple leaf
It turns to show its back
It turns to show its front
Before it is time to fall

This Haiku has made a great impact on me.  I believe Ryokan wrote about life through using the metaphor of falling leaves.

Life is an accumulation of moments.   There are moments when leaves show the sunny front, and there are moments when they show the dark backside.  But at the end, all leaves fall and decayed.

Ryokan’s attention to the sound of the nature, and realization of how humans are but a part of nature, made it possible for him to write this poem.  I imagine how Ryokan led his life enriching, soothing, and purifying people’s mind.


“Active passiveness,” a teaching of Zen, influenced me, too.  It is necessary to acquire the sense of active passiveness to reach a steady mind and body.  When you achieve a calm feeling by finding yourself integrated into nature, you will develop a respect and humbleness towards the whole universe.  You will be enveloped in a deep sensibility of the universe, and the earth you are placed on.

This thinking is widely known in Budo (martial arts.)  I try to sharpen my sensibility to reach this state of mind when I photograph.

Additional reflections:

Drips of water seeped out of the mountain  form a flow known as a KAWA. 
A KAWA can also be seen as a pond on the top of a mountain, overflowing, creating small streams that grow into great rivers.  KAWA changes its face, sometimes seen as a rapid stream, and other times a quiet flow of almost still water.  All rivers eventually flow into an ocean, and then into vast expanse of chaotic sea, reemerging as the majestic cloud.

Buddha taught that a person starts living towards death on the day one is born, and there is nothing more obvious than that.

Ryokan’s last Haiku poem:

Cherry Blossoms petals falling
Even the ones remained
Will soon be falling  




Yamamoto Masao