jisei no ku


Let them bloom or
let them die - it's all the same:
cherry trees on mount Yoshino.

Bound homeward under
clear summer skies:
bird feathers, flowers.

Today I put on summer
clothes and journey
to a world I haven't seen yet.

A short night
wakes me from a dream
that seemed so long.

Clear sky,
the way I came by once
I now go back by.

I give my name back
as I step in
this Eden of flowers.

Plum petals falling
I look up... the sky,
a clear crisp moon.


In the form of dew

may it spread over the grass

this body of mine.

(Michinoya Togen)

These verses belong to the Japanese tradition of the “jisei no ku”, brief poems expressing one last thought, a farewell to the world by samurai, monks and poets who, sensing the approach of death, wished to write some words in order to leave one last trace before leaving.
Some of these poems evoke melancholic atmospheres, others convey peace, a recovered harmony, almost relief; some see death as a serene journey home, some as a travel to a new world.

The self-portraits of this project are a reinterpretation of the atmospheres and sensations that can be perceived by reading these poems. They take inspiration by the verses to build a fantastic world, beyond time and reality, a world in which death is a moment of suspension, a step towards the unknown.

The verses of jisei no ku poetry often suggest a view of the death as a return of our body to the nature to which it belongs; for this reason all the photographs were shot in natural landscapes, later transformed through a free use of color, in order to create a dimension sited on the boundary between reality and imagination.

A particularly fascinating aspect of the poems which inspired this project is the gracefulness through which the authors have been able to talk about death: they did it through a composed intensity, avoid of tragic or emotive surges; the pictures of the project try to respect this trait, and to evoke the same mysterious, delicate atmosphere that springs from the verses.