Photos: Gianni Toyota
In May of 2012, executive producer Stella Holmes and producer Linda Corley traveled with their production team to Japan for the second leg of field production. They were filming principal photography of the upcoming one-hour documentary film West Encounters East, a remarkable journey that uncovers the artistic talents of Brazilian artists of Japanese descent.
The team traveled over ten 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 oldest contemporary art gallery in Tokyo.
Traveling north on Japan’s famed bullet train to a mountain 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 Stella and her team to visit some of his monumental sculptures that grace the landscape of Japan, including his impressive pieces seen at the Tendo City Museum.
Contemporary art was the focus for much of the trip, but the team took a break from all that is “new” and traveled to one of Japan’s oldest cities, Kyoto, the former capital for one thousand years. While in the ancient city, they toured the Kiyomizu Temple. One the day the team encountered the unveiling of a Buddha statue, commemorating the 20,000 souls lost during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This was among the most impressive artworks encountered by the documentary team. It was created out of an oak tree, washed ashore during the tsunami, and later lovingly carved by art students, who covered it in a golden splendor. It honored those who had died, but most importantly, it demonstrated the resilience of the Japanese people.