About “Mashiko no Uta” (Song of Mashiko)

—A Message from the Producer Rika Minoda

“Mashiko no Uta” is a movement with the concept “weaving milieu* with expression” led by Rika Minoda’s Local Editorial Office, along with various creators.

I live in Mashiko, a rural town known for pottery and agriculture. I have worked on various projects to promote Mashiko, such as planning and editing a local magazine called “Michikake—The people of Mashiko and their lives”, and organizing the new art festival “Hijisai” as a secretariat in 2009 and 2012, and as a secretariat and project manager in 2015.

In my path, I have learned from the locals that the wisdom and sensibility of people grow from healthy relationships they have with the milieu of the land on which they live. Originating from neither economic activity nor egocentric arbitrariness, farm goods, handiwork and crafts that are born out of wisdom and sensibility are what truly bring abundance to people’s lives. Moreover, the repetition of such work affects the milieu, and leads to a healthy circulation of the land.

While carrying this little idea in my head and working as a planner and editor, I met Ayuko Ishizuka in 2016, whose fascination with the creation of pottery from earth to pot through the human hand, had led her to come to Mashiko time and time again.

As a singer-songwriter with a twenty-year career, Ishizuka was an avid reader of Mashiko’s magazine “Michikake”, and in 2015, experienced “Hijisai” the new festival founded on Mashiko’s milieu. In 2016, she participated in a tour around Tochigi prefecture, during which she took part in a hiking event I organized with my friends, and saw different sceneries of Mashiko. She also experienced being an apprentice to a potter.

Based on these experiences, Ishizuka wrote “Song of Mashiko” with her ability to use words to convey what it means to live and be alive, and her deep understanding of the relationship between milieu and people’s lives. She felt, as a musician, she wanted to give back what she received from Mashiko’s land and people in the form of a song. The song Ishizuka created was indeed born out of the land of Mashiko, but the song goes beyond such administrative borderlines. There is a universality in the song, like the gaze of a god watching over us from the vast sky.

Like a wind, the song pushed me to start a new project collaborating with the designer Masahito Suda (who for many years has been coming to Mashiko for his creative work in Hijisai and the shop Starnet), the photographer Tomoko Osada, and Yasushi Takamatsu who does field recording at the foot of Mount Amamaki. With Ishizuka’s song as the point of origin, we mixed music, sound, poetry, photography, and film, and weaved them into a short movie and a photography book.

Rather than being done with the project now that it has become media, I hope that “Song of Mashiko” will continue to show the world the creators shared and formed together. I hope it communicates about the invaluable milieu inherent in each and every land, as well as the handiwork and expression born out of that land—in different forms, quietly, but eternally, with universality.

To open your senses to the milieu of the land,
To catch what is important from the milieu and the wisdom of those who have come before us,
To live, make, eat, sing,
And to be alive, and consciously enjoy being alive.
To believe—that beyond here—there is a modest but abundant future out there.
Song of Mashiko will continue to grow and walk alongside you,
It is a movement by creators, about the art of living and being alive.

Rika Minoda

*About Milieu

For the translation of the Japanese word “風土 (fudo)”, we decided to use the French word milieu.

Fudo originated in China, and took root in Japan as a word meaning “environment that has been created by people shaping their surrounding nature over generations”. Ordinarily, the word “climate” is used when it is translated into English. However, “climate” is too narrow, and cannot communicate the full nuance of the concept we have of “風土 (fudo)”.

The French geographer Augustin Berque whose researches include Japanese fudo uses the French word milieu, which means “halfway point” in terms of both space and time, and “environment”. Berque defines milieu as “the relationship between a society and space as well as nature”, and uses the word as a translation of fudo in his writings, including those in English and German. Therefore, we decided to follow suit.

Product information

Mashiko-no-uta DVD&PHOTOBOOK ¥2500+tax

BOOK|48-page photo collection that captures Mashiko's scene with soft light

DVD|A 18 minutes short movie,in which Mashiko's beautiful scenery and human activities are superimposed on two songs and sounds of nature such as birds and insects.

Click here for short movie introduction