Retelling Yokohama

 

2019  /  Video Installation (HD video, photo)

 

Filmed by Miku Sato and Ryo Mikami

Edited by Miku Sato

Performed by Martha Takeda, Masayoshi “Louis” Kabe, Jon Ludwig and Calvin Burchfiel (voice)

Special Thanks to Yoshitaka “Dan” Takeda and  Hwajin Lee

Filming Location: Isezakichō, The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery, The Negishi Foreign Cemetery, Live Cafe Stormy Monday and Naval Housing Annex Negishi

 

 

Yokohama is a big international port city next to Tokyo, where it is well-known for its exotic atmosphere, and it’s the artist’s hometown. The Allied occupation of Japan at the end of World War II was led by General Douglas MacArthur. He established GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Powers) in Yokohama. During the period, there were Japanese prostitutes for Americans in Yokohama. They gave birth to mixed babies called GI baby. Most of the babies were abandoned because their poor mothers could not take care of them after withdrawal of American troops, they were discriminated (at that time, it was hard to see foreigners in Japan), and abortion was illegal in Japan. Over 900 babies were buried secretly. Yokohama city government still suppresses them and this story.

 

This video features a man of the GI baby and his family. He was discriminated against when he was a child, but he became a famous bassist and guitarist of a band: The Golden Cups, and a kind of pioneer of western music in Japan. He was popular among many fans because he was good looking and looked the part performing western music. In 1960s and 70s, it was trendy for Japanese music bands to make western music. In this video, his daughter plays the roles of a prostitute, as well as his prostitute mother. In an article of the newspaper of Stars and Stripes written on March 10th, 1946, it is mentioned that the prostitutes were over the age of 30. His daughter is actually in her 30s, so the artist thought it was a good coincidence to cast her in the video and show a link between her and her father and grandmother.

 

There are some vacant lands owned by America where we Japanese cannot enter in Yokohama and Tokyo, unlike the American army base in Okinawa. This land represents the vestiges of war which include the daughter in the video and other abandoned babies. This video tries to retell Yokohama by both documentary and fiction methods.