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Toru Ukai | From the drifting islands

Toru Ukai (鵜養透) | From the drifting islands

Posted on Mai 18, 2012 by Julia Schiller

From the drifting islands represents the situation of Tokyo after the earthquake in Japan.
Since that day, surprising disperse from the authorities and the center is silently going on in the depths of this big city. We no longer believe in any official authorities.
On the other side, it seems that people now feel that things after ’3.11′ are different from what they were before, although we are leading as quiet a life as before. We, perhaps, have a bad premonition that full-scale calamities will start to fall on us in no distant future. Although the tragedy of ’3.11′ is still under way, we have been threatened by the shadow of ‘x.xx’, which is the date of another disaster that will hit Tokyo some day in the near future. For the time being, everything seems to remain as it has always been, yet we cannot deny the intuition that something is different. In this pending situation, we have started to drift with no stable center.


Toru Ukai (鵜養透) graduated from the University of Tokyo, the faculty of literature, Japanese literature studies.
In 1998 Toru was awarded with the encouragement prize in 7th “New Cosmos of Photography”. In 2000 he took part in the photography exhibition “LOVE & POWER Borderless World” in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Sendai.
From 2002-2006 a series of Toru’s photographs and essays were published in the magazine of NHK Publishing, Inc. In 2005 Toru’s work was shown in the solo exhibition “From the Terminal Station ~ Guangzhou Railway Station ・ 1997″ in Tokyo, and 2011 in the solo exhibition “TOKYO/SHANGHAI Between heaven and Earth” in Shanghai.

For more of Toru’s work please visit

What Others Are Saying

  1. Dominic Bugatto Mai 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Wonderful work , always inspiring.

    • Toru Ukai Mai 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      You are my favorite photographer and I always really enjoy your delightful images. Thank you so much for your continuous cooperation, Dominic.

  2. paolo barzman Mai 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Toru-san is most certainly among the greatest living photographers… The depth, density and complexity of his pictures are only equalled by the intrinsic poetry of his vision… It is as if poetry intertwined with some deep philosophical and political understanding of our times, of our lives, create the necessary tension to hold the elements of his pictures together… as if invisible magnets and counter magnets are “outside” his pictures, creating a three dimensional tension strong enough to organize “his elements” in a idiosyncratic way —
    it is about opening the world to its own secrets with such discretion and elegance (even if a strong political mind is no doubt at work here…) that the viewer is himself propelled inside the picture, searching for a nonexistent center (Toru’s pictures never really have a center…) and must invent for himself some sense of balance, some sense of meaning… That is why perhaps Toru’s pictures are so compelling – not only because of his technical prowess, not because of his “oh so unique eye” – but because he forces us to become active in the act of seeing… he forces us to become full citizens in the land of images… his generous humanism is everywhere in his pictures… generous because, like any great artist, he tells us about our possibilities… humanist because at the heart of it all there is so much love for his world, characters, objects, metaphysical shadowy constructions…. I guess I’m just very happy I discovered Toru… makes the world a better place…
    very respectfully, my friend Toru….

    • Toru Ukai Mai 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      Thank you, Paolo. You’ve given great guidance to me all the way on Flickr and I’ve learned the importance of humanity in our representation through your soulful images and great insight. You are my master in photographic thought. Some day I will repay your kindness through my photography. Thank you so much, Paolo…


  3. krystina stimakovits Mai 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    However fleeting the moments captured the images resonate with tensions and feelings and keep lingering in my mind. They are bridge into our imagination about what it must feel like to live in your city / country today.
    No easy answers. My thoughts are with you.

    • Toru Ukai Mai 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      I’m so happy you’ve visited this feature and written such kind words. Thank you for your moving comment, Krystina.


  4. Aditya Indrajaya Mai 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I have been enjoying Mr Toru Ukai’s photo works for more than a year now, and I really learnt a lot. He comments on my photos and given constructive inputs. I just knew from the article above about his background and that he had done so many publications and exhibitions in many years.
    Aditya Indrajaya

    • Toru Ukai Mai 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      We’ve improved together through friendly rivalry on Flickr. Thank you for your continuous participation in my photography, Aditya.


  5. augusto rosa Mai 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I have know Toru’s work for a short time and reading the text above, makes sense to understand how Torus poetic /urban work builds on the espectador an uneasy feeling of peace.There is always a hidden tension present on it is layers. He is a photografer that has the special and rare ability to bring soul to his images, no matter what his eyes are registering, or how mundane the image looks at first.Look carefull it always will surprise you.congratulations!

    • Toru Ukai Mai 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you for visiting and kindly commenting, Augusto. Your images are so poetic and intellectual at the same time. I’d like to learn how to ‘construct’ meaningful images from your works.

      Best regards,

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