In the end of l988, after living in the U.S. for several years, I came to Japan for a short visit. One morning a few days after my arrival to Japan while staying at a friend's house, I was awaken by an telephone call from my mother in law in Seattle. She was calling to talk about the news of the Emperor Showa's death. For my second generation Japanese-American mother in law and many elder Japanese, Emperor Showa was a person unquestionably respected and revered like a God. He was their symbol of Japan. Acting as a proxy for my mother in law, I joined the crowds of people going to the Imperial Palace to pay their respects. Japanese flags topped with black cloth or flying at half mast in the streets...Tearful old Japanese people on the Imperial Palace grounds...Flocks of people going through the motions of being reverent...Indifferent youth... Surrounded by the gloom of the event, I began to search for my definition of "country" and "Japan" for the first time in my life. Up until that day, I thought little of my Japanese nationality. It was like the mole on my face. Something I was born with.

Immedlately after my Imperial Palace grounds visit, I began work on a series of oil paintings to visually define "my country" and "my Japan." I used the death of Emperor Showa as a historical reference point. The "Showa Funeral March" depicts Takeshita Street, a narrow street lined with trendy restaurants, boutiques, and hundreds of little mom and pop shops, located in the Harajuku District of Tokyo. This street is always crowded with young kids, many from the country side surrounding Tokyo, trying desperately to "make the scene." The day of Emperor Showa's funeral was no exception. The scene that the young kids were making that day had nothing to do with dead people or world events. It was just another shopping day on Takeshita Street. Umbrellas protected the shoppers from the gloom of the day.

Showa Funeral March
Takeshita Street, Harajuku District, Tokyo
1989 127x97cm (50"x38") Oil on canvas

Tokyo Outskirt Girl
Shinmaruko, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
1989 107x81cm (42"x32") Oil on canvas

Go Go Heaven
Idol Wonderland, Harajuku District, Tokyo
1989 122x91cm (48"x36") Oil on canvas

Rising Generation
Yokohama City, Kanagawa
1989 117x 91 (46"x36") Oil on canvas

Electric Zoo
Akihabara District, Tokyo
1989 117x91cm (46"x36") Oil on canvas

Our Playground
JR Yamanote Line, Tokyo
1989 102x 81cm (40"x32") Oil on canvas

Imperial Funeral
Shinjukuku District, Tokyo
1989 135x97cm (53"x38") Oil on canvas

All right reserved SANAE TAKAHATA 2007