Dance tiger, dance is a joint exhibition by photographer Mayumi Hirata and painter/tattoo artist Horiren the Ist.
The exhibition has been scheduled to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the tsunami in Japan. Its central theme is the “tiger dance” ("toramai") from the devastated town of Otsuchi in Iwate.
The exhibition will break with much of the downbeat imagery often associated with the tsunami and its aftermath and instead convey the energy of the people who decided to stay and rebuild their homes, whilst sharing a common bond of tiger dancing. It will feature traditional scroll paintings depicting tigers thriving in adversity, portraits of tiger dancers, as well as photographs of Otsuchi town, local festivals and actual tiger heads and costumes.
Mayumi Hirata is a graduate of the University of Westminster and Kansai Women’s Art College. Her work focuses on portraits and shots of musicians and other performers.
Mayumi first became aware of the tiger dancers in March 2012, the first anniversary of the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster, when they performed at St. Johns Wood Church, the London Eye and the Japanese embassy.
Having seen the passionate, powerful tiger dance in London. Mayumi traveled to Tohoku to see the real tiger dance in its birthplace, Otsuchi, a town which was largely washed away by the tsunami. There she became convinced that the tiger dance is a source of energy and hope for the inhabitants of a devastated region who face an otherwise uncertain future – more than this, it is an inspiration to us all. Mayumi has since published a photo book “Dance tiger, dance” which is available in the UK and Japan.
Mayumi lives in London, where she also performs traditional taiko drumming, as a member of the Thames Taiko team who have performed at venues raging from Trafalgar Square to the Japanese embassy.
Horiren the Ist graduated from the Nippon Institute of Design. She initially worked for a computer-game design company. She subsequently moved further afield and became a successful muralist; however she was unable to shake her desire to become a tattoo artist and, at the age of 30, took the path of self-study. Now, years later, she has devoted herself to the profession and is officially known as HORIREN the 1st.
Her official name - Horiren is a reflection of her belief in "irezumi" or tattoos - indelible designs created by inserting pigment into punctures in the skin. Though indelible, they nonetheless have a life. As the skin ages, the initial vibrant colour loses its original freshness.
Horiren's tattoo work is destined to fade away, as her tattooed subjects age. For her nothing is left after the human body perishes, this is the reality, there is no eternity - Yet this transience itself is a representation of what makes our life beautiful.
Horiren, is based in Tokyo, Japan. But travels widely. She continues to work in a range of media, including traditional Japanese painting. She also lectures, in particular on the theme of the great earthquake in East Japan, the subsequent tsunami and the nuclear catastrophy which followed. Following the Tsunami she has donated many of her works to shinto shrines in the Tohoku region.
To mark her 15th anniversary as a tattoo artist, Horiren orchestrated an interactive virtual world gallery, in which 100 of her works were simultaneously captured and uploaded on 23 November, 2013, by a worldwide network of collaborators to their Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking sites. As she says: “a dot connects to another dot and becomes a line to form a big circle around the world"(or in other words - even though we live far apart, we are all connected).
Toramai (Tiger Dance) : Around 830 years ago, a landlord in the Tohoku region ordered his soldiers to dance in tiger costumes in order to raise their morale. This was the first expression of what later developed into Toramai. Back then, going to sea was very dangerous, fishermen and their families would pray for a safe return. Taking their inspiration from tigers, which were believed to make very long distance return journeys (of up to 4000km), they incorporated the Toramai into those prayers. It was also believed that tigers had special powers to prevent or extinguish fires. Since the seaside area of Tohoku suffered from many fires, mostly due to earthquakes, it was only natural to incorporate Toramai into fire prevention rituals.