From one side of the world to another – Japanese girl in Tampere

TEXT: Tia Tuovinen
PHOTOGRAPHS: Ikuko Ishida 

Ikuko Ishida in a Kurdish house near Ercis,Turkey, on 4th Nov 2011.
Ikuko Ishida came to Tampere last August, after graduating from BA of oil painting and having worked as a wedding and school event photographer in Japan. At TAMK she took courses on Fine Arts and Journalism, and she is now studying photography in Kymenlaakso Folk High School.

Before coming to Finland, Ikuko knew only few things about the country: Arabia, Marimekko and Iittala. Other than design, she had heard about Moomin, cottages and the lack of sunlight. 

“I expected that I would get different perspective. Here individualism is stronger than in my country”, Ikuko tells. 

“Here people don’t interfere others so much. They are shy and afraid of talking. At first people hesitated to talk to me, but when they started talking, they suddenly talked a lot. I heard they don’t want to commit. People don’t believe in marriage.”

In the beginning of her stay in Finland, Ikuko encountered some hardships. She had to find an apartment by herself, she didn’t have confidence in her English skills and she didn’t know any Finnish. Now Ikuko speaks some words in Finnish, and she considers herself lucky to have lived around Finnish people rather than just exchange students. After preparing her photography exhibition last December, she got to talk with the teachers and other people in TAMK.
Earthquake-hit place in Ercis, Turkey, 2011. On October 23rd, there was a big earthquake in eastern Turkey. People who didn't lose their houses were afraid of earthquakes and lived in emergency tents just in case.
Ikuko is working with documentary photography. She is interested in serious things, for example in natural disaster problems and poverty. Ikuko is also interested in developing countries. According to her, Finland is a peaceful country, so since last year she has been taking pictures of daily life in Finland. Before, Ikuko was taking pictures of earthquakes in Japan. 

People waiting for bus, in Tampere, Finland. It is often said that Finns are shy and tend to keep distance between people. This photo may convey this character. Ikuko’s photographs from Tampere can be seen at TAF exhibition, on the 3rd floor painting room of the TAMK Finlayson building.

What Ikuko says about everyday life: “I can relax better here, because the systems in total are simpler. After seeing the daily life in here, it made me think about what is freedom. There are less social codes for everything in Finland. For example, when I visited a primary school, the teaching is more relaxing than in my country. There is less discipline. On the other hand, for me it’s too free.”