top of page
Art Photobook Reviews

Zaido by Yukari Chikura

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

How do you review a book which has already had so much written about it? My answer is not to try. You surrender to its magic and allow it to talk to you.


A silvery emptiness, like the inside of your eyelids, or a blank cinema screen. And as eyelids open, curtains drift apart. The subconscious runs for cover as a new story begins, the screen flickers and slowly an image builds. Translucent pages drift down, as delicate as the snow they seemingly represent, and with each layer an image becomes more discernible, until finally the scene is set. From single homesteads and huddled clusters of houses, to the small towns of northern Japan, the trailing fingers of winter blankets the landscape. Her gift of beauty, in exchange for penance and ceremony. Why Zaido?

Sandaled feet crunch through snow and ice. The robes of the ancients process through time. The then becomes the now. An ancestor’s calling, a tradition in perpetuity. Why Zaido? Communities rise and congregate, an annual call to arms. A celebration of pagan times, performed with a zeal and respect that comprises both theatre and faith. Look after us as, as you did our forefathers,

Photographs line the walls of a liquor store. Celebration of the past.

A performer sits alone in contemplation and preparation. Respect for the moment.

A child drinks from a ceremonial cup. Hope for the future.

A staircase, hewn from rock, rises through trees as integral as the slope through which it cuts. The first step beckons, but the terminus is obscured. From one beginning, infinite destinations. Each step a meditation, a promise of clarity, of enlightenment. A journey for the taking.

Maybe a promise of enlightenment, maybe a truth to crush the soul.

The strength of a pilgrim, the faith of a child. O-mikuji* dance in trees. Competing for good fortune.

Preparation for the dance. The devotion of the few. Ice water on naked flesh, the supplication of the willing. Blades of winter held at bay by a blanket of night and faith, as thick and heavy as any fur.

Why Zaido? Blacks as thick and as solid as the dreams that hold. Diamonds and ice. Memories and dreams. The solace of dreams, the deceit of memories. Like a pebble tossed by the sea, time erodes, smooths, purifies. The hard edges of truth, tumbled away until a palatable version of the past remains. When seeking a memory from those tossed and tumbled stones, sometimes it is best to pick the one with the sharp edge. The truth resides in the barbed and jagged surface. At journey’s end, a return to the final pages. As light and silver were our guides on awakening, so the midnight blacks and snowflake kisses light our way to a safe passage home.

Why Zaido? Zaido, it seems is many things. A perpetual recreation of memory and worship. An artist’s gift to the world. A love letter. Ghosts laid to rest, and promises kept .......yes, promises kept. ~ for Yukari-san

* O-mikuji are random fortunes printed on strips of paper, and obtained for a nominal offering at temples and shrines in Japan. Zaido is printed by Steidl. Sent from my iPhone


bottom of page