Over the last year, I have explored how Japanese and American cultures intersect within me. It has become thematically more centralised in my work, especially my hometowns—Kanazawa in Japan and the Bay Area in the US. My earlier works focused on how to remain connected to my Japanese heritage while living in the US, however, I have recently begun exploring how ethnically mixed people, immigrants, and children of immigrants retain certain practices and traditions while letting go and picking up others. The longer I spend time in the US I’ve noticed the way certain habits have shifted and morphed, often re-emerging as new ways of being. I often surprise myself by the unexpected ways certain parts of each culture have taken root within me. We tend to think of tradition as something stationary, from the past, and passed on for generations, but I wonder what it means to carry tradition across the ocean to a new place, where it interacts and reacts with the local customs, beliefs, and other cultures of that region. How does tradition exist within pockets of immigrant communities, and what ripples can it have if it were to become part of the greater local community?
I also find it quite interesting when similar cultural phenomena pop up in different parts of the world. In my painting, My Dekochari Bike Go Hard, I Don’t Need No Car, for example, reveals similarities between Japan and Oakland through the subcultural phenomena of bicycle decoration. The Dekochari of Japan, inspired by elaborately embellished trucks called Dekotora and Scraper Bikes of Oakland, inspired by luxury car modification were DIY responses by teens to these unattainable customised vehicles. By decorating their bikes, teens were able to participate in something that was once inaccessible to them. And, through it, began cultural movements and communities in their own respective locales.