The photographer captures the offspring of the Japanese samurai


Everything is not what is seen in Everett Kennedy Brown's enchanting photographic series for Japan's samurai. While Brown's photos resemble objects from the edge of the feudal period of warriors, they document the unique fashion and aesthetics of the modern samurai.
His members are members of a Samurai descendant community in Soma, Fukushima, who keep alive the fugitive traditions today. The American photographer used a technique of the 19th century to achieve the appearance of images. "The colloidal fluid plate process dates back to the 1850s and the images produced seem old and historic," Brown told CNN his images, which appear at the hpgrp gallery in New York this month.

Photographing the city's inhabitants in this style "gave them the opportunity to think about their place in history," said Brown.

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On March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster hit the Tohoku North-East region in Japan, causing mass destruction and loss of life. Damage and fears of radiation have forced some residents of Soma to leave their homeland.
Brown – who has been based in Japan for several decades – traveled to Fukushima County after the disaster of March 11 to connect with the people who live there. As soon as he met, he met Michitane Soma, the head of a warrior samurai tribe that spans back 34 generations through 800 years of history. Soma wanted Brown to photograph his community using the sticky plate technique that was known.

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Despite the tragedy, residents of Soma made the annual racing festival that year, during which hundreds of samurai and locals descended with colorful traditional garments to honor the samurai code.

The Samurai traditionally wore a sleeveless coat – known as "jinbaori" – made of deer, silk or cotton that could be knocked on clothing or armor.

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In a photo, Michitane Soma wears a jinbaori made by sik. Abstract geometric symbols also adorn his trousers, which are known as "hakama". Symbols are believed to protect the wearer from evil, said Brown. popular designs include dragonfly, dragon and carp motifs.

"Carp symbolizes success, longevity, courage, ambition and persistence," he said.

Everett Kennedy Brown

Photographs of the people who participated in the festival in the past and the traditional costumes that wore the walls of the current houses of Soma residents, Brown added.

One snapshot per person

Brown has photographed 44 people – some of the old important samurai families and others whose families have a strong faith in local samurai tradition – for a period of 2 years.

"We've only taken one photo for each person, so for each of these portraits there was only one chance per person," said Brown.

Everett Kennedy Brown

He created a dark room in the place where he made his glasses negative. Each session – from the development of the negative to its development – took 20 minutes and the photos had to be taken while the negative glass was damp. Every person had to sit still for two seconds.

Brown said his photographic series serves both as a record and as a reminder of a difficult era in the history of the people of Soma, and now aims to place the images in a local museum. Promoting a Cultural Dialogue Brown said that since the disaster many Soma residents have become more determined to pass the tradition of samurai to the next generation as a source of purpose and identity.

Everett Kennedy Brown

For his next work, Brown wants to explore how the origins of Japanese samurai fashion can be found all over the world. "These projects came to Japan from the Chinese, from Muslims, from the Portuguese, from the Dutch," explained Brown.

"I want to start creating more dialogue about where this fashion comes from, because most people think it's just Japanese," he added.