Yume no Shima “Dream Island”
by Masato Okada
My husband, Masato Okada, was born and raised in Kobe and settled in Tokyo when he was about twenty-seven. Not long afterward he became fascinated by Yume no Shima, the massive waste treatment center and landfill on Tokyo Bay. Over a decade from the late 1970s he worked to photograph this barren sweep of urban refuse and its neighboring areas stretching east along the waterfront toward the city of Urayasu.
His works capture an expanse of earth and mud and sludge muffling all under the same clayey hue while still tracing the motley outlines of the detritus it buries. The surface variously bubbles and liquefies, erodes, cracks under the baking sun, or forms into rivulets: before the concrete ribbons of the metropolitan expressway closed in on it, the entire area was one vast canvas of mud. Okada passed away in March 2006, but these photographs give testament to the youthful days he spent huddled down next to the very skin of Tokyo.
Sumie Okada (Tanabe)
Masato Okada’s photographs of the surface mire of the Yume no Shima landfill intrigued me from the time they first appeared, which is why I featured them in Yu magazine (no. 1022) under the title “Disintegration” back when I was its photographic editor. That was thirty-five years ago. Here, through Okada’s lens, the invisible energies swirling out from Yume no Shima—this place that was created to bury away the dark side of Tokyo’s development, out of sight and out of mind—are transfigured into the elemental forms of mud. From Tokyo’s most blighted spot, then, we have with us works of the utmost grace.
Min Tanaka - Between Mountain and Sea
Photographs by Masato Okada