Shikoku No Seijaku (Shikoku Silence)
Shikoku Island is the least populous of Japan’s four major landmasses. The negative effects of Japan’s declining population and the migration of younger people to employment centres on Honshu and Kyushu Islands are starkly evident there.
Many of Shikoku's elementary Schools stand as ‘haikyo’ (ruins), devoid of students due to a lack of local children. Modern yet empty highways cut through the island's mountainous interior linking ageing ‘shutter towns’ where countless homes and businesses stand deserted. Such projects fail to connect and inject prosperity into ageing communities but rather highlight the increasing decline of Shikoku and the absence of opportunities for young people.
In some regional towns, up to half the residential buildings stand empty and are known as ‘akiya’ (empty house). The Government has recently incentivised the purchase of these homes to encourage young people to return to regional areas. In some cases, homes are offered conditionally 'free' to couples if they remain in these towns for a given period of time. The population of Nagoro town is now so small that the elderly residents have populated the town with 'scarecrow' mannequins posed as if undertaking the activities of their former neighbours.
Through ‘Shikoku no Seijaku’ ( Shikoku Silence ) I aim to capture the melancholy beauty that remains in the wake of the region’s pronounced social change whilst documenting the disappearance of vibrant and authentic communities.