2017  digital photos, CG, Wacom  illustrated-photography (digital) 
Honne (本音) and tatemae (建前) are Japanese words used to describe the contrast between one's personal feelings (honne) and the facade that one presents to the world (tatemae). While it certainly depends on the person, in Japan it's often difficult to get past the wall that people put up and get to know someone's true feelings. Generally this "wall" is a friendly one, mind you, but sometimes not genuine. I don't think this is a uniquely Japanese thing, and I think we all conceal parts of our true feelings. I thought I'd explore this idea a bit since I find it both fascinating and frustrating.

One thing I often found unsettling in my days of teaching English in Japan was how many of my students would wear a mask, not just when they were sick, but in general. Some kids wore it every day. Once in a while, during flu season, I'd walk into a jr high classroom and every single kid would be wearing one, and I'd be unable to fully "read" their social cues. I think for most people it's a matter of stopping germ transfer when a bug is going around (me as well), but for the folks who wear them every day, it seems like the tatemae mask takes on a literal form.

PS: When I was making this piece in 2017, I wondered to myself if masks could ever catch on in the USA, like they long-since had in Asia. Three years later I learned - to my dismay - that there are a lot of very stubborn people out there who don't care about public health and are unwilling to make the tiniest sacrifice of comfort to reduce the chances of spreading a deadly virus.

MODEL: Miwa   LOCATION: Nagasaki JP   MORE INFO: blog post

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