Naoko Mabon made two site-visits to Nagasaki-city and Yubari-city in Japan. The overall aim for these visits is to forge a concrete plan of a new exchange between Japan and Aberdeen of Scotland.
Despite the well-known historical relationship between Japan and Aberdeen through Thomas Blake Glover, Aberdeenshire-born 19th Century ‘Scottish Samurai’ merchant, currently there is no relevant art/cultural exchange happening between the two locations.
To activate and highlight this narrative, Kyushu-born Aberdeen-based Mabon visited two Japanese cities with parallels to Aberdeen. One is Nagasaki, Glover’s long-term living place. The other is Yubari, a city also built around energy but has engaged with creative activities as a response to transitioning away from being an active coal mining city. These cities are thus appropriate locations for new and long-lasting exchanges looking to Aberdeen’s past and future.
In Nagasaki, Naoko had a meeting with Mr Kitagawa and Mr Walker from Glover Garden, and Mr Maeda and Ms Fujikawa from the International Affairs Division of Nagasaki City. She also revisited to see the team at Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum – Mr Nonaka and Mr Inaba from Curatorial team, and Mr Moriya and Ms Miyazaki from Educational team.
In Yubari, Naoko visited Ms Manami Sato of Shimizusawa Project. The Project runs Shimizusawa Community Gate, former coal-mine housing renovated into a community-based complex for art and cultural activities for the local area and for an active residency programme for visiting national/international artists. She was invited to give a public talk where she introduced the art and cultural activities of Aberdeen/ Scotland to Yubari community.