July 24, 2009
Decades ago and worlds away from Texas, in Yokahama, Japan, a young Takaoka Masayuki sat and stared at his food. Not quite 8 years old, he was questioning in his mind - quietly, intently - how he might be able to see the food without also seeing shadows.
"I saw a photograph with food pictured without any shadows," Takaoka said, "and I wanted to get my own camera and determine how to capture the food in just such a manner."
Enthralled by American imagery, Takaoka set out in 1983 on the first of many trips to the U.S., all the while exploring photography as an art form and snapping images of anything of interest to him. This journey would lead him, time and again, to the Lone Star State.
"I have photographed throughout the United States," Takaoka said, "but I always gravitated back to Texas. I started taking pictures of Texas, and I was captured. I felt like it took a picture of me."
"Many places had points of interest, but Texas seemed to be an entire state of mind, each point of interest, within, pointing to others and idiosyncratic of something other than anywhere else."
Takaoka sums up Texas in two words, "nostalgic scenery," and he contrasts the state with his country of origin.
Today, Takaoka speaks fondly of his new home in Chigasaki City, "a beach town in a large bay," as a welcoming place "with a window view of Fuji and always fresh fish to eat." His love of Texas, however, remains on display in Texas, at least until summer's end. "Under a Texas Sky: Photographs by Takaoka Masayuki" is open to the public until August 27 at the International Cultural Center of Texas Tech.