Adelaide Festival Centre In Association With Darwin Festival Present Yasukichi Murakami – Through A Distant Lens at Space Theatre from 7.30pm on Tue Sep 9 & Wed Sep 10.

Photographs come to life in a conversation between a photographer from the past and one from the present

Based on the true story of Japanese-Australian photographer Yasukichi Murakami, what begins as a search for the past, becomes a quest for immortality in Yasukichi Murakami – Through a Distant Lens.

The historical muse of this work, Yasukichi Murakami, lived with his wife and their nine children amongst Darwin’s high society in pre-World War II. Settled in Australia for more than 40 years, Murakami was well known and respected as a photographer, entrepreneur and inventor, until the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In a multidisciplinary performance work, utilising photographic projections, video, narration, dramatic action, original music and soundscape, creator Mayu Kanamori seeks to unravel the loss of collective memory caused by war between the country of her birth and her migratory homeland.


Yasukichi Murakami was born in Japan in 1880 and at the aged of 16 he moved to Australia and resided in Cossack, Western Australia. As a teen he worked with a carter, delivering water, but soon secured permanent employment with Takazò Nishioka, a Japanese storekeeper, with whom he moved to Broome in 1900.

With his employer’s wife Eki Nishioka, he set up a photography studio in the back of the shop. His work was predominantly portraiture of Japanese pearling workers, but also extended to the broader racial mix of early Broome. Murakami’s photos show the friendly relationship between Japan and Australia. They also documented his other area of work in diving suit innovation. Murakami was heavily involved in the pearling industry, including setting up the first cultured pearl venture, but after the collapse of the European pearl shell market he found himself in financial difficulties.

Murakami moved to Darwin in 1935 with his Australian born wife and nine children, and opened a photographic portrait studio in the Stone Houses on Cavenagh Street. He lived the high life with Darwin’s elite, and photographed everyone and anything in town until the war. The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Murakami was arrested as an enemy alien and died whilst interned in Victoria.

Japanese-born photographer and contemporary performance maker Mayu Kanamori tells a story of Yasukichi Murakami and her search for his missing photographs impounded by the authorities in 1941.

It is a story of unlikely friendships and business dealings between white, black and yellow Australia, challenging all racial conventions of an era; and of ambition and innovation denied by the course of history.

As a performance Yasukichi Murakami – Through a Distant Lens offers a contemporary framing of Murakami’s life through the lens of modern day Japanese Australian photographer Mayu Kanamori. The story gives insights into otherwise unknown Japanese pioneers in Australia, their untold stories of internment during the war, and of his descendants today.

Yasukichi Murakami – Through a Distant Lens is a conversation with a photographer from a time when photography was considered truth of a moment past; and a quest with a modern day photographer who examines the meaning of photography, its archival practices and how it shapes our individual and collective memories.

Yasukichi Murakami – Through a Distant Lens is an attempt by a post war Japanese Australian artist to unravel the loss of collective memory caused by violence of the past war between the country of her birth and the country where she migrated to, ironically made possible by our contemporary understanding that photographs no longer tell the truth.


Mayu Kanamori is photographer and a performance maker based in Sydney, Australia. Her works combine photography, performance art, videography, and storytelling with emphasis on documentary photography in collaboration with artists from diverse genres and disciplines.

She was raised in Roppongi, Tokyo and was educated at the AmericanSchool in Tokyo, Japan. Kanamori grew up bilingual in English and Japanese. She moved to Australia in 1981 and studied Philosophy and Writing at ToorakCollege in Melbourne, Victoria.

Kanamori started her career in journalism as a researcher and photographer for both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers’ Tokyo Bureau. She then went on to work as a freelance photojournalist and worked across numerous projects.

Her collaborative works include In Repose, a site-specific multi arts project at century old Japanese cemeteries in Australia, A Night of Wonder, a site -specific performance and installation in a rice mill as part of CAD Factory – SunRice contemporary arts partnership, and theatre work, CHIKA: A Documentary Performance

Kanamori has received a commendation for United Nations Association Media Peace Award Promotion of Multicultural Issues, Broome NAIDOC Non Indigenous Reconciliation Award for The Heart of the Journey, and has been a finalist for Nikon-Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism, Harries National Digital Awards, Olive Cotton National Photographic Portrait Awards, Julie Millowick Photography Prize and Conrad Jupiter’s National Art Prize.

Mayu has contributed to wide range of books and publications and has exhibited and performed throughout Australia and Asia. She is a board member of The Koto Music Institute of Australia.



Yasukichi Murakami reunites Mayu Kanamori with Malcolm Blaylock, who directed her previous work CHIKA: a Documentary Performance. Malcolm is a former member of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council and has been a lecturer in Theatre Studies at the Centre for the Performing Arts in Adelaide.

Blaylock previously worked as the Artistic Director of the Darwin Festival. He focused the program on Australia’s vibrant Indigenous culture and on Northern Australia’s strong connection with Asia and the Pacific. He has also directed large-scale events, notably the Melbourne River Spectaculars and the opening event of the Melbourne Festival in 1998.

He has also instigated a number of cross cultural theatre and musical performances in his working career including Ngarakuruwala, featuring the Wangatunga Strong Women’s Group from the Tiwi Islands; Cantar Timor, featuring 30 artists from Timor Leste; Liberty Songs, a collaboration between Indigenous singers and women from Darwin’s Liberian Refugee community.

Blaylock has extensive experience as director of arts and film festivals including St Kilda Film Festival and the Heart of Gold International Film Festival. He has recently curated an Australian film program for Interfilm Berlin and has been a member of the international jury for Interfilm Berlin and Bilbao in Spain.


Jane Bodie is an acclaimed writer, mentor and director. She writes for theatre and television and was previously Head of Playwriting at the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

Her plays including Still (2002), Ride (2003), Hilt (2003), A Single Act (2006), Fourplay (2007), Hinterland (2013), Music (2014) and This Year’s Ashes (2014) have been performed worldwide.

She was short-listed for The Ewa Czajor Memorial Award in 2000, nominated for the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award in 2002 and won a Green Room Award for Outstanding Writing on the Melbourne Fringe in 2003 for Still.

In 2007, Bodie took home the prestigious Louis Esson Prize for Drama awarded by Australia’s Premier’s Literary Awards for her play A Single Act, which was produced to critical acclaim at Hampstead Theatre in 2005 and at Melbourne Theatre Company in 2006.


Terumi Narushima is a composer and performer and has presented works across numerous festivals in Australia and internationally.

She writes both acoustic and electronic music with a particular focus on alternative tuning systems. Her microtonal projects include; Tritriadic Chimes, a sound installation for LA MicroFest, and Hidden Sidetracks, as well as a composition for custom-made instruments commissioned by Ensemble Offspring at the Sydney Opera House.

Narushima has worked as a musician and sound designer for various film and theatre collaborations, and is currently a lecturer in Music at the University of Wollongong.


Mic is an acclaimed video artist, designer, film editor and producer. His work spans the fields of theatre, opera, dance, installation, feature film and television.

In 2012 he was awarded an Australian Council Creative Australia Outstanding Artist’s Fellowship in inter-disciplinary practice for Visual Design.

Gruchy’s video art has been shown around the world and is included in collections such as MOMA in New York. His theatrical design credits include productions for Opera Australia, Sydney Dance Company, Legs on the Wall and numerous international arts festivals.

Yasukichi Murakami – Through a Distant Lens is produced by Performance 4a, a leading producer of contemporary Asian Australian works for the stage.


Arisa Yura has worked extensively as an actor, voice-over artist and presenter in many productions in her home country, Australia, as well as Japan and most recently in Canada. Her theatre credits include: Ariel in The Tempest, Monica in After Dinner , Nurse Sugimoto in Rival of Men (Marshmallow Wave) and most recently she plays multiple roles in Justin Fleming’s His Mother’s Voice (Bakehouse Theatre). Her television and film credits include: Apprentice chef in Lifestyle Café (XYZ Networks, Foxtel) and her debut lead role in Ballad of Praying Mantis, winner of an Eat Carpet Award (SBS). Arisa is thrilled to be part of this fabulous ensemble!


Kuni is an accomplished stage, film and television actor with an illustrious career both here in Australia and Japan. His television credits include Changi, Pizza, McLeod’s Daughters, The Informant, The Prime Minister is Missing, Sea Patrol, Spirited and the highly acclaimed Sisters of War. In film he has appeared in Muriel’s Wedding, Heaven’s Burning, The Great Raid, Japanese Story, The Tender Hook, Emperor and most recently Unbroken (director Angelina Jolie). Kuni has also worked as an onstage narrator for the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, the PMF and a joint concert by the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras.


Annette Shun Wah is a broadcaster, actor, writer and producer. As Executive Producer of Performance 4a she produced the theatrical storytelling shows Stories East & West (Belvoir St Theatre, Riverside, Zenith) and Stories Then & Now (Carriageworks, Casula Powerhouse, OzAsia Festival) both co-directed with William Yang. Her original concept for The Serpent’s Table – combining storytelling, performance, theatrical installation and food – was co-produced by Performance 4a and Griffin Theatre Company at Carriageworks, and was one of the hits of Sydney Festival 2014.

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Image of Kuni Hashimoto and Arisa Yura courtesy of Miho Watanabe

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