Participation from the 12th March until 6th April 2014.

Natsuko Kitamura is an artist (craft, sculpture, paint) from Tokyo. She makes creations about the strange and funny habits of daily life. During Kitamura’s stay with Deshima AIR in Amsterdam, she wanted to make a ‘Omiyage’ for the Netherlands.

Omiyage is the Japanese word for souvenir and Japans souvenir culture is quite unique. It does not only entail the local products of a certain region, but also the gifts you would bring to family and friends when visiting them.

Plan before participating
“When I compared the overseas countries and Japan, I felt  that the Japanese ‘omiyage culture’ is unique. ‘Omiyage’ is a representation of a characteristic of the land, and by presenting it to someone, you spread the culture of a certain country to another country. As a Japanese staying in the Netherlands and a souvenir enthusiast, I planned to make a souvenir of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.”

My process during participation
“In order to make ‘omiyage’ I studied the characteristics, industry, culture, life of the Netherlands (Amsterdam). I went to a sightseeing spot and also went to the museum. Unfamiliar to japan, the weekend markets were fresh. From my daily life during my stay, I felt the shape of ‘the Dutchness of Holland’ and ‘Amsterdam Lessiness’.

After the project participation
“I feel that this ‘omiyage project’ would be meaningful not only in one country, but also in more countries and with more people. I am planning to spread it in many countries and regions with this project in the Netherlands as a trigger.”

Kitamura presented her works April 2014 at the ‘Japans Cultuur Centrum’ (Japanese Cultural Centre). The ‘Omiyage’ were based on things she loved in the Netherlands and the stories that she could tell to her friends and family back in Japan. She especially loved the Dutch kroket, bitterballen and stroopwafels.

She had created Omiyage in the shape of typical Dutch snacks such as ‘croquettes’ and so-called ‘bitterballs’. Strikingly enough she’d given the snacks little legs, which made me think of the Dutch expression “the food has gotten legs”. An expression that is used for food that has started to mould and looks as if it’s coming alive and is about to walk away on its own new-grown legs.’

– Jan van den Berg, film director and performer

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