locale part i: presentation
location: the japanese park cemetery
Why? I visited the location often in JC for research for a history project, and it’s a place that I find really peaceful and historically rich, so I thought it would be apt if I used this project to dig down into the unique aspects of the site. :))))))
Photographs and written observations about the Park. :))
Here’s a brief overview of the history of the Park, which is Southeast Asia’s largest Japanese cemetery, housing 910 tombs. :O
So as a cemetery would have it….graves and tombstones dating from the pre-war times to the post-war times. In my presentation I gave a brief overview of some of the different tombs, like tomb markers for the karayuki-san, Japanese prostitutes who were surprisingly some of the first Japanese people on the idea. As the community flourished, the Japanese’s socio-economic status heightened and you can see this from the shift in the tombstone to more elaborate designs. With the war came memorials and tombstones dedicated to the war dead as well. I thought it was interesting how you could see the rise and fall of the community through the different groups of tombstones.
There are a lot of plaques littered around the Park, especially at tombstones of notable Japanese people who for example, made contributions to not just the Japanese community, but pre-war Singapore as well.
Interestingly enough the prayer hall isn’t supposedly for a fixed religion, so anyone can come here to pray. Midō is a religion neutral term apparently.
On my first visit I sat down on the steps and noted down some observations about the place:
Recorded some ambient noise but there was really barely anything other than rustling haha.
live site sketches
I coloured them in!! For fun and joy and laughter!! JK I thought I could use them for the presentation or the zine but somehow they didn’t fit in anywhere so.
Actually got more sketches but I paiseh cos for some reason I just don’t have enough patience to properly draw the shrine without it going wonky ://////// and the rest are just tombs that are rly boring to look at ahahaha (also I have no time to photo scan aa)
interviews (primary research)
So I had quite a lot of interviewees, around 11!! For the first day I only got around like 3 people and they gave me non-descript answers. But the next time I went back I used tactics like saying I’m an NTU student…..asking for their name only at the end of the interview……and everything went much smoother. Plus they were much more open compared to the previous interviewees.
The interview with Hudson and Roy was the most fruitful one I feel?? I chatted with them for almost half an hour and they talked about stuff like the war, and their grandparents’ views on it, their perception of the Japanese and the history of the place. It was a fun chat :))))
The interview with Janice also went very well!! She really gave a lot of insight on her perception of the place and the way it changed after coming here. Plus we had a long chat on the historical value of the place and she was just very warm and friendly oo :3c Sorry I didn’t catch her husband’s name but he didn’t talk much in the interview apart from one sentence or so :’)
I also interviewed the caretaker, whose name I Do Not Know 🙁 But towards the end of the project he started recognising me every time I came to the Park on the weekends lmao. He gave me information on the previous caretaker and more on his job, which is to tend to the Park everyday.
Most of the interviewees didn’t want to have their picture taken so by sheer force of my memory (which is like damn questionable) I cranked out caricatures of them for the presentation HAHA
Some of the interviews were rather short but still useful? For example residents don’t visit the Park very often. Plus when I walked past the Park after parading around the residential area I found another family who were?? Japanese!! And I interviewed the father, Yohhei. They migrated to Singapore for his job, and he gave me a lot of insights on the way the community regards the place, for example taking care of the place to show their respects, but at the same time disliking talking about the war. I think it’s a very complex stance when it comes to a Japanese view of the cemetery.
NOTE: I tried to visit the Japanese Association but turns out it was trespassing if you didn’t have an appointment. So when I emailed them to try and get an appointment or even an email interview they didn’t even get back to me…..and when I called them they were like OK we check but they didn’t…reply….thanks guys :/ Literally the same thing happened like 2 years ago lmao
So I visited the my old haunt the Central Library and relocated the books I used for research back in JC, and extracted photos from the pre-war Japanese community as well as older photos of the Park from the 1990s, plus a lot of maps. But the maps were really hard to turn into scanned versions even with Photoshop so. :(( I kinda wished I had used them in my presentation or zine aaa.
More secondary research from online sources about funeral rites, customs, types of Buddhist headstones……stuff like that :)) At this point I was still quite frustrated and confused about what to concentrate on so I tried to categorise stuff into mindmaps to clear the clutter.
curation process for presentation
This was my plan for presentation!! There’s nothing much to say now other than for you to look at my presentation hehe. Which is here:
- Good curation of material
- Concise yet comprehensive presentation
- A wide range of material like stories, drawings, photographs, surveys and videos
- Could focus on the aspects of the motifs in the Park for the zine
- Yes, we will use Microsoft Hyperlapse
- Managed to portray a place with a dark connotation with a bright theme
- Yay for illustrations!! Which helped to understand my research
- Presentation flows well :))
- “Felt like a run-through” which I’m assuming means it was really fast? But I didn’t want to go past 5 min too much 🙁
Even though the process was really tiring and tedious and towards the end of creating my presentation till 4am the day before I was so close to death, not gonna lie actually it was a really fruitful and enjoyable process. From being able to draw so much?? For a project…made me happee…and also being able to have insightful conversations with other people about a site that is really significant to me also really opened my eyes to more. And also getting familiar with the Park…one day I will make friends with the ginger cats in the place. :’3c And I was quite happy with the presentation as it was a good balance between personal illustration and insights, and formal research and observations.
Ok bye onto the zine process!!!