Childhood -From the Experience in Bali Island to 10 years old's Darkness


At the age of 4, she stayed in Bali, Indonesia for a month accompanying her mother's work (to interview a Balinese legendary leader of performing arts, Agung Mandera). The atmosphere of Bali including the Balinese traditional shadow play (Wayang Kulit), and the darkness in nature remained as her physical memory. At the age of 10, her bullying of a close friend was revealed to her mother by a teacher. With her self-examination, this event became the seed for her to think about the relationship between "perpetrator", "victim" and also "others" in a variety of social context with her sensitivity of lights and shadows. At this age, she was writing a story titled "Dwellers in the Darkness" inspired by an American SF author Ray Bradbury, and also attracted by Leni Riefenstahl, who was active as both a film director and a photographer venturing from the sea floor to the hinterland in Africa. For her 10th birthday, her father gave her an original illustration by Osamu Tezuka, a pioneering Japanese cartoonist who is internationally known as a creator of "Kimba the White Lion". More than 20 years later, Emiko gave a presentation about the comic in the White Lion sanctuary, South Africa. This opportunity gave her a chance to rethink the meaning of the illustration, in which many beasts' hands are in handcuffs and flowing in the darkness of the outer space.          




Teenage -Rediscovery of Shadow Play in Film Making


When she was a Junior and Senior private high school student, she was enthusiastic about theater and cinema. She was especially moved by Iranian cinema the Runner (1985 film by Amir Naderi) in which children's sensitivity appears so vivid with fundamental elements such as fire or water. On the other hand, when she was 16 years old, she one day found herself 'I feel nothing' and experiencing the world as 'truly gray color' on her commuting train. In that same period, many serious juvenile crimes were occurring in the Japanese society and she felt the crisis could be because kids were losing human sensitivity and the real sensation of life without notice even though they are in material richness. At her age of 17, she directed an independent film in which she expressed how the girl in depression recovers by encountering a shadow play. She realized later that her motif "shadow play" is originated in her experience of Bali at the age of 4. 




Twenties -10 years of frustration, turns and twists


Abandoning her studies at Keio university after 2 years, she formed a Shadow Play performance group. The style was already based on human sensitivity using water, soil or plants as motifs. However, still being emotionally immature in some ways,  she experienced discouragement and sought other work opportunities including the role of assistant to the famous Japanese shadow play artist, Seiji Fujishiro. While she was on her own exploration of lights and shadows, she gradually became conscious of the earth environment. In 2008, she went over to UK to visit Schumacher College (the world's only school of Holistic Science) founded by Indian thinker Satish Kumar, and one year later went back to the southwest England, to study art. She spent one year in Devon, two years in Cornwall and continued to create works themed on lights and shadows alongside the beautiful forests and the ocean. She experienced Body-Mind Centering Method (BMC), Japanese Butoh dance and Buddhist meditation for the first time in UK and was influenced by them. 




Thirties -Going back to the origin after the Encounter with Light and Darkness in Africa


In 2011, She got involved in the White Lion conservation activity in South Africa after she encountered the conservationist Linda Tucker's book in UK. She organized an art project about the relationship between lights, shadows (and animals) of the particular location. After graduating from the UK university in 2012, she went back to the White Lion sanctuary as a scholarship student and translated Linda Tucker's book into Japanese. Her long stay with the lions (7 and a half months during 2013-2014) gave her insights into the legacy of apartheid, trophy hunting and poaching as well as the cycles of life & death and magic-religious faiths. In the local leadership program, she also absorbed the great teachings including Andrew Harvey's Shadow Work, Wynter Worsthorne's Interspecies Communication, Kalahari Bushmen's stories and a personal message & ceremony from Zimbabwe Shaman, Mandaza. Based on her all experiences and studies in the past, she set her heart on proposing the new type of shadow play, which is free from frameworks of art or performance, and rather can be a part of anyone's everyday life. In 2015, she established ”UMIRA".




She likens Light and Shadow to the breathing animals and explains that 'Shadow Play is a tool to recover the real sensation of life'. She also aims to develop Shadow Play Odyssey as a useful method to examine and solve social frames of conflicts such as the ones between perpetrators and victims, conservationists and trophy-hunters. She believes that we should not separate them with dualistic ideas but need to apply another perspective to heal the ultimate source. Her ambition is to create a method to provide a new way of looking at things with light and shadow.