work > Banners, Blankets, Nobori

Amabie Across America
Video
September 2020

Amabie is a mythical Japanese sea creature. Stories and images of Amabie first appeared in a Japanese newspaper in 1846. The myth tells of a creature who predicts several years of abundant harvests followed by plague. Amabie foretold that her image--a drawing of her--would protect people against illness. Amabie's defining features are long hair, a scale-covered body, a beak, and three legs with webbed feet. This Amabie nobori (Japanese kite or banner) is hand-painted and machine-sewn. It recalls koi nobori (carp wind socks) that are traditionally flown to celebrate Tango no Sekku or Kodomo no Hi (Boys' Day or Children's Day).

I made this Amabie and flew it periodically, as a protective talisman, as I crossed the country to visit former Japanese American concentration camp sites.

The video was shot quickly and while avoiding contact with people, so it felt at turns furtive and hurried or--in the unpopulated areas-- just desolate: like a signal to no one.

The locations include a number of stops between Chicago and San Francisco including:

The Mississippi River, MN
Badlands, SD
Devils Tower, WY
Ten Sleep, WY
Grand Tetons, WY
Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Minidoka American Concentration Camp, ID
Crater Lake, OR
Avenue of the Giants, CA
Point Reyes, CA
Point Isabel, CA
Angel Island Immigration Station, CA
San Francisco, CA
Stanislaus Forest, CA
Mount Whitney, CA
Manzanar American Concentration Camp, CA
Death Valley, CA
Topaz American Concentration Camp, Utah
Mesa Verde, CO
Mount White, CO

Special thanks to Kal for flag wrangling.