Yuki Kihara’s ‘A Song about Samoa サーモアについてのうた’: Reimagining the Pacific through Japanese Relations


  • Ian Fookes University of Auckland




Yuki Kihara, Kimono, siapo, S`amoa, Aidscape, Japan, Segalen, climate change


Yuki Kihara’s work ‘サーモアについてのうた [Sāmoa no uta] ‘A Song about Sāmoa’ (2019) is a series of five installations, each made up of garments blending two traditions into one new medium: the siapo-kimono. Focussing on the first two series, ‘Vasa’ [Ocean] and ‘Fanua’ [Land], the present article discusses the ways in which this hybrid medium should be understood in terms of kimono culture, and in the context of other aesthetic appropriations of kimono, such as Serge Mouangue’s WAfrica Project (2007-2017) and the ‘Imagine Oneworld Kimono Project’ (2005-2020). The siapo dimension of Kihara’s work is subsequently explored with reference to Visesio Siasau’s tapa installation, ‘o onotu’ofe’uli- onotu’ofekula’ (2014), and Dame Robin White’s ngatu work, ‘To See and to Know Are Not Necessarily the Same’ (2021) which was created in collaboration with Taeko Ogawa and Ebonie Fifita. On the strength of this analysis, it is argued that Kihara’s work does not seek to innovate the traditions of siapo and kimono so much as to engage with the contemporary political issues depicted on the siapo-kimono’s surface. Kihara’s work should thus be understood in terms of its political message and as a form of mural. The latter part of the article explores the implications of this idea, highlighting the way Kihara focuses on the Japanese influence in the Pacific, and asks finally whether ‘A Song about Sāmoa’ is in fact, Kihara’s ‘Guernica’.

Author Biography

Ian Fookes, University of Auckland

As a lecturer at Waipapa Temata Rau / University of Auckland, my primary purpose is to help students improve their written, spoken, and visual communication in academic and business contexts. This role is informed by my teaching and learning experiences in Tahiti, France, Japan, and New Zealand. I serve a range of communities within academia and am involved in editing Ekistics and the New Habitat, an international peer-reviewed journal presenting research into the problems and solutions of human settlements. Through my research portfolio I seek to understand the ways that intercultural experience influences the representation of other cultures, and how the experience of writing and art making leads to self-knowledge and identity construction. This research informs my contribution to Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, as a course coordinator, guest lecturer, and postgraduate supervisor.



How to Cite

Fookes, I. (2022). Yuki Kihara’s ‘A Song about Samoa サーモアについてのうた’: Reimagining the Pacific through Japanese Relations. Ekistics and The New Habitat, 81(3), 68–88. https://doi.org/10.53910/26531313-E2021813620

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