Ricardo Nagaoka

Ricardo Nagaoka is a 21-year old Japanese photographer, born in Asunción, Paraguay, where he lived for half of his life. He later moved to Ontario, Canada in 2005 and now resides in Rhode Island, USA where he studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA in Photography). His main interest resides in the photographic documentation of immigrant subcultures in relation to his personal experiences. Today we share his series A Distant Land.

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A Distant Land

June 25th, 1936, a boat with 4 separate families from Japan arrives in Paraguay. These 33 people were part of the first wave of Japanese immigrants in the Paraguayan landscape, the group that began to work the land in hopes of developing an agricultural way of life.

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After the events of World War II, Japan needed to disperse its citizens in light of their post-war conditions. It was in the second wave of immigrants, from 1953 to 1963, that my grandparents arrived on South American soil to make a new life.

Growing up as a third generation Japanese person in Paraguay – a sansei as the Japanese would call me – has led me to question the importance of my cultural identity as successive generations are born and old ones pass away.

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These images are part of an continuing documentation of the Japanese population in Paraguay as they undergo a generational transition. I am not searching for answers, but rather reflecting on the need to preserve my own Japanese heritage. This body of work continues to expand as I try to define what cultural individuality means in a world going through rapid globalization.

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To view more of Ricardo’s work please visit his website.