The funeral | Miyamoto-san

Miyamoto-san - the funeral

In February of this year, I got a call from Soichiro for an emergency. One of the most important family bosses, Miyamoto-san, had suffered a fatal stroke. His death was imminent.

I pretty much dropped everything, and jumped on the plane to Tokyo. Even though he had kept very much to himself and always remained camera-shy, I had observed, gotten to know, and photographed the man for over 12 months; to see him lying there in that hospital bed, in a coma with no chance of recovery, felt very...

human.

The greater context of him being part of a Yakuza family was not relevant to me at that point. I saw before me a dying man. I touched his hand, I talked to him about the little time we had spent together, hoping he'd hear me.

The funeral of Miyamoto-san - Tokyo, February 2010

I go to visit him three days in a row. On the third night, at 2.30am, he dies. I offer the family my condolences in the only possible way I can: I look for and print all images I made of him before, and over the course of the next days, during the week long private wake, I repeatedly bring images to them.

His girlfriend and older brother are grateful, and allow me to document the traditional Buddhist rituals surrounding the funeral that is about to take place. But even then, most images I feel I shouldn't show, they seem too intimate. I'll think it over.... time will tell. Perhaps in the greater context of the story I'm telling they'll find their place.

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It was cold those days, and I was underdressed.