My first photo book, “THE LAST SUMMIT”, has been completed and is now on sale. Here is some information about this book.
My father passed away in July 2017 due to a slip and fall accident while climbing a mountain. What did mountain climbing mean to him? What did climbing mean to him? It is a photo book project where I attempted to dialogue with my late father by facing and reliving his last climb.
THE LAST SUMMIT
My father died in a slip-and-fall accident on July 15, 2017, at Mt. Ryokami in Chichibu County, Saitama Prefecture. At the beginning of that year, he was in the hospital to receive treatment and surgery for liver cancer, which was discovered in September of the previous year. After leaving the hospital in March, my father was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, but he had gradually resumed working and continued his hobby of mountain climbing.
“Dad went out to the mountains yesterday morning and never came back. ……”
It was a sunny morning when I received a phone call from my mother, and then it felt as if the ground was crumbling beneath my feet. After filing a missing person’s report at the police station near my parents’ house, my father-in-law gave me a ride to Mt. Ryokami.
As much as I wanted my father to be safe, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if I couldn’t find him. I was feeling hopeless. As if to reflect my feelings, it began to rain heavily as we approached the site. Before arriving at Mt. Ryokami, I received a call from the Ogano Police Station in Saitama Prefecture. They informed me that the body of someone matching my father’s description had been discovered at the bottom of the trail. When I checked the body that had been brought to the police station, it was unmistakably my father’s face. It was a hot summer day, so his body was cremated as it was. My family didn’t get to see his face on his last day.
When the nightmarish day for our family was over, what came to my mind as I was driving back to Tokyo from Chichibu, was not so much sadness over his death but rather anger over why he had gone climbing despite his health condition so soon after the surgery.
About a week after my father’s funeral, I remembered that I had family photos in a drawer of a cupboard in my parents’ house. I searched through the images, trying to find a glimpse of my father, and came across a large number of photos of him climbing mountains, which had never caught my attention before. The image of him in his mountaineering clothes and backpack, looking contented in nature as far as the eye could see, was different from the gentle father I knew at home.
I wondered why mountain climbing fascinated my father so much. To ease the resentment caused by accident, I began to look for what he saw in it. Relying on his notes, I started to purchase climbing gear, including clothing and food. I decided to climb the mountains he climbed.
“THE LAST SUMMIT” artist book by Shu Watanabe
Language: Japanese or English
Size: 215 x 312 x 24mm
69 editions only (all made to order)
Each edition will be signed and give the edition number by the artist
Photo / Edit / Binding / Print: Shu Watanabe
The book concept, storyline, and art direction developed: Yumi Goto at Reminders Photography Stronghold
English Proofreading: Sachie Takagi, Marc Kaufman
Photos provided: Katsumi Kawashima, Yuko Kawashima, Tomoki Sato, Kazuo Fukata, Mizuko Yamaoka, Norihisa Watanabe