The Ibasyo project is a photographic project that documents the lives of six young Japanese girls who suffer from self-harm. In Japanese, ibasyo refers to the physical and emotional space where one can exist.

Domestic violence, rape, and bullying are some of the reasons behind self-harm. For better or for worse, the “culture of shame”, inherent in Japanese society, has prevented these stories from being told. Domestic violence seems to be prevalent in many families and rape is quite commonplace, yet self-harm victims choose to remain silent.

Deep emotional wounds have robbed these girls of their self-esteem. Faced with depression and panic attack disorders, they are unable to live a normal existence. They cannot appreciate their own value, and therefore, believe they are worthless. For these girls, harming themselves is a form of self-punishment for perceived notions of worthlessness, while also easing their anxiety and stress. And so, such destructive behavior has become the way for these girls to reaffirm their own existence. However, when they see their scars, the girls despise themselves more for what they have done. Like the Möbius strip, the cycle is endless.

The girls have found it difficult to feel their ibasyo. While the girls don’t justify their acts, the existence of self-harm reflects one of the darker side of Japan’s modern society.

At the end, Ibasyo project became a unique book traveling project in order to bring something back to the girls in the photographs.

I made six copies of hand made books, one for each of the girls. The second half of each book was made up of blank pages. Since 2014, the books have traveled all over the world. More than 300 people have participated in this project. They have written messages, made drawings, and pasted photographs to the girls. The result was more beautiful than what I could have ever imagined, filled with heartfelt messages from people of different nationalities and cultures.

What you see in this book, along with the photographs of the girls and their stories, are some of the excerpts from the many messages in the traveling books. I wanted the outpouring of care and support from the readers to serve as a possibility of hope to those who suffer from self-injury, as well as to their family and friends.

Kosuke Okahara



In stock

Published in March, 2018
Printed country: Japan
18.5 x 12 cm
380 pages ( 88 pages of photos +272 pages of text)
In Japanese (+ short English explanation)
Published by Kousakusha Publishing

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