Being Japanese in Delhi

Being Japanese in Delhi

Japanese painter Yuriko Lochan has been living in Delhi for about 25 years but feels that getting accustomed to another country and culture is ‘almost impossible’.

Yuriko is a painter born in Osaka, Japan and came to India after marrying Rajeev Lochan, Director, National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). During her initial days in India, she tried to look for things which are common in both the countries.

“I tried hard to adjust and to look for things which are common in both the countries. I found them in human nature. It is not easy to adjust but I did it. To get accustomed totally to the other culture’s food habit is almost impossible, at least for me. Only adjustment is the answer,” shares Yuriko, when asked how difficult it was to adjust in a country, extremely different from Japan.

“Things here were very different from Japan 25 years ago and now as well. In the practical terms the difference was in people’s habit, ‘bijli/pani,’ public hygiene etc. It still makes me feel restless,” she adds. The painter feels that being an artist, she has a ‘secret path’ to tread away from reality. “I am an artist. That way I could stay in touch with my own world. I tried to look into the truth which prevails and I believe that realisation becomes a source of expression,” she says.

She agrees that her artwork and style have evolved over years. After coming to India, at an unknown art scene and between unknown art practices, she tried to live simply as an artist, not as a Japanese or Indian.

“I tried to start my art practice absolutely from ‘plain paper’. It was not because I shifted to India but because I moved out from my own place. But India has definitely had a strong influence on my work since I started looking into it and that realisation reflected in my works,” says Yuriko, who organised her first solo show in India in 1996.

The commonalities that she sees in Indians and Japanese is that both hold pride in their own identities. “We, Indians and Japanese both hold pride in our own doing and being. The cultural foundation holds a strong influence on peoples’ life in India as well as Japan.”

What she misses most about her native country is food and weather. Ask if she relishes India cuisines, her reply is, “Of course I relish Indian food greatly. ‘Relish’ is a state of mind.”

Talking about the City, Yuriko says, “Delhi has become extremely large and now the City has no control over anything. As the city grow larger and larger, the problems (in terms of management) has been piling up and it is more and more difficult to tackle with each issue.”  

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