富士山 / Gunung Kinabalu

Opening Reception at Espace Kuu, Tokyo

The opening reception of the Two Mountains Photo Project 2.0 took place last evening (6.10.17) at Espace Kuu space, at the Taisho University in Tokyo. The five photographers were first interviewed before an hour long presentation and Q&A session with invited guests, hosted by Naoko Ohta, the main curator of this exhibition.


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The reception was also attended by Azri Mat Yacob, DCM from the Malaysian Embassy of Japan, as well as Malaysian friends, guests, university staff and students.

This collaboration event is creating opportunities for further future projects by forming photo-communities recognising the importance of common values, dialogue, friendship and understanding amongst nations.

The exhibition will run till 24 December, 2017.

Venue :

Espace Kuu, Taisho University Building No,5 Floor 1

170-8470 Toshima-ku, Tokyo Ishi-sugamo 3-20-1


Invitation to Opening – ESPACE KUU


If you are in Tokyo on the 6th October, please come to the Opening Reception of the Two Mountains Photo Project exhibition, or drop by the exhibition from 1 October to 24 December, 2017 – SL

In Tokyo : Two Mountains Project 2.0

Exhibition : 1 October – 24 December, 2017

Venue : ESPACE KUU Gallery, Taisho University, Building No.5 1st Floor, 170-8470 Toshima-ku, Nishi-sugamo 3-20-1, TOKYO

I am happy to announce the following exhibition of the joint Two Mountains Photo Project, which began in May 2014, curated by Naoko Ohta of KLEE Inc, Tokyo. This exhibition is the first part of Phase 2.0, where Malaysian and Japanese photographers travel to their counterpart countries to make photo projects as a cross-cultural initiative.


This exhibition will feature the projects of Mikio Hasui (TM1.0), Chiaki Kano (TM2.0), Mayumi Suzuki (TM2.0), Nana Safiana (TM2.0) and Flanegan Bainon (TM1.0). A formal reception and opening will be held at ESPACE KUU Gallery on Friday 6 October, with the Malaysian photographers also invited to attend. This exhibition has the support of the Malaysian Ambassador to Tokyo and Tourism Sabah.

© Nana Safiana 2017
© Flanegan Bainon
© Flanegan Bainon

About the Two Mountains Photo Project

Two Mountains  is a long term ‘joint friendship’ photography project initiated by the directors of KLPA Events and KLEE, INC PARIS TOKYO, Steven Lee and Naoko Ohta, respectively.

Acknowledging the iconic status of Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, three specially selected photographers from each country will be commissioned to photograph personal photo-stories about these revered peaks.

Focussing on the peoples and communities which live ‘under their shadow’, this cross cultural project hopes to enlighten and discover the legends, folklore and traditions from each mountain.

Beginning May 2014, the project culminated in a public exhibition in August in Kuala Lumpur, and was also presented at the Mt.Rokko Photo Festival in 2015.  The second phase, known as Two Mountains 2.0 allows 6 new photographers, 3 from Malaysia and Japan each, to travel to their counterpart nations to make new photo projects of the iconic mountains.

An exhibition in Malaysia for the final part of Phase 2.0, is currently being planned for 2018.


Nana Safiana : A place in time


TM2.0 Project Update : 

Nana Safiana traveled to Japan in May 2017 and stayed 2 weeks at Kawaguchiko close to the iconic Mount Fuji. Arriving with an open brief and without a firm project in mind, she embedded herself with the local townsfolk in the surrounding area. Staying in hostels and bed and breakfast establishments off the tourist trail, she wandered among the rural backstreets and villages where she encountered little human activity.

During her first week there she photographed what she felt and experienced – abandoned houses and buildings, abandoned cars and trucks, quiet and often ‘eery’ streets which in her own words “were scarier than the Aokigahara forest” renown for it’s location as a suicide spot.


Nevertheless, she felt that a photo-project which depicted her interest in the local areas and contradicted the popular view about Mount Fuji as a touristic and picturesque location must be photographed as a ‘lived’ experience. She trained her lens at the symbols and icons of the famed peak, which is set into the daily lives and semantic memories of the local inhabitants in this region of Japan.

“In reality, it is really hard to see the mountain as it is always cloudy or foggy” and only 3 months in the summer there are more opportunities.


Currently, she is finalising her edits and completing her statement of this significant project. As a visitor to the mountain, her point of view as a photographer would be dependent firstly upon a perceived impression of Fuji-san, and then, from a real ‘on the ground’ experience of her encounters.


She adds “There are periods of clarity, beauty and temporary peace. Yet, we only encounter flaws when we embed ourselves within the place itself… like waking suddenly from a warm, peaceful place to find that you are back in a cold, dark, lonely, empty sort of feeling, which is a place in your mind. It’s like a symphony of a beautiful journey.”

Her selection of images will show the beauty of the place in a humble way.

More later.

– SL


Nana Safiana is a documentary photographer, one of three photographers from Malaysia commissioned to photograph the second phase of the Two Mountains Photo Project 2.0

TM2.0 Kinabalu Recce.

Chiaki Kano, Liwagu Trail, Kinabalu Park
Chiaki Kano, Liwagu Trail, Kinabalu Park
View of Mt Kinabalu

Two of the three commissioned photographers from Japan arrived in Sabah yesterday for a short reconnoitre visit to the Kinabalu park and surround mountain areas. Chiaki Kano and Mayumi Suzuki, accompanied by Naoko Ohta – the team hope to meet with locals and discover potential stories that may be told through the power of the photograph.

The TM2.0 Photo Project is the next phase of the original cross-cultural project set up in 2013 by Steven Lee and Naoko Ohta featuring photo stories of the two iconic national peaks in Japan and Malaysia.

The Japanese photographers are – Mayumi Suzuki, Chiaki Kano & Yukari Chikura

The Malaysian photographers are – Nana Safiana, Nadirah Zakariya & Stacy Liu



The Next Phase


Friendship Art Project between Malaysia & Japan

TOKYO-GA and KL-GA, are delighted to announce the launch of the second phase of the Two Mountains Photography Project (TM2.0)


© Flanegan Bainon - from Two Mountains Photo Project, 2013
Featured image (top) - © Hajime Kimura, 2013

The Two Mountains Photography Project

Malaysia and Japan have built a precious friendship for over many years. In 2013, the Two Mountains Photograph Project was started to deepen this mutual understanding through the power of photography and culture. Centred on the commissioning of 6 documentary and art photographers to present photo-stories of these peaks in their home nations, the project culminated in an exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, and a presentation in Japan and was successfully received.

Today, we are excited to announce the second phase of the Two Mountains Photography Project, starting in 2017, continuing our original vision by recognising cross-cultural processes, via photography.

This second phase will enable selected photographers from each nation to travel to the other country, and make their personal visual stories centred on the respective peaks.

The indigenous people of each nation respect these peaks as cultural icons and spiritual symbols by recognition of their unique status, with long traditions and practices embedded in the national psyche. Through the efforts of research combined with the artists’ personal photographic styles and backgrounds, we hope that the TM2.0 project will enable the realisation of projects with new visions and stories.

We plan to stage exhibitions, lecture programs and cultural exchange events, where we can share thoughts, reflections, inspirations and the unique life around these mountains. We wish this project to function as a panoramic cultural exchange between both nations as never before.

Selected photographers from Japan


Chiaki KANO


Selected photographers from Malaysia


Stacy LIU


A Common Mission

A collaborative effort between Naoko Ohta and Steven Lee in 2013 known as the Two Mountains Photography Project was initiated to establish a working relationship and realization of common goals within the role of photography and it’s function to record and visualize personal projects between the two nations.

This project enabled six selected photographers, three from each country, to research and photograph Mount Fuji and Mount Kinabalu respectively, and this culminated in a public presentation and exhibition of all the works in Kuala Lumpur, and a follow-up presentation at Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival, Kobe, Japan in August 2014.

The common mission of both parties is to utilise photography as a medium for cross cultural understanding, mutual recognition and the revelation of the beauty inherent in traditions, peoples and nature of both countries, as well as defining our commonalities and celebrating the differences.


Mt. Fuji (3,776m) – The highest peak in Japan / Listed as a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 2013

Mt. Kinabalu (4,095.2m) The highest peak in Malaysia and Borneo, 5th highest in South-east Asia / Registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO at 2000

TM2.0 Project Directors

Naoko OHTA, Ms. Founder & Commissioner, TOKYO-GA

Steven LEE, Mr. Founder, KL-GA



Tokyo-Ga at Mois de la Photo, Paris

The Two Mountains Photo Project will be presented as part of TOKYO-GA’s La Librairie Imaginaire exhibition, display and sale of photobooks at Galerie-T in Paris from 13 – 29 November, 2014 during the Mois de la Photo and over the weekend of Paris Photo. The newsletter is attached for information about the event featuring a display of photobooks by 32 selected photographers involved in the Tokyo-Ga project. Those in Paris, please drop by Galerie-T to take a look. ( Click images to zoom in )

01 02 03 04

Two Mountains Photo Project in Paris

The Two Mountains Photo Project will be presented as part of TOKYO-GA’s La Librairie Imaginaire exhibition, display and sale of photobooks at Galerie-T in Paris from 13 – 29 November, 2014 during the Mois de la Photo and over the weekend of Paris Photo.


TOKYO-GA‘s Chief curator Naoko Ohta will be installing an ‘imaginary bookstore’ at Galerie-T in Paris, to display the photobooks of the photographers commissioned to photograph Tokyo-Ga to highlight the ‘sights, colours and rhythm’ of Tokyo to a Parisian crowd during this important photography month. This bookstore will represent a microcosm of Tokyo, within Paris, as photographed by the 100 photographers.

The Two Mountains Photo Project will be presented as part of 5 Programs at the opening reception of La Librairie Imaginaire on the 13th November, 2014 at 6:00 pm to a selected audience of curators and guests, including Anne BIROLEAU LEMAGNY, a general curator from the Contemporary Photography Department of the Bibliotheque Nationale.

Interested parties may also contribute and support the Paris program through opportunities provided by Green Funding here

More information below :

GALERIE T –  29 rue de Trevise 75009 Paris – France


TOKYO-GA 100 Photographers

Facebook Tokyo-Ga

Two Mountains presented at Mt.Rokko

Following the presentation of the Two Mountains Photo Project to the Malaysian audience and a public exhibition in Kuala Lumpur in mid August, another presentation was made at the Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival held from 29 to 31 August, in the hills above Kobe City, Japan by the initiators Naoko Ohta and Steven Lee, together with several of the photographers who contributed to the project.

The presentation was held at the YMCA,  Mt.Rokko on the 29th August, the main venue for the Portfolio Reviews of the Mt.Rokko International Festival and was attended by over 50 people being invited overseas Reviewers, Japanese and foreign photographers. There was a live simultaneous translation broadcast in English and Japanese to enable efficient transmission of speeches to a mix audience.

Naoko Ohta opened the session with an overview, project mission and report from the Kuala Lumpur presentation. Steven Lee explain about the inception of the project earlier this year.

Photographers Hajime Kimura, Junpei Kato, Mikio Hasui was accompanied by Nadia Jasmine Mahfix (who was selected to attend the Portfolio Reviews of the photo festival) and all made brief speeches about their photo projects. Yosuke Fujiki, curator from Tokyo-Ga was also present to talk about curation and future plans.

A 10 minute video was screened, displaying all six photo projects as slideshows and multimedia presentations, after which there was a short Q&A session. mtrokko.header

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_R003834 mtrokko2014-21 mtrokko2014-20 mtrokko2014-19 10632859_10152171657406572_1637355702572154993_n mtrokko2014-18 mtrokko2014-17 10628387_960332900659335_9021584156210312278_n 7368_10152171649911572_4496771716557101553_n 10580230_10152171653601572_5537667600886200052_n 10394776_960332763992682_6061551619025017947_n _R003841
L- R Yosuke Fujiki, Nadia J Mahfix, Naoko Ohta, Junpei Kato, Mikio Hasui, Hajime Kimura and Steven Lee
Photos by Takeki Sugiyama & Nadia J Mahfix

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