Since I unexpectedly met Steven Lee at Rokko International Photo Festival the last November, we have been discussing about some collaboration to develop the mutual understanding between Malaysia and Japan. The project “Two Mountains” was born by our constant mail-communication. In these times of political and economical unrest, I also feel that cultural exchange is one of the best means to obtain respect and harmony between the nations of the world.

Two Mountains project is not only simply to show the works of 6 photographers representing both countries, but is also designed to reveal the heart of culture, nature, beauty of both countries through the exhibition, conference and the artist’s talk. I believe that the first exhibition in Kuala Lumpur will not only permit a better cultural understanding of Malaysia and Japan but will remind all of us of the essential power in photography.

I would like to know and appreciate your beautiful country through this project.

If you allow me, let me give you the basic information about the two mountains.

Mount Kinabalu (Malay : Gunung Kinabalu) is a prominent mountain on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia at 4,095m (13,435 ft). It is located in the East Malaysian state of Sabah and is protected as Kinabalu Park, a World Heritage Site. Kinabalu is the highest peak in Borneo’s Crocker Range and is the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago. Mount Kinabalu is also the 20th most prominent mountain in the world by topographic prominence.

Mount Kinabalu includes the Kinabalu mountain alpine meadows eco-region in the montane grasslands and shrublands biome. The mountain and its surroundings are among the most important biological sites in the world, with between 5,000 and 6,000 species of plants, 326 species of birds, and more than 100 mammalian species identified. Among this rich collection of wildlife are famous species such as the gigantic Rafflesia plants and the orangutan. Mount Kinabalu has been accorded UNESCO World Heritage status.

 Mount Fuji, located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” along with Mount Tate (Tateyama) and Mount Haku (Hakesan); it is a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a Historic Site, and was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22nd, 2013.

The mountain has been selected as a “cultural” rather than a “natural” heritage site. As per UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”. The 25 locations include the mountain itself, Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha and six other Sengen shrines, two lodging houses, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Kawaguchi, the eight Oshino Hakkai hot springs, two lava tree molds, the remains of the Fuji-kō cult in the Hitoana cave, Shiraito Falls, and Miho no Matsubara pine tree grove.

I do wish you to enjoy and learn something precious from the works of 6 distinguished photographers.


Naoko OHTA


August 4, 2014