Climbing the stairs of Ishinomaki’s first department store, built in 1930, I can hear the sound of a man singing and the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar. The voice is not one of a professional crooner; it’s raspy and unsure, and sounds like an amateur retelling a tale of sorrow without too much regard for being melodious or soothing. Arriving at the second floor, I can see hundreds of rice bowls filled with water and arranged into circles. A picture of an eye floats in each one.

In the course of telling the audience about himself and his work, the performer says, “I’m a shaman; I don’t want to be an artist, I want to be nothing” as well as “the most important thing to being human is heart.”

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