I lived in Japan for three years, and during that time, my roots reached deep into the community and my heartstrings far across the landscape. Even now, every time I return to Japan, it feels like coming home. My friends greet me, the sights and sounds wash over me, and I slip into the daily rhythms of life there, different yet familiar and comfortable.

It has made me curious. What if I choose life in Japan–permanently? In a country where non-native residents account for less than 2% of the population, what kind of support would I receive? What kind of home would Japan be?

As a second generation Asian American, I have witnessed my parents’ struggles in a new homeland and experienced the challenges of growing up at the intersection of different cultures. Even so, growing up in the United States whose history reads as a story of immigration and diversity, I have taken much for granted. The United States has long been seen as a haven and land of opportunity for many immigrants. Japan, however, has rarely embraced newcomers completely into the heart of society.

Unless Japan intends to close its doors to all foreigners, this orientation should be re-evaluated. Non-native residents contribute to Japanese society and deserve more consideration as equal members of this society. In this regard, a deeper understanding of the non-native community and increased interaction between non-native residents and local Japanese are essential to productive discourse.

I saw this as an opportunity to apply my love of book art and community outreach to highlight an issue near to my heart. This innovative approach became the seed that blossomed into Bound in Japan.

This project is dedicated to all the people of Japan, Japanese and non-native residents alike, as well as the people who like myself, whether we acutally live there or not, consider it home.







THE ARTIST   アーティスト[日本語]

Thien-Kieu Lam was born in Louisiana and currently resides in the Washington, DC area. Before Washington, DC, Kieu lived in Kagoshima, Japan, for three years as a participant of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Besides teaching English, she also worked with a senior high school art club and shared her love of art and book arts with the local community.

Kieu is actively involved with Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a coordinator for the 2010 11th Biennial Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair and Conference. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she studied photography and book arts. Kieu speaks Japanese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.



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