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‘Rising sun’ dawns on USF

The University keeps finding ways to put itself on the map — and this time it’s reaching across the Pacific. USF’s Department of International Affairs and the College of Business are the first American hosts to photo panels of Japan’s World Heritage sites.

Thirty-one of the 61 panels were transported from the Japan Foundation of New York. The purchased photography collection, titled World Heritage Sites in Japan, had already been promoted in Asia and Europe.

“It’s an honor to be able to host the panels for the first time in the United States,” said Amanda Gilmer, communication and marketing officer of International Affairs. “I know that there is a long list of people after us who have been wanting the panels, so we’re really excited.”

The idea to present the international exhibit at the University came from Mitsuo Ogishima, coordinator of USF’s Japan Outreach Initiative. His aim is to promote the understanding of Japanese culture and language in the USF community.

“It took about half a year to hold this exhibit after finding the sponsor,” Ogishima said (translated from Japanese). “I repeatedly made a request to the Japan Foundation that I wanted to show the beautiful photos in Tampa, where they have relatively much less opportunity to communicate with Japanese culture compared to other cities.”

He said the exhibit’s purpose is not just to showcase the wondrous beauty of Japan’s nature and cultural heritage sites, but to remind people how important it is to preserve such legacies for future generations.

“We in Japan have 14 World Heritage sites and are proud of all of our unique culture and national treasures, but especially these treasures which we share with the entire world,” Ogishima said.

The World Heritage Convention was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1972. It helps to preserve 878 properties of “outstanding universal value” in 145 nations, according to its Web site, America has 20 World Heritage sites —  including Florida’s Everglades National Park.

“Some of the World Heritage sites are in critical condition,” Ogishima said. “We have a responsibility to protect them because our ancestors kept conserving them over generations.”

The World Heritage photo exhibit includes works by Kazuyoshi Miyoshi, a world-famous Japanese photographer.

“Anywhere you look in Japan, one can see that it has a lot of beautiful places — such as the mosses growing in the deepest parts of the Yakushima Island, the forest speared by the shining light and the silhouette of the temple in front of the sunset,” Miyoshi said (translated from Japanese).

At 27, Miyoshi is the youngest recipient of the Kimura Ihei Award, a Japanese award that recognizes the achievements of new photographers. He said his passion for capturing images of paradise began on a trip to Okinawa when he was 13 years old.

Since then, he has done work in Tahiti, the Maldives, the Sahara, the Himalayas and Antarctica. Some of his photographs are in the permanent collection of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film in New York.

“If you want to see (Miyoshi’s) works in different places, you have to pay about $10 — but you don’t have to pay here,” Ogishima said.

Approximately 120 people attended the opening ceremony Feb. 6 at the College of Business Atrium.

“This is a very good event and it was a nice to see the Japanese community at Tampa come together,” said August Garnsey, a senior majoring in business management. “It was great to see such a collection of artwork of Japan.”

The exhibit will be on display at the College of Business Atrium until Feb. 19 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.