Matagi are traditional hunters living in small villages and settlements in the highlands of northern Honshu, Japan’s main island. Since its origins, back in the mid-XVI century, they have made a living selling meat, skins and other products derived from hunting. Their main prey is the Japanese black bear, a subspecies listed as vulnerable according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
However, these communities never approach hunting as a recreational or sporting activity. For the Matagi, Nature is a conscious presence, personified in the Goddess of the Mountain (Yama-no-Kami); a deity who is envious of other women and thus has forbidden them from entering her domains for over five centuries. Nevertheless, the need to preserve Matagi's cultural legacy has prevailed over their religious convictions. Due to the lack of interest by young men for this lifestyle, the first cases of Matagi women –accepted and trained as hunters– have recently emerged. Women who -as is now the case worldwide and at all levels of society- are demanding a position of equality in all fields.
This object synthesizes the full history of the Matagi community. The format chosen for this publication is the leporello, and our readers will find two covers and three different ways of reading it:
When unfolding accordion book in the western reading direction, narrative based solely on images is revealed. If we choose to start from that same cover but to the left, the original Matagi legend appears. The second cover introduces a historical fictional text about the evolution of these traditional hunters in Japan, using the memories of the mountain goddess, Yama-no-Kami as the guiding thread.
Photographer & Designer: Javier Corso
Text: Alex Rodal & Javier Corso
Ilustrations: Hiroko Ebihara
Year of publication: 2021
Pages: 82 pag.
Sizes: 21 x 16 cm
Paper: Biotop 200 gsm.
Film language: Japanese
Country of filming: Japan
Film color: Color
Produced: OAK stories with the support of National Geographic