This set of photographs was created in collaboration with the terrific 14-year-old Japanese boy who was our house guest this month. He came to us for an informal home stay arranged by his uncle, my wife’s former coworker who lives in San Francisco. Having a person from a different culture in the house prompted the kind of renewed awareness of ourselves that we could have predicted: we saw that our floors aren’t too pretty, and we thought about how much sugar there is in the American diet, for instance. But for me the biggest surprise was probably that this Japanese boy, by sheer coincidence, shares my deep interest in the ships of the Pacific War. He could easily identify the Japanese ships in my collection of 1/700 models, and when we visited the USS Hornet Museum I was astonished by the breadth of his familiarity with history. I was unaccustomed to being with anyone who knows as much — if not more — than I do about WW2 ships.
Narui was impressed by my collection of ships and photographs and wanted to know how I created the dioramas, so we set one up together. He picked out the ships and arranged them on the surface. I showed him how I use baking soda to make wakes for these temporary displays. These are the results. Narui preferred the black-and-white versions, so I offer those first. When we put the materials away I gave him the paper “water surface” I use, as well as the sky-poster backdrop we had used, to take home to Japan so he could make his own!