Nine years ago, the grandmother of Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara found a kitten in her shed. She named it Fukumaru, after the god of good fortune.
This afternoon, photographs of her and the cat, who both have hearing disabilities, will entertain scores of children at the Angkor Photo Festival Children’s Day in Siem Reap: a “celebration of the better things in life”.
The festivities begin at Siem Reap’s Wat Athvea Pagoda at 5pm with a “funny, quirky” slide show curated by program co-ordinator Françoise Callier.
This will be followed by a presentation of the results of the Anjali House kids’ photo workshops, and special performances and activities.
“We always wanted to have it at a pagoda, because it’s a magical atmosphere and the kids seem to really love being there,” Jessica Lim, the event’s Asia co-ordinator, says. “It’s a very familiar place to them.”
Lim adds that even though it is a “children’s day”, everyone is welcome and the adults enjoy it as much as any other part of the festival.
“People think it’s a children’s thing, but it’s not really because I haven’t met a single adult who didn’t enjoy Children’s Day.
The slide shows are specially curated to be children-friendly, so you get really funny, quirky things... it’s just happy, happy, happy and a celebration of the better things in life.”
One such example is the work of Ihara, a Japanese photographer who snapped pictures of her grandmother with her beloved white cat.
The images are heartwarming; in one, the pair sit in a sunflower field, the cat perched on its owner’s shoulder, staring off-camera with its one blue, one orange eye.
“It’s nice to have this in the middle of the week, just to remind everyone that in spite of everything we’ve been seeing that may not exactly be very positive, there are happy things in life.
“After that, we’re showing the results of the Anjali Photo Workshops — that’s always a highlight for the kids, because a lot of cheering goes on when their picture comes up.
“It’s a nice moment for them because they work so hard and they really want to share, to show off a bit maybe.”
The 50 children taking part in the workshop are aged between four and 15. Lim says she welcomes the opportunity to see the world from a child’s eye view, a new perspective.
“They photograph things we would never see, it’s really refreshing and, as someone living in Siem Reap, I want to see what I’m missing.”
There will also be an “art exchange” where the festival will exhibit photographs by 10 children from a workshop at the Koyasan Elementary School in Japan.