We’ve just got in copies of Daido Moriyama’s brand new book, Northern, featuring work Moriyama shot in Hokkaido during a three-month trip in 1978. This work was first brought to a wider audience last year with an exhibition at Tokyo’s Rathole Gallery — accompanied by a massive $200-plus tome Hokkaido which featured over 600 photos — as well as several exhibitions of the material in Hokkaido itself.
The current book weighs in at a mere 200 or so pages, with “only” 176 photos, but while it may not be as comprehensive as the book of last year, it is still quite a beauty and has instantly propelled itself to the top of my favorite Moriyama books. (Takuno 1987, now hard to find, tops this list, if you’re curious). Outside of photographs that accompany an interview with Moriyama at the beginning of the book, as well as those few that accompany some essays at the back of the book, the vast majority of photographs have been printed full-bleed, one to a page. Given that this is an A4-sized book (8.5 x 11.5 inches roughly, for those in the US), it makes for a sumptous offering. (And truth be told, the paper is of a thicker and nicer quality than the Rathole book).
Every Moriyama outing is full of grain and tilted camera angles and stray animals, and there is plenty of that to go around here. But somehow these Hokkaido photographs come dripping with even more texture and pathos. Falling snow looks more like little pinholes in a distressed 35mm film negative, and the more open-space quality of Hokkaido, as opposed to the normal Tokyo stomping grounds of Moriyama, effuses much of the work with a reflective loneliness.
In addition to the book, there is a 58-minute DVD of an interview with Moriyama on the soundtrack while a slideshow of the Hokkaido work plays. Essentially the interview is the same as that which appears in the book (both in Japanese only), but many of the photos included in the slideshow do not appear in the current volume, creating a real value add.
Northern is for sale in the Japan Exposures bookshop.