Category Archives: Gallery

Japan Exposure galleries for an extended sample of a single photographer’s work

Shinji Abe Gallery

Japan Exposures is pleased to present the work of Shinji Abe, who at 26 is one of the youngest — if not the youngest — photographers we’ve featured. It may come as something of a surprise to readers of this website, but Abe is one of a rather sizable group of young photographers who not only embrace film, the darkroom, and the vagaries of the street as their subject, but who also don’t have an online presence. In Abe’s case, he doesn’t even have a personal computer. Whether by design or happenstance, this makes Abe the ideal type of photographer we hope to feature even more on Japan Exposures as we begin 2010 — young, up and coming, and to borrow a phrase coined by noted street photographer Nick Turpin, “virtually invisible”.

When offline is becoming the new online, then the street is the new stage where the workings of at least some of Japan’s society are laid bare to be examined by a sharp and scrutinising eye such as Abe’s. Similar to photographers like Haruto Hoshi (featured previously on Japan Exposures), Abe bids a final farewell to the quaint snap of the old masters like Ihei Kimura and meets contemporary Tokyo in the streets of central Tokyo head on. These are not street photos showing amusing juxtapositions featuring people going about their daily lives. Abe’s photos have a delightful unnerving intensity and unrest, full of energy and vibrancy of life, yet despite their visual power they never appear confrontational or provocative for the sake of it. The images are a revelation of how much street photography in the civilised Japanese metropolis still has to offer. Radical, essential and absolutely inspirational.

Please also see our Cover Photo featuring Abe’s work.

UPDATE: a slide show with more photos from the exhibition is available on the Third District Gallery web site. [Click on the top postcard image; thanks to Aya Takada]

Tomoyuki Sakaguchi Gallery

Introduced by Silas Dominey for Japan Exposures.

I first saw Tomoyuki Sakaguchi‘s images of suburban Tokyo when I was in my third year of a photography BA and something of a transparency film snob. Everything had to be film, and the only purpose of digital was quick and dirty snapshots. Sakaguchi’s work was the catalyst that suddenly pointed out that fine art photography is not strictly the reserve of film. The appeal of Sakaguchi’s series Home is, for me, how effectively it marries the ‘look’ of digital photography to the content of the series. The strange quality of light and the unnatural saturation and tonality of the greenery have a uniquely digital aesthetic.

This glossy plasticity is at odds with an American photographer whose work provides an interesting counterpoint. Todd Hido’s large format series Homes at Night embodies everything Sakaguchi’s work eschews. Where Homes at Night is dark, subdued and atmospheric, Home is vibrant and saturated. Hido’s images are stuck in the past, whereas Sakaguchi’s are unashamedly modern. We need only look at the cars in Sakaguchi’s images to confirm this. They are brightly coloured, compact, utilitarian. They are also, in a very real sense, the main characters in this odd little nocturnal drama. They occupy each image with surprising presence and vitality, providing a link to the sleeping residents of each home.

[In addition to Silas’ selection of images from Sakaguchi’s Home, we’re also pleased to present a small gallery of work from Sakaguchi from his earliest series “Mado” (2002) and his most recent work, “Ita☆Sha” (2009). — ed.]

Please also see our current Cover Photo by Sakaguchi.

Sakaguchi’s book Home is available in the Japan Exposures bookstore.

Silas DomineySilas Dominey recently graduated from Leeds College of Art’s BA Photography Programme and currently works as a freelance photo assistant. His work can be seen at

Manabu Yamanaka Gallery

Manabu Yamanaka’s Gyahtei, published earlier this Fall, brings together Yamanaka’s six major series focusing on societal outcasts, including street children, homeless, the physically deformed, and the elderly. Working in a similar vein for over 25 years, each series might take up to four to five years to complete. Yamanaka doesn’t just bring his subjects into a studio but chooses to immerse himself in the milieu of his subjects and their living conditions before ever setting up his camera.

Yamanaka’s working methods, as well as the consistency of purpose and style he approaches his subjects with, clearly show that he doesn’t take his project lightly, nor is he interested in a quick hit of shock. In a 2005 interview, Yamanaka talked about his working process:

First of all, I decide on a subject for a project and then study and research the subject. And the next step is planning out picture composition [while] at the same time scouting, casting, and thinking about the other details. Finally, I start the new project if I convince myself that all of the above is in place. Usually it is not so easy, so I’m constantly making changes. I always find the appropriate way of shooting after I start. I believe that there is always a way through a difficult project.

The title Gyahtei as well as other series’ titles all originate from Buddhism. Even though Yamanaka has said he is not a practicing Buddhist, he does “always hope that I gain more understanding of Buddhism every time I finish a project. In other words, I show my work as a consequence of my understanding on the theme of the project.”

Manabu Yamanaka’s photographs are often referred to as disturbing, or unnerving, but perhaps that faint praise says more about the viewer than it comments on the actual work, the subjects of the photos, or the photographer’s intentions. In the way that some people peek through their fingers at horror films, labeling Yamanaka’s work as disturbing seems a defense mechanism, a way of distancing oneself from the visceral realization that what separates the viewers’ reality from that of Yamanaka’s subjects is what the Japanese call 紙一重 (kami hitoe) — a fine line. That Yamanaka can bring us so uncomfortably close to confronting that which we take for granted, and our corporeality and mortality, in the reserved and respectful manner that he does, might be one reason why the photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki called Yamanaka the most “hardcore” of all Japanese photographers working today.

Japan Exposures is honored to have the opportunity to present to our readers the following introduction to Manabu Yamanaka’s work. Please also see our current Cover Photo featuring Yamanaka.

More of Yamanaka’s work can be seen at his website, including some brief writings about each series. A report on him in Japanese can be found here.

Gyahtei is available from the Japan Exposures Bookstore.

Yasuhiro Ogawa Gallery

Japan Exposures is pleased to present the work of Yasuhiro Ogawa, who this year received along with Shintaro Sato the prestigious Newcomer’s Award from the Photographic Society of Japan. Ogawa was born in Kanagawa in 1968 and, influenced by the work of Sebastiao Salgado, took up photography when he was 24. His book, Slowly Down the River, was published by Creo in 2008. [Please see our review]. The gallery below of black and white work was selected by Ogawa himself. Ogawa’s website features ample examples of his work from many different series and projects.

Please also see our Cover Photo featuring Ogawa’s work.

Haruto Hoshi Gallery

Japan Exposures is pleased to present the work of Haruto Hoshi, born 1970 in Kanagawa and educated at Contemporary Photography Research Institute. Hoshi’s intense and at times uncomfortable images show life in the large Japanese cities in a captivating and arresting style. He represented by the Third District Gallery Tokyo.

We are also featuring Hoshi as one of our Cover Artists.

Hoshi’s photo book Luminance of Streets is available in the Japan Exposures bookstore.

Masahiro Kodaira Gallery

Japan Exposures is pleased to present the work of Masahiro Kodaira, born and raised in Tokyo and educated at Tokyo Zokei University. Kodaira was an informal student of famed avant-garde photographer Kiyoji Otsuji, and Otsuji’s influence is clear to see in the following images. Presented here are five images each from Kodaira’s two major projects to date, “Dr. Lorentz’s Butterfly” and “Onbashira”. Please see our interview with Kodaira where he discusses his motivations behind both series, his relationship with Otsuji, and more. We are also featuring Kodaira as one of our Cover Artists.

Sachiko Kadoi Gallery

Japan Exposures is pleased to offer an extended view of the photography of Sachiko Kadoi, who was born and raised in Tokyo. Her sensitive photos of the contemporary Japanese landscape evidence a contemplative, mature eye that belies the fact that she has only been actively pursuing photography since 2003.

The gallery below is comprised of photos from Kadoi’s first book, Kadoi Sachiko: Photographs 2003-2008, published last Fall by Sokyusha.

Kadoi is interested in those places and scenes that reveal man’s existence even when there is seemingly no one present. As Kadoi herself has written, “Everywhere I go, I can always find evidence of human life. In uninhabited landscapes I see human beings.”

An interview was conducted with Sachiko Kadoi during the last week of December, 2008 and can be read here.