Tag Archives: hiroh kikai

Leap Year Sale in Bookstore

Six books on sale for February 2012 The following titles are on sale for February:

Anatolia, by Hiroh Kikai ¥9,490 ¥8,490
Published in January, 2011, this book from Asakusa Portraits-famed Hiroh Kikai is the first ever substantial presentation of his considerable body of work from Turkey. It depicts Anatolia, but also points west and east, and was created during six visits (totaling 45 weeks) that Kikai made from 1994 through 2009. See this review at Microcord for more about the book.

Hana Dorobou, by Eikoh Hosoe ¥2,990 ¥2,490
Undergarment designer Yoko Kamoi (1925-1991) presented to Hosoe a series of her handmade dolls and told him, “Do with them what you want.” For Hosoe, they were more human than doll, and they seemed to take a life of their own, the scenes he eventually photographed them in seemingly situtations these dolls were getting themselves into — or so Hosoe felt, so strong was their human-like nature.

Hana Kinbaku, by Nobuyoshi Araki, ¥7,990 ¥5,990
Published in conjunction with his exhibition at Taka Ishii Gallery (Tokyo) in 2008, this 150-plus full color catalogue brings together two of Araki’s well-known obsessions, flowers and bondage scenes.

Kazuo Kitai in China, 1973, by Kazuo Kitai, ¥2,590 ¥1,990
Kitai, who was born in Anshan, Manchuria in 1944, returned to China in 1973 at the behest of the noted Japanese photographer Ihei Kimura, who assembled a group of photographers to travel the country for two weeks with him. The photos that Kitai took on this trip, which he intended to publish as a book but never did, are now collected in this special publication from Tokyo gallery Zen Foto Gallery.

Lime Works, by Naoya Hatakeyama, ¥4,290 ¥3,590
A much-needed reprint of Hatakeyama’s seminal 1996 Lime Works.

Cell, by Taiji Matsue, ¥4,990 ¥4,490
This book from 2008 by Taiji Matsue features tiny pieces (or “cells” if you will) of larger photos blown up many times over, rendering each photo both abstract and concrete at the same time.

Hideo Takiura’s Tokyo Products

Due in part to the heat, and in part from being extremely busy of late, I haven’t been able to take in as many photo exhibitions as I would like. However, when I received a postcard advertising Hideo Takiura’s latest show, “Tokyo Products”, I knew that this was one show I would make a special effort for. And I’m glad I did.

The show, currently at the Konica Minolta gallery in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward until August 10th, features work shot by him over a 10 year period. You may remember that back in April Japan Exposures featured work from Takiura entitled “Tokyo Bodies”. Both that series, and the work currently on show, were shot at the same time. However, when he began to shape the work into a series and ultimately his first photo book (also Tokyo Bodies), he focused on the “street photography” aspect where random strangers formed the central subject. However, for this show and a new photo book, Tokyo Products, there are no people present in any of the shots.

I say that there are no people, and on the surface that is very much true, but in reality, the people are everywhere — their presence is unmistakeable. This presence manifests itself in two ways: on the one hand, what often attracts Takiura’s eyes are shapes and scenes that bear a human-like quality (for example, a rubber glove stuck on the end of a pipe on the side of a building conjures up with nary a leap a human arm and hand); and on the other hand, Takiura is constantly providing us with scenes literally man-made, as if he had snapped the scene just after a set designer had finished setting it up (for example, an old washing machine that has now become an impromptu plant holder, or a shot of a door with two wires inexplicably snaking out from the door’s mail slot).

Like most photographers exhibiting their work there was a statement on the wall that Takiura wrote. To be quite honest, I rarely read these, whether they are in English or in Japanese. But this one was so short I was intrigued. Beyond what it said — something to the effect of “when I walk around I often notice that the landscapes and scenes I pass resemble something human, or on the other hand, perhaps they don’t” — what I thought was significant was that this statement was placed in such a way that it could have easily been missed, and in fact I didn’t see it until I had seen the entire show. Not surprisingly, Takiura confirmed to me later that he would rather not write anything and let the photos speak for themselves, but in the end bowed to a feeling that visitors might feel empty without some explanatory text, however oblique (and obliquely displayed) it might be.

Hideo Takiura

I felt fortunate to meet Takiura at the gallery. Previously we had corresponded via e-mail regarding selling his book and featuring his work on Japan Exposures, and it was clear from those interactions that he is very serious not just about the work itself but how that work is positioned, talked about, and put into context. Part of those email discussions revolved around the fact that Takiura would prefer that the work be judged on its own merits, rather than in comparison to other photographers. So, it was with some trepidation that I suggested to him — in response to his genuine query as to whether overseas photography viewers would understand work that didn’t feature any people in it — that his photographs in this current series reminded me of Hiroh Kikai’s two “Tokyo labyrinth” books (here and here). That is to say, beyond the superficial square format that both works share, there is a humor and irony in what both choose to capture, and that to my mind at least these “still lifes” of Takiura’s interact and resonate with his street photography in much the same way that I find Kikai’s people-less Tokyo cityscapes bounce off and inform (or are informed by) his better known “Asakusa Portraits” work. (For his part, Takiura was non-committal to this comparison, as I expected he would be.)

In person I found Takiura to be humble and soft-spoken yet with very clear, well-considered opinions that he no doubt had formed over a long period of taking pictures and thinking about photography. But by the same token, he was very keen to get my opinion on the photographs or on particular aspects of the exhibition. One thing that is very apparent from listening to Takiura is that this — taking photos, and publishing these books — is very much a labor of love. By that I don’t just mean that he doesn’t make money from these endeavors — although clearly he doesn’t — but that rather money or recognition doesn’t seem to interest him in the slightest. He wants to takes pictures, as time and the mundane business of making a living (from photography, but not his own) allow, and he wants to show them to people, both in shows like the current one (although I get the impression these exhibits are fairly “one-off”) and more importantly, in the two books he has so far self-published.

Hideo Takiura - Tokyo Bodies and Tokyo Products Photo BooksIn early June, Takiura’s Tokyo Bodies photo book was featured as one of 60 self-published photobooks at the “Self Publish, Be Happy” 2-day event held at the Photographer’s Gallery in London and organized by Bruno Ceschel. Takiura was candid with me that he could very easily pay one of the handful of small photography publishing houses a tidy sum to publish his work under their imprint (in Japan, the prevailing model is artists pay publishers to publish a book of their work, not the other way around), but has chosen not to. Aside from being cheaper to do it himself, there is the much more important aspect of control — Takiura is a control freak in the best possible sense of the phrase, and for him not only the editing but also the design, and the look and feel of the book, are especially paramount. No surprise then that the new work Tokyo Products is again of the same, considered design as Tokyo Bodies, with Takiura even going so far as to design a slipcase that will house both of them.

Before taking my leave, Takiura pulled out his camera, the one he used to take all these Tokyo “portraits”, the only camera he uses for his personal work — a pre-war Rolleiflex with Tessar lens (sorry, didn’t get the specific model, but this is one of the early Rolleiflexes with the “Rolleiflex” on the nameplate in an old semi-cursive font, not the later boxier font). While it’s true that these tools should hardly make a difference, I can’t deny that seeing this 75-plus year old camera, so obviously lovingly looked after, and seeing the excellent work on the walls that it had a small hand in producing, and meeting the humble but assured Takiura, who had of course the biggest hand in all this, heartened me to no end as I went back out into Tokyo’s sticky summer heat.

Both Tokyo Bodies and Tokyo Products are available in the Japan Exposures bookstore.

Books Exotica — Seventeen by George Hashiguchi

Seventeen, by George Hashiguchi -- Book CoverGeorge Hashiguchi is we suspect not a household name for our overseas readers. But to our mind, even though he’ll never get the love that someone like Hiroh Kikai enjoys, he’s one of the finest portrait photographers in Japan — a modern August Sander of Japan, if we may be so bold.

Seventeen (17æ­³), by George Hashiguchi
Pub. by Kadokawa Shoten, 1998
ISBN: 404851122X
Original Cost: ¥2,800
Japan Exposures Price: ¥1,490 SOLD

George Hashiguchi’s portrait collections are so ubiquitous to the point where you may actually be inclined to think he was a hack, churning out book after book like he was a professional cat photographer. It must be said that Hashiguchi hasn’t necessarily helped himself in this regard, since most of his portrait projects — senior citizens, couples, fathers, workers, and 17-year olds like we have here — all follow roughly the same formula: a very specific group of people, full body portraits in black and white, an accompanying page of text featuring the same type of questionairre presentation (eg. the subject’s favorite music, what they ate for breakfast, how much their monthly allowance is) along with a paragraph or two of commentary from each subject. However, like more famous typologists, this standardization goes a long way toward highlighting the individual idiosyncracies of the subjects and countering what could be mistaken for homogeneity.

Seventeen, by George Hashiguchi -- Sample Page Spread 1

Portraits done across Japan of 17-year olds, this is a republished version of Hashiguchi’s “Seventeen’s Map” which was published in 1988 (cue obligatory Parr/Badger reference — Volume 2, p. 300), with all the same portraits and text but different sequencing. Hashiguchi traveled throughout Japan with the very specific intention of taking portraits of people who were 17 years old at the time of shooting. According to Hashiguchi, he didn’t care who his models were, as long as they were 17. He also included in the book every single person he photographed, choosing not to edit out any of the subjects.

Hashiguchi (writing 20 years later) says, “These 17 year olds were all reall very different. These were ordinary high school students, and students whose hearts were engaged in activities outside school. There were 17-year olds who were already working, and those who were devoting themselves to art. All sharing this space of “Japan today,” all breathing the same air, these 17-year olds were yet so different, thinking such various thoughts.”

No problems at all, some minor sunning of dust cover and page edges is about all one can say bad about this copy. A good, used copy.

Well, the original 1988 publication can go anywhere from $200 to $750 depending on condition and whether it’s signed or not, no doubt because it was included in you-know-what.

Seventeen, by George Hashiguchi -- Sample Page Spread 2

Goes well with…
If you’re intrigued by this book, you might be interested in the other Hashiguchi books we have in the bookstore, including a completely new book on 17-year olds, 17: 2001-2006, which has the added benefit of accompanying English text.

If you’re interested in obtaining a reasonably-priced copy of the original 1988 “Seventeen’s Map”, please get in touch and we’ll see what we can do for you.

Hardcover. 22cm x 15cm. 1st edition, 1st printing (1998 version). 200 pages, approx. 95 b/w photos. Available here SOLD.

2008 Nikon Salon Awards

In November, Nikon Salon announced that Kenshichi Heshiki* and Yasushi Nishimura were the 2008 winners of their annual Ina Nobuo and Miki Jun prizes, respectively.

The gallery, which since opening in 1968 has been instrumental in furthering the career of many a famous Japanese photographer, established the Ina Nobuo Award in 1976. The winner is chosen from amongst all the exhibitions held at the gallery in a given calendar year (October – September). The award is named for photography critic Nobuo Ina (1898-1978), the famed photography critic who headed Nikon Salon for its first 10 years of existence. Past winners have included Masahisa Fukase, Hiromi Tsuchida, and Hiroh Kikai (a full list of winners is at the bottom of this page). The winner receives a cash prize (this year, ¥1,000,000) as well as Nikon camera equipment.

This year’s 33rd annual Ina Nobuo Award winner Heshiki is a 60-year old photographer born in Nakijin, a village on Okinawa Island. His exhibition entitled 山羊の肺 沖縄1968-2005å¹´ (Lungs of a Goat — Okinawa 1968-2005) — which was held at the Nikon Salon in Ginza in May of this year — brought together roughly 90 images showcasing nearly 40 years of work focused on the everyday lives of Okinawa’s citizens.

The Miki Jun Award was established in 1998 in commemoration of the gallery’s 30th anniversary, and is given to a photographer under 35 years old and is chosen from among artists exhibited at Nikon Salon’s Juna21 gallery space. The prize is named after the photo journalist Jun Miki (1919-1992), one-time pupil of Ken Domon who worked for Life Magazine and other photo news magazines after the war, and was later president of the Nikkor Club. Renowned first and foremost for his photo reportage, Miki also played an accidental but important role in establishing the worldwide reputation of Nikkor lenses.

This year’s winner was Yasushi Nishimura for his exhibition entitled 彼女のタイトル (Her Title), a depiction of a young and troubled young woman’s life over a year and a half period. The 26 year old Nishimura is a member of the Photographer’s Gallery collective.

Since 2003, as part of the Miki Jun Award, Nikon Salon also gives out two “Inspiration Awards”. This year’s winners were 23-year old Hatsumi Matsushita for her series of amusing self-portraits, and Kaori Inbe, a 28-year old Tokyo-based photographer, for her ironically entitled exhibition “Moral Society”. You can view online galleries of the three Miki Jun winners at Nikon’s “Independents” site. (Click on the second “Enter” button on that page. The prize winners are galleries #28 (Nishimura), #31 (Matsushita), and #27 (Inbe). For some reason, the site only works with Internet Explorer for me).

Nikon Salon will re-mount each of the five winning exhibitions in December and January at their Shinjuku and Osaka salons. See this page for details.

* Please note that Heshiki’s surname is also romanized as Hirashiki on some Nikon Salon web pages.

Acchi Kocchi: Here and There on the Web

From <em>Persona</em>, by Hiroh Kikai
Lens Culture has put up an interview with photographer Hiroh Kikai that was done by French curator and critic Marc Feustal, presumably conducted recently while Kikai was in Paris for the recently-concluded Paris Photo fair. I always appreciate photographers who are also articulate with the written word like Robert Adams, and have had a sense that Kikai, who studied philosophy at university and whose essays have been extensively published would fit this mold. However, only a few of his writings are available in English.

Truth be told, Kikai tells Feustal that “the idea of writing has always more or less paralyzed me,” and his take on writing and how it compares to photography is just one of several interesting insights into Kikai that the interview provides. I particularly appreciated this part:

To be completely honest with you, I must admit that I never look at the work of other photographers. I am always concerned that I will be destabilized by the fact that some of them are much better than I am. If a photographer cannot look at this work objectively, then he is not a true photographer. A photographer must constantly put himself into perspective because photography is not an innate language. It is not because I spend 24 hours running through the streets looking for photogenic models to pose for my camera that I will get good results.

Read the whole thing. It’s not terribly long but very insightful. Kikai’s Asakusa Portraits was published by the International Center of Photography and Steidl earlier this year, marking his first non-Japan published book. We have several earlier Kikai books in the bookstore (both new and used), including a small paperback version of the Asakusa Portraits, as well as my own personal favorite, Tokyo Labyrinth, now unfortunately out of print and a bit pricey.
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Curious to find out more about Marc Feustal, I was taken to Studio Equis Limited, which puts together exhibitions and publications focusing on post-war and contemporary Japanese photography. Feustal is one of Studio Equis’ directors along with Tsuguo Tada and Helen Feustal.

Studio Equis was behind the Eyes of an Island exhibit that was held in London in 2007, and a Hiromi Tsuchida exhibit in Los Angeles earlier this year. Not surprisingly they were involved in Paris Photo as well, where they presented Tokyo Stories, featuring nearly 100 rare prints by Hiroshi Hamaya, Tadahiko Hayashi and Shigeichi Nagano. The Studio Equis website has ample slide shows illustrating each of these exhibitions, as well as the Japan: a Self-Portrait, Photographs 1945-1964 one they will be putting on in Tokyo and Nagoya next year.

You can also browse photographs by artists including Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Toshio Shibata, and the aforementioned Hiroh Kikai, among others.
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Michael Hoppen Gallery is currently showing Hana Kinbaku, a series of “handmade, one-off diptychs, never before seen in the UK” by Nobuyoshi Araki.
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I have been looking for some sort of online blogging or reporting about Paris Photo but have not really come up with much. I’m probably not searching hard enough, although it isn’t exactly the kind of event that inspires “live blogging”, I suppose. 5B4/Errata Editions’ Jeffrey Ladd was there and he has a brief report on some of the proceedings, although nothing touching on the Japan side of things except for a picture of Koji Onaka signing books (scroll right to the end of this photo strip). It looks like he’s signing a copy of Tokyo Candy Box, which we are carrying in the bookstore (signed as well).

The event organizers themselves have posted five videos over at Dailymotion, of varying lengths (nine are listed but they include 4 duplicates). They’re a mixture of meandering through galleries and booths, and interviews with various participants or spectators, and more or less professionally done. Sound is mainly French or English depending on who is being interviewed. Japan-related content is scattered amongst all five videos.

YouTube has a few videos up which give a taste of the event. Start here or here (the latter more a slide show of pictures of the event).

This Flickr user has a few photos of the event at the beginning of his photostream. There are more photos here as well, although not so many on the Japan angle. Another gallery is here, along with a video if you scroll down the page. I was sort of expecting there to be quite a lot of photos on Flickr but there aren’t. It’s probably too early since past Paris events are well-represented.