Category Archives: Photosonics

Sonic journeys into photography. By combining photographs and audio footage often (but not always) taken at the same time as the photograph itself we explore the possibilities of electronic multimedia that is unpublishable anywhere else.

Books by Hiromi Tsuchida and Issei Suda

(You can watch the video at a larger size at Japan Exposures’ page on Vimeo.)

Back by popular demand (I think!), I’ve created another video book review. The last proper one of these I did was over a year ago (somewhat ironic considering I created the first ones as a way to save the time it would take to do a proper written review), so it’s certainly about time to have another go at them.

This time I look at two books that collect material shot in the predominantly rural areas of Japan in the 1970s: Zokushin, by Hiromi Tsuchida, and Minyou Sanga, by Issei Suda. Both works — Zokushin a 2004 reprint of a bona fide classic (see Vartanian/Kaneko, Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s, p. 192-196), Minyou Sanga a relatively recent publication of source material shot in the late 70s — were part of a distinct trend among Japanese photographers such as Daido Moriyama, Shomei Tomatsu, Yutaka Takanashi, Masatoshi Naito and Kazuo Kitai, to name a few, who explored subjects and landscapes far removed from the urban centers of Japan.

As I explain in my commentary on the video, both books ostensibly look at the festivals and rituals of Japan, particularly in rural areas where festivals and folk traditions continue to this day to exert a strong influence and sense of community. Nevertheless, they are as far from a “The Festivals of Japan” coffee table book sensibility as you are likely to find. While these festivals are the backbone of both books, I would argue that the books are much more portraits of people and communities trying to maintain an identity and connection to the past amidst a rapidly developing and urbanized Japan of the 70s.


Photographs by Hiromi Tsuchida
Revised edition, published in 2004 by Tosei-sha; hardcover with dustcover; 240 pages, 115 b/w plates; 30cm x 30cm; photo captions, afterword essay by Kazuhiko Komatsu, cover flap reprint of 1976 text by Toshinobu Yasunaga, and Tsuchida biography — all in English and Japanese; Tsuchida’s short text on the occassion of the reprint in Japanese only. (Please note that obi shown in the video is no longer available as per the artist’s request.)

Minyou Sanga

Photographs by Issei Suda
Published in 2007 by Tosei-sha; softcover with dustcover; 212 pages, 202 b/w plates; 19cm x 26cm; the book’s colophon is in both English and Japanese, but Suda’s two-page essay on the background of the project is in Japanese only. The photos are not captioned.

Both Zokushin and Minyou Sanga are available in the Japan Exposures bookstore.

Moriyama’s Magazine Work from the 60s and 70s

We have created another in our series of video looks at recent photobooks, this time focusing on the two just-published collections of work that Daido Moriyama published in various photography magazines from 1965 to 1974. The two books together collect over 90 different series from a time when seemingly you could not pick up an issue of one of the two major photo monthlies of the time — Camera Mainichi and Asahi Camera — and not find a Moriyama photo essay in them.

I fully admit that sometimes the Moriyama publishing juggernaut tends to overwhelm in its recent Araki-like incarnation, but in this case these two companion volumes are to me completely justified. By reproducing the essays exactly as they were first published, with their original layout, typography, and captions, we get a unique insight into how the Provoke aesthetic of are, bure, bokeh took shape in the mind of its dominant proponent, and what’s more, the books bring us closer to experiencing the vibrant experimentation that characterized Japanese photography at the time.

にっぽん劇場 1965-1970
Nippon Gekijou 1965-1970

Photographs by Daido Moriyama
Published in 2009 by Getsuyosha; softcover with dustcover; 410 plates (365 b/w, 45 color); 26cm x 18cm; occasional English translations contained in the original photo essays are available, but in general the text in the book is all Japanese.

何かへの旅 1971-1974
Nani ka e no tabi 1971-1974

Photographs by Daido Moriyama
Published in 2009 by Getsuyosha; softcover with dustcover; 484 plates (334 b/w, 150 color); 26cm x 18cm; occasional English translations contained in the original photo essays are available, but in general the text in the book is all Japanese.

(You can watch the above video at a larger size at Japan Exposure’s page at Vimeo.)

Japan in the 60s and 70s – through 4 Photobooks

As many of you are no doubt aware, there is a wealth of wonderful photography books being published every year in Japan. Trouble is, they don’t come cheap, whether you are lucky enough to find them on your side of the world or you order them from places like the Japan Exposures bookstore, especially when shipping costs are factored in. This makes it difficult for many people to take a chance on books by unknown photographers — and frankly that’s a shame. Recently I’ve been wondering if there isn’t more we here at Japan Exposures can be doing to, er, expose these books more.

This is the impetus for this video look at four new or recent publications, three of which are by photographers I feel comfortable in saying are unknown to the majority of our readership. All four books share in common the fact that the photographs were taken in the period of the 60s and 70s, and while each in its own right is a wonderful book, they seemed to resonate off of each other particularly well. In order of discussion, the four books featured in the above video are:

The Village Story: Kitagami, 1963-1973

Photographs by Hirokazu Ishida
Published in 2009 by Sokyusha (ltd. run of 700 copies); hardcover; 84 pages/77 plates (all b/w); 23cm x 24cm; includes English translations of afterword and photographer profile.

The Blue Period 1973-1979

Photographs by Akiyoshi Taniguchi
Published in 2009 by Sokyusha (ltd. run of 500 copies); hardcover (cloth) in slipcase; 64 pages/53 plates (all b/w); 23cm x 25cm; includes English translations of afterword and photographer profile.

Photographs by Daido Moriyama
Published in 2009 by Tosho Shinbun; softcover with obi; approx. 200 pages/190 plates (all b/w); 30cm x 21cm; Japanese text only; includes DVD (Japanese only) slideshow with brief footage of interview with Moriyama.

Photographs by Alao Yokogi
Published in 2006 by Ascom; softcover with obi; approx. 344 pages/320 plates (all b/w); 30cm x 21cm; essay in Japanese only (photo captions include English). (Unfortunately out of print. Please contact us if you would like us to try to find this book for you.)

(You can watch the above video in HD and/or at a larger size at Japan Exposure’s page at Vimeo.)

Introducing Photosonics #1-火の用心

This is the first episode of what might be a genre-defining means of publishing and viewing photographs.  Inspired by the soundscape (音の風景) and optimised for viewing on a mobile device, such as an iPod, each episode of Photosonics contains one or more photographs paired with audio footage, often – but not always – taken at the same time and place of the photograph itself.

[podcast format=”video”][/podcast]

In the first episode we join the members of the self-administration committee of a residential area in Abiko, Chiba prefecture, Japan on their traditional walk through the neighbourhood at the year end. The group is joined by volunteer residents. Together they walk in between the apartment blocks in the cold December nights with their flashlights, periodically chanting their reminder for fire safety. Curtains open in the buildings and residents wave and cheer them up, thanking them for their community efforts in the cold winter air.

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