Tag Archives: Sokyusha

Going Deeper – Kaiiki by Hitoshi Uemoto

Kaiiki, by Hitoshi UemotoI have to confess I had never heard that along with the well-known kamikaze suicide air pilots, the Japanese military had also employed suicide divers, human land mines, suicide boats, and manned torpedoes as they desperately tried to reverse their worsening fortunes in the last months of World War II. It is the manned torpedo program that forms the backdrop for Hiroshi Uemoto’s poignant Kaiiki, although its poignancy is a subtle one not readily apparent upon first view.

This isn’t a historical or documentarian look at Imperial Japan’s suicide mission program or the soldiers tasked with carrying out their tragic missions, but rather a book of landscapes, or more precisely seascapes. Nor is the sea Uemoto photographs — specifically the Seto Inland Sea, where the Imperial Navy maintained three training sites for their manned torpedo program — a rough, violent one that could help illustrate such an emotionally fraught act as sacrificing your life for a stipulated greater good. The sea we’re presented with is a disturbingly calm one, where the trail of a speeding fishing boat is the most violent thing that can be seen.

The photographs contained in the book are all in the square format, and masterfully composed. The square aids in enforcing a defined stillness, although within the square the distances and scope of the seascape and shoreline are not inconsequential. There is an expansiveness — and a surprising amount of variety — to Uemoto’s framing. The approach is much like the Seto Inland Sea itself, which is semi-enclosed (see a map here) and in many ways more like a large lake than a sea. (The Japanese title 海域 kaiiki translates to “sea area” or “waters”, as in the expression “territorial waters”.)

Kaiiki, by Hitoshi Uemoto

Although as mentioned there is a lot of variety in how Uemoto presents the Sea, there is also in the editing of the book a deliberate repeating of certain vistas, scenes shot perhaps at slightly different angles, or with slightly different foreground or background elements, where we can’t be certain whether they are of the same place or not. This has the effect — like that of the square — of keeping us mentally boxed in. Not in a negative or aggressive way, but to say, let’s stay here for a while, perhaps there’s more here than meets the eye, perhaps these views have stories to tell us if only we can have the patience to look, and listen.

The photos are almost all dark and moody, some almost impenetrably so, and many feature heavy cloud cover or foggy haze. Many may have been shot at night, although this isn’t obvious. In lesser hands this darkness could easily push the viewer to frustration rather than wonder. (The publisher Sokyusha deserves kudos for the masterful printing of what couldn’t have been easy material to work with.) But here this darkness also draws us inward, compelling us to look further, make sure we haven’t missed anything, playing upon our natural inclination to suspect there must be things lurking in the shadows.

Kaiiki, by Hitoshi Uemoto

It’s not in the shadows, of course, but that which lurks under the sea’s surface, that contains the mystery, and the suspicion that all may not be well here. A more tangible guide to what underlies all these seascapes is the handful of non-seascapes that Uemoto includes in the book, say of tunnels that must have served some military use or the one shot of a torpedo, most likely one displayed in connection with the Kaiten Memorial Museum that is located on Otsushima island, the main training site for the kaiten program. These work well to hint that this is not simply a book of landscapes, that there is a larger purpose at work, while for the most part remaining subtle enough so as to not derail the overall mood of the book. (My one bone to pick with the book is the slight tonal misstep of including two photos of a group of figures walking through the tunnels. They are probably high school boys on a school excursion, but their school uniforms give them a slightly military air and the connection is a bit too obvious for my tastes.)

Kaiiki, by Hitoshi Uemoto

Uemoto provides an afterword (available, along with a map of the area, in English in addition to Japanese) that gives a brief background of the kaiten program. In this day and age of agenda-inflected buzzwords, “suicide bomber” is a hard concept to come to grips with without the corresponding invective, but if we separate the men who carried out their training and eventual suicidal missions from the authorities who dictated them, it is difficult to fathom the psychological turmoil these young men must have been going through as they looked out from the island out onto the sea. As Uemoto writes, “I could not possibly convey here just how taut their state of mind must have been at the time. Yet the color of the sea and the aspect of the island remain unchanged today.”

There is such an obviousness to the latter statement, and yet reading this I was taken aback a bit. Of course, but for minor details here and there, the sea we gaze upon through Uemoto’s lens is the same one these young men looked upon. It is the constant and steadfastly innocent party to that which man has chosen to do with what it wants to.

Kaiiki, by Hitoshi Uemoto

Uemoto also uses the afterword to tell us a bit of he came to photograph on Otsushima. He writes that it was one of the first places he went to when he took up photography in the mid-1970s as he looked for something to shoot, but that he was unprepared to reconcile his relatively comfortable upbringing with that of the young men who prepared to die there some 30 years earlier. Comparing himself at that time to them, he writes:

[…]I recall feeling pathetic for having come of age during Japan’s economic growth spurt (that is, an era of materialism and greed) and I departed the island as if to flee from it. Now, approaching my sixtieth year, I am finally visiting this island again, feeling that I may now be able to direct my camera at it.

One can only wish more young photographers would flee from their chosen subjects in such a manner, for the intervening years and maturity have helped Uemoto produce a measured and reflective work of subtlety and craft that, much like the usually placid water surface Uemoto has captured, invites us deeper, but doesn’t submerge us.

Kaiiki is available in the Japan Exposures book shop.

Japan Exposures Tourist Bureau

Photo gallery in Yanaka
Photo gallery in Yanaka (Tokyo)

We get a lot of emails here at Japan Exposures headquarters along the lines of “I’m coming to Japan/Tokyo and wondering if you could recommend some photo galleries or museums to check out while I’m there,” so allow us to copy and paste a response just sent to one recent said inquiry, to which we add some links to make it handy while we’re at it. It should go without saying that what follows barely scratches the surface, especially where Tokyo is concerned. (In this case the destinations asked about were Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima.)


There are so many galleries in Tokyo that it’s really hard to recommend any above any else, as it depends on what they’re showing, etc. Off the top of my head, without knowing their exhibition schedules, you should check out in Tokyo:

Syabi (tokyo metro photo museum)
Photo Gallery International
Gallery 916 (site | Japan Exposures profile)
Zeit-Foto Salon
Taka Ishii Gallery
Zen Foto Gallery
Taro Nasu

Put any of those into Google, or better check out Tokyo Art Beat which is quite comprehensive and up-to-date. (They’ve also got an iOS and Android app.)

As for Kyoto and Hiroshima, I’m less familiar with those cities, and certainly there are far less galleries. The Kansai (Osaka/Kyoto) companion site to the one above should help out.

As for Hiroshima, I used this site (and their printed map, available free at various places in the city) when I traveled there 5-6 years ago:

Have fun!

Of course after firing off the email we thought of others to add, but we’ll leave it to other photo gallery lovers to chime in in the comments below (especially about Kansai and Hiroshima). One thing we would add is that there are a few areas in Tokyo which have clusters of galleries, which makes a nice and convenient walking tour and a better chance to happen upon the unexpected. A few areas that come to mind are Shinjuku (especially around Shinjuku Gyoenmae and Yotsuya San-chome stations), Bakurocho, Kiyosumi, and Roppongi.

Dizzy Noon: An Exchange of Culture and Awkwardness as Guests Entertain Hosts

Review by John Sypal for Japan Exposures

Reflecting on an special event held on a Sunday in the mid 1960s photographer Takao Niikura writes in the afterword of his book Dizzy Noon that:

“This was a chance to enter into the “other world” just for a day, a world surrounded by a two-meter, twenty centimeter tall barbed wire fence. I grasped my camera, together with seven or eight rolls of color film, which in those days was still something of a rarity, and set out.”

Dizzy Noon, by Takao NiikuraThe world which Niikura was allowed to entered that spring day was the US Naval Air Facility Atsugi, an hour southwest of Tokyo. An airdrome built in 1938 to serve as base for fighter aircraft tasked with defending Tokyo from American bombers, it was on this runway that General Douglas MacArthur first set foot on Japanese mainland after the end of hostilities. While many Japanese photographers spent the post-war era exploring the shadow of Americanization that crept over their homeland through a foreign military presence, Niikura’s slim and charming collection eschews broad emotional depth to simply focus in on the cross cultural happenings of one particular afternoon; “Friendship Day”, the annual open house and Airshow held on base at Atsugi on May 9th, 1965.

Dizzy Noon, by Takao Niikura The book opens up directly and literally from the base gate. With one arm on the wheel of his pale blue Volkswagen beetle an American man in aviator sunglasses looks out the window while an MP looks off into the background. The Japanese national flag billows above. Once inside we’re treated to a strange land- Niikura spends a frame of a pre-war wooden building- possibly barracks or an administration building. One wonders if the beginnings of the short lived “Atsugi Revolt” in the days following the Japanese surrender were planned in one of these buildings. As Niikura makes his way deeper into the facility we’re consistently shown his interest in the kitschy oriental decor he encounters. A “traditional” Japanese style bridge spans an small and quite empty concrete pond in a grassy spot near a parking lot. Over a pay phone hangs a large watercolor of the Great Buddha in Kamakura while a sailor, with cigarette in hand, waits behind his comrade. Vivid red Shinto tore gates appear here and there in the backgrounds.

Dizzy Noon, by Takao Niikura While Shomei Tomatsu may have been ironic or even malicious in his representation of foreign servicemen, Niikura captures his Americans with a sense of bemusement. Here we a smartly dressed officer caught in awkward pose- a sandwich in one hand with a camera around his neck. Later we discover a pot-bellied Army Sargent squinting ahead while his jeep sits covered in young Japanese children. In between all the soldiers and aircraft and Jeeps and tanks Niikura keeps a steady lens on his countrymen. Japanese fathers with wives and children, all dressed in their Sunday best, cooly meander in and out of the frame. The youngest of the children obviously enjoy the chance to poke, prod, and climb on all the spotlessly clean military hardware. Little boys laugh as they sit on the wing of a jet trainer while on other pages young men snap photos with their Nikons. Visitors line up for a chance to walk through cargo plane. In one somewhat dark frame a very young brother and sister grasp the

The message of this book is situated in the faces and bodies of the adult Japanese visitors in contrast to their American ‘guests’.”

propeller of a Boeing B-50, the upgraded version of the B-29, the very bomber which reduced much of urban Japan to smoldering ash twenty years before. Self assured, broad shouldered, and grinning, American men, women, and children drink 7-up and munch from bags of popcorn.

Dizzy Noon, by Takao NiikuraThe message of this book is situated in the faces and bodies of the adult Japanese visitors in contrast to their American “guests”. Perhaps no image sums this up better than the one of a father interacting with an American pilot in his flight suit (“Rus” is written on his helmet). The pilot wields the leverage in the encounter with his index finger raised as to make a point. Certainly a language barrier was at work but the father, with his son’s arm hanging on his own, listens on with his hands drawn up before him. It’s by no means a confrontational scene but the contrast in confidence is marked by the body language shown. Page after page we see Japanese visitors with hands together, an expression of reservation? No one ever really looks comfortable, not when trying to order fifteen cent hamburgers at a window in English, and certainly not when partaking in a square dance with Americans in their Roy Rodgers Western Dress shirts. Younger Japanese women group together in threes and twos as they look apprehensively at the photographer. Indeed, the only young Japanese woman we find smiling is one arm in arm with her sailor boyfriend. Often we find Japanese men standing huddled together with arms crossed looking out at the spectacle before them. All the while brand new F-4 Phantoms, soon to see action in Vietnam, sit glistening off in the distance.

Dizzy Noon, by Takao NiikuraIn the following 45 years Niikura went on to become a professional photographer and in 2010 published Dizzy Noon through Tokyo-based publisher, Sokyusha. A rather well put together little photobook, it is slim, with thirty six color images printed on a firm paper stock. It fits perfectly in your hands, just slightly taller than it is wide. The effectively simple layout respects the integrity of his 35mm frames with vertical images siting at the edge of the pages and horizontal ones centered. The book concludes with a thoughtful closing from the photographer in Japanese and English.

Dizzy Noon, by Takao NiikuraWhile enjoyable, this is a somewhat a peculiar book to find an audience for. Perhaps it is too particular to that single day it pictures to make much sense outside of its context to an international audience. On the other hand, it is charming and often entertaining. Maybe the best audience would be the Americans appearing in these photographs. I’d like to think that through the internet someone stationed at Atsugi in the mid 1960’s will come across this article and buy a copy. After all these years, they’ll be able to see how they and their home away from home appeared through a Japanese lens. I think they’d be interested in what they find.

Dizzy Noon is available in the Japan Exposures bookstore.

Moriyama’s Kabukicho lounge singer girlfriend love story — Nagisa Review

Daido Moriyama's Nagisa

Review by John Sypal for Japan Exposures

The thing about Daido Moriyama books is that as nice as they are, by now they certainly won’t surprise anyone. You know what you’re going to get the moment you see the cover. Ginza? Buenos Aries? Hawaii? You know exactly how the pictures are going to look. As a native Nebraskan I can tell you that if Moriyama were to spend a week shooting in the Cornhusker State the inevitable collection is going to look just like Moriyama does Nebraska. And it probably wouldn’t look all that different than his pictures of anywhere else he has photographed. Until the other day the only book by Moriyama that I had in my collection was the cheaper of his two Hokkaido books.

Daido Moriyama's Nagisa To me Moriyama had always been one of those photographers whose work was never all that interesting and it wasn’t until his Hokkaido show at Rathole gallery in early 2009 when it clicked. I found his exhibited work extremely moving, the gravity of which was revealed in a gallery setting with prints metaphorically layering upon one another to create a dizzying experience. I went five times to that show. In print (as opposed to prints) the books felt flat. Literally his pictures are layered on one another in book form but nearly all of his books were too constricting, too much about the book than the images to be of much personal interest.

So the other day at Sokyusha, the preeminent photo book publisher in Tokyo, I surprised myself by purchasing a copy of Moriyama’s recent book Nagisa. As I flipped through it, from behind the counter Ota-san, the shop owner, mentioned that this collection is simply of Moriyama’s current love interest, a kabukicho & kayokoku singer named Yoko Nagisa. While my photography book collection might be lean on Daido Moriyama, books featuring lovers or wives of Japanese photographers are well represented. Looking at it in the context of such a book it was doubly interesting.

Daido Moriyama's Nagisa Yoko. What else could her name be but Yoko?

On one hand Nagisa follows that grand tradition of Japanese photo books centering on a singer or musical act. On the other hand it follows the other even grander tradition of Japanese photo books in that it are collections of photos of a lover. Since both of those hands belong to Moriyama it is very much the book you might imagine when hearing “Daido Moriyama’s Kabukicho lounge singer girlfriend love story”. If you know much about any of the words in the previous sentence you probably have a good idea as to how this book looks.

The book is handsome. It’s thick, visually dense, and features exquisite printing. Laid out flat it pulls the viewer in. Plus she is gorgeous. But for as hefty as the book is and for as distantly beautiful as Ms. Nagisa is there isn’t much development of her or her relationship with the photographer throughout all 200+ pages. She makes a good picture, hell, Moriyama makes a great picture and that’s what this comes down to. It’s two people good at what they do – one skilled with a camera, the other one looking great with eyeshadow in vintage outfits, moody bars, back streets of Shinuku, singing at Moriyama exhibitions, on desolate beaches, in the last train car, or among cherry trees in bloom. Sometimes it is several of these things at once.

Daido Moriyama's NagisaBut for every moody monochromatic sunset or languid look off into the distance one might feel that what’s not captured is true personal development. We don’t know any more about Yoko Nagisa by the last few pages than we could gather from the first ones. Moriyama’s Yoko is certainly not Araki’s Yoko. That said, maybe we don’t need to expect intense character development or a Deep Story when looking at collections like this. A beautiful book can be just that. In this way this collaboration between these two performers has resulted in something well worth a look.

You can see more images from the book, as well as an interview with Moriyama and Nagisa, in this video (Japanese only).

Nagisa is available in the Japan Exposures bookstore.

Interview with Sachiko Kadoi

Sachiko Kadoi was born in 1963 in Tokyo, and studied graphic design at Tama University of Art (Tokyo) from 1982-1986. She has been actively pursuing photography since 2003, and her first book Kadoi Sachiko: Photographs 2003-2008 was published in the Fall of 2008 by Sokyusha.

Here she talks to Japan Exposures about how she came to adopt photography as her means of expression, the importance of photographers as different as Michael Kenna and Koji Onaka in setting her on her creative path, and her thoughts about the man-made landscapes that comprise the dominant theme of her work.

The interview was conducted during the last week of December, 2008. In addition to the photographs that accompany this interview, please see our special Sachiko Kadoi gallery.


Japan Exposures: When did you first become interested in photography, in taking pictures?

Sachiko Kadoi: When I was 11, my father bought for me and my sister an easy-to-use half-frame compact camera for me to take with me on a school trip. This was the first time I took photos. Bringing a camera along on school trips is quite a common thing to do in Japan, but I was happy to handle the camera, and remember that it was interesting to take my own photos. It was when I was in college and bought myself a camera that I began to be more seriously interested in photography and in taking photos.

JE: You attended Tama University of Art in Tokyo, is that right?

SK: Yes, that’s right. I was interested in art from a young age. There were art books and catalogs of various exhibitions that my grandfather, who was a painter, bought into the house. I often looked at these and I also used to go to museums in my junior high school and high school days, and thought that I wanted to be a painter in the future.

But we lived in a small house, my parents, my older sister and I, and my grandparents, and I didn’t even have my own room, and so to go to art college was not easy. It was like the movie “Billy Elliot” [laughs]. I felt I needed to be independent from my parents after graduating from college, but it seemed impossible to be able to survive as a painter. So I entered the Graphic Design department at Tama University of Art. However, I came to feel that the advertising world was not a place I could be comfortable in, and ultimately, I felt that I wouldn’t be able to be happy doing that kind of work.

Sachiko Kadoi: Airport, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 2004

Thankfully, there was a photography class offered in the design department. I was interested in working in the darkroom, so it was a lot of fun. At that time, I bought a Canon 35mm camera. I still have it, and have used it without trouble for 20 years. I learned how to print black and white, as well as various other techniques little by little, such as toning prints, making photograms, solarization, etc. At any rate, I liked taking photographs. I preferred to take pictures more than looking at another photographers’ work. I didn’t look at photo books or go to photo galleries that much, compared to now. After graduating I liked to travel on my own, both within Japan and overseas, taking pictures as a way of enjoying myself.

JE: What did you do to support yourself after graduating?

SK: Rather than entering a design company after graduation, I did freelance work in the book publishing field. Mainly book design, but other various things related to books as well, such as editing, making objects for craft-making books for children, illustration, and so on. The books were mostly about natural science and geared towards children from kindergarten to primary school age, or books about practical skills and child-care counseling for child-care professionals. The work was really hard, there was a year I couldn’t have any holidays at all. During this time, I continued to hold on to the desire to do my own artwork, not photography but drawing or painting, but it just wasn’t possible because of my work load.

I looked at Kenna’s photos again after that talk, thinking that there were eight hours captured on this paper, and I began to look at photography in a new way.”

JE: When did you begin to consider photography as a creative outlet?

SK: Well, I often worked with commercial photographers in the studio and on location, and I learned about book editing work in an editorial agency that had a stock agency attached to it, where we would get stock photographs mainly related to natural science for the books. So photography was always a part of my freelance work, but I began to consider photography as a creative outlet after I went to Koji Onaka’s workshop in 2003.

JE: How did your participation in that workshop come about?

SK: There were actually a lot of things that happened in 2003 to make that year a turning point for me.

There was a retrospective exhibition of Michael Kenna’s work in Tokyo, and I attended a slide show and talk that he gave. He talked about exposing one of his photos from his Ratcliffe Power Station series for eight hours. [Kadoi remembers it being Kenna’s “Study 31” from this series. – ed] Of course I knew that he used long exposures to make those photographs, but I was very surprised to hear it was eight hours! I looked at those photos again after that talk, thinking about a camera that looked at a power station in the quiet of the night and that there were eight hours captured on this paper, and I began to look at photography in a new way. I had the feeling that a photograph was not the flow of time and space passing before my eyes that the camera captured, as a mere tool, but rather that a photograph was the flow of time and space passing before the camera, as if it was like a living thing, with its own personality, and that I captured what it was looking at. At that moment, I had the strong desire to take photographs. Although this urge was a bit strange, seeing as I had been taking photographs for 20 years.

Sachiko Kadoi: Rut, Matusdo, Chiba 2005

And then that summer I participated in Koji Onaka’s photography workshop held at the Yokohama Museum of Art. About 10 years ago a friend of mine who was into looking at photographs, knowing that I liked to travel by myself to various places, taking photos, asked me to go along with him to an exhibition of Onaka’s. He probably thought Onaka-san’s work would be good for me to study. I still remember seeing works of his shown in Ebisu that had been printed large onto rolls of paper.

I guess that in doing nothing but the opposite of what Onaka-san talked about, I was not a good student.”

JE: Could you tell us more about Onaka’s workshop, and what you learned from him?

SK: I think the most important thing that I got from the workshop was that it gave me the intention to exhibit my photos as a photographer. It was not only about my strong feelings towards art, but also that up until this time, because of my freelance work, I had had the idea that a person called “photographer” was someone who did commercial photography. So I hadn’t yet hit upon the idea that I could exhibit my own work.

Onaka-san talked to us about photography’s “時代性” (jidaisei) by which he meant a photograph’s ability to record the time period in which it was taken. According to Onaka-san, it is because of this ability that photographs derive their power. He also talked about “interestingness” captured in photographs. At this time, he was negative about even taking pictures in foreign countries because we didn’t know its jidaisei. He talked about the importance of being genuine when taking photos of subject matter with a strong character. That is his methodology for taking photos, and that is why his photos are good. However, if I followed his way, it was only occasionally that I could produce work with a similar feel.

His workshop was a good opportunity for me to think about my own photos, question what it was I wanted to do, what I had been doing up to that point, and what I should be doing going forward, and so on. As a result, I ended up ignoring Onaka-san’s words to “take more pictures of towns”. [laughs] More and more I came to take photographs of simple scenes and places. So, I guess that in doing nothing but the opposite of what he talked about, I was not a good student. [laughs] The series of photographs of the gravel mountains in the latter half of my book [Kadoi Sachiko: Photographs 2003-2008] came from such a background.

Anyway, I was still working very hard to support myself, but I was also becoming crazy about photography. Even when I finished my work at 2 o’clock in the morning, I would then look at my contact sheets for over an hour.

JE: Speaking of your book from Sokyusha, it carries the subtitle “Photographs, 2003-2008”. That makes me think this book is a “collection” of your work from the last 5 years, rather than a single project that took 5 years to photograph. How do you think of this book?

SK: Actually, I want my next book to be a single project. But I wanted to make this book first. However, rather than a collection of individual images taken over the last five years, I think the photographs have been selected and edited together to become something with a unified feel. I feel that Ota Michitaka-san has done a great job taking a number of my projects and shuffling them around. At first I showed him the postscript I had written and conveyed to him my thought process behind the taking of the photos.

[Ota runs the publishing company Sokyusha and has edited and published many important photo books, including the original Ravens by Masahisa Fukase, as well as books by Daido Moriyama, Miyako Ishiguchi, and Onaka. – ed.]

JE: The book does seem to me to be very well edited. What was the working process with Ota?

SK: At first I handed him the photos which I had selected, and about a week later he presented the first draft, and then I gave him my opinion. Every time Ota-san shifted the photos around, I would make a mock-up and he would check the sequencing again. He would suggest what photographs he thought would work the best in the sequencing, and then I would look at the contact sheets again, and print more photos as well. The inclusion in the book of photos from the “gravel mountain” series was a result of this process. We worked on this from the middle of July until October (2008). It was very tough work because of the short time span.

I don’t think that man and nature are opposing concepts, and therefore I don’t want to take photographs from such a point of view.”

JE: There are only a few photographs in the book that have any people in them, but on the other hand, it seems that almost everything we seen in the photographs comes from man, is man-made. Can you tell us more about your approach to landscapes and what attracts you to a scene?

SK: Although I am walking around places where I rarely encounter people, I’m thinking that I want to take pictures of people. But this thought to take photos of “man” doesn’t mean that I want to take pictures of, say, the elderly that I sometimes pass by on my walks. Japan is a small country, and because of this we can see a direct relationship between people and nature or the land everywhere we go. Sachiko Kadoi: From "Sank in the time and space", Hamaoka, Shizuoka, 2007I’m not particularly thinking in a conscious way that “this object has a relationship with man”, but it seems that the scenes in front of me that I want to take are essentially always those kind of scenes. I don’t think that man and nature are opposing concepts, and therefore I don’t want to take photographs from such a point of view. While there is a clamor against environmental destruction nowadays, when I look at the landscapes on islands or sand dunes, etc., I find that man’s existence is small and that I am overwhelmed by the immense power of this other thing, that is nature or what some people might call “God”. The important thing for me is that, as opposed to ruins which are of “the past”, the subjects I want to take photographs of most of all show man’s existence, and are things still in operation.

JE: These are not what many people would consider beautiful places.

SK: Daniel Stifler, who translated the postscript of my book into English, told me that the subjects of my photographs are perhaps not beautiful in a traditional sense, but that he felt I was able to find beauty in them, and that there is both space and silence. I was told similar things by some Japanese people, such as “I like your work because there is a space I can participate in”. I was very happy to hear that.

JE: How often do you photograph? Are you a photographer who is always shooting pictures, or are you a person who works more on a project by project basis?

SK: I think a bit of both, but I don’t have the feeling that I am always taking pictures. But that doesn’t mean that I take pictures by seeking out beforehand potential locations to shoot in, according to some theme or another. I think encountering the landscapes just by walking and walking is important for me. When I’m out shooting, I don’t take photos or not take photos to fit some theme.

JE: Can I ask you about the camera(s) you use and whether or not equipment is important to you?

SK: I shoot in 35mm and sometimes use a Mamiya 645 camera. I think the camera – or rather, the lens – is important, but I am not a camera otaku. My camera is not so bad, but I am thinking I want another one. I received a 6 x 9 format camera last year, so I am looking forward to taking photos with that. It is often said about me that I like to take photos unhurriedly, but I take photos as if I’m taking snapshots, and shoot quickly. I don’t vacillate about composition, and those times when I look through the viewfinder and can’t decide on a composition, I don’t take the photograph. I don’t use a tripod except in dark situations – it seems to change the photograph if I use one. As for film, I used to like XP2, but I use Tmax 400 developed in XTOL now. I process and print my own work at home.

JE: What are you working on now?
Sachiko Kadoi: From "In the beginning" Oshima, Tokyo, 2004
SK: The photographs that are in my new book are several projects that continues now. The series of gravel mountain in particular I want to spend more time continuing to photograph, and would like to publish it sometime in the future. There are lots of different photos I have taken from this series, so I am thinking about what kind of things I can do with those photos for a photo book.

I started taking photographs in parks when I was in Onaka-san’s workshop, and some of these are in the book, but I stopped taking them after that. I would like to pick that back up again. Additionally, as a new experiment, I’m making small prints of photos taken in Tokyo’s old town, which I have at an arts and crafts store called “Fukugawa Ippuku” near the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, and which I add to each month. These will be snapshots taken in the older districts in the eastern part of Tokyo, what we call “shitamachi”, around my hometown.

And lastly, it is not landscapes, but I have a project that I have been wanting to do since I began to have exhibitions of my work held. This is still at a trial stage, so I cannot talk a lot about it, but it involves photographing the movement of the body. I don’t know if I can succeed in that project or not. Anyway, I need a lot of time for all these projects!

JE: 最初に写真に興味をもったのはいつですか?

SK: 11才のとき、日光林間学校に合わせて父親が子どものためにハーフサイズのコンパクトカメラを買ってくれて、初めて自分で撮りました。修学旅行や林間学校にカメラを持っていくのは日本では一般的なことですが、自分で撮るのはおもしろく、カメラを手にしてうれしかったのを覚えています。本格的に写真を始めたのは、大学時代にカメラを買ってからです。

JE: 多摩美術大学に通われたのですよね?

SK: そうです。もともと私は美術に興味がありました。画家だった祖父が買った美人画の画集やいろいろな展覧会の図録が家にありましたので、それらを見たり、また中学高校時代は美術館に通ったりして、将来は画家になりたいなと思っていました。でも私の家族は小さな家に両親と姉と私と祖父母とで住んでいて自分の部屋もなかったし、美術大学に進むのも大変でした。映画『リトルダンサー』みたいで(笑)。それで卒業後はとにかく親から独立したいと考えていて、そんな自分にはファンアートの世界は生計を立てる上で難しく思いました。それでデザイン科に進んだのですが、入ってみたものの広告デザインの世界には馴染めませんでした。


Sachiko Kadoi: Airport, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 2004


JE: 卒業後はどうされていたのですか?

SK: 卒業後はデザイン事務所には勤めずにフリーランスで書籍の仕事をしました。ブックデザインの仕事ですが、構成、編集、造形物の制作や、イラストレーションなど、本に関するいろいろなことをやりました。主に幼児から小学生の読む自然科学の本や、保育士向けの実技書や保育カウンセリングについての本です。仕事は本当に忙しく一年休みなく働いた年もありました。その間も、作品を作りたい、これは写真ではなくドローイングやペインティングですが、その気持ちはずっと変わらず持ち続けていたのですが、忙しい毎日でなかなかできませんでした。

JE: 写真を表現手段として考え始めたのはいつですか。

SK: スタジオ撮影や野外の撮影の仕事もありましたし、主に自然科学の本に使われる写真のストックをしている編集事務所で編集の勉強をさせていただいたので、いつも写真と隣り合わせの仕事ではありました。でも表現手段として考え始めたのは2003年に尾仲さんのワークショップに通ってからです。

JE: ワークショップに通われたのはどういうきっかけですか?

SK: 2003年は私にとって、ターニングポイントとなるできごとがたくさんありました。マイケル・ケンナさんの個展があり、ご本人のスライドトークがありました。そのなかで、ケンナさんが “Ratcliffe Power Station”の写真のひとつに8時間露光したと聞き、もちろん長時間露光の写真とはわかってはいましたが8時間というのに大変驚きました。(そのシリーズの中で門井さんは「Study 31」を記憶している。- 編集者談) スライドトークが終わったあと再びその写真を、そこに8時間の時間が写っているのだと、夜の静寂に発電所に向かっているカメラを思い浮かべながら見ているうちに、こんな思いが浮かびました。

Sachiko Kadoi: Rut, Matusdo, Chiba 2005


JE: 尾仲さんのワークショップについてもう少し教えてください。

SK: 尾仲さんのワークショップで得たものの1番は、作品を発表していこうという意思をもてたということだと思います。美術に対する思いが強かっただけでなく、仕事を通じて、写真家と呼ばれる人はコマーシャルの仕事をしていると思っていたので、自分の写真を作品として発表するという考えを思いつきませんでした。


JE: 蒼穹舎から出された本について、”Photographs, 2003-2008″と副題に、ひとつのプロジェクトによる写真集というより、5年間の作品集と印象を受けましたが、そのへんについて聞かせて下さい。

SK: この次はひとつのプロジェクトで本を作りたいと考えていて、その前にこれを作っておきたかったというのがありました。ただそれぞれが独立したイメージの作品集ではなく、本として統一されたものになるように写真は絞られて編集されていると思います。編集の大田通貴さんは、いくつもの私のプロジェクトをシャッフルしながら、うまくまとめてくださったと感じています。大田さんには、後付けの文章を先に渡して、どういう思いで撮っているのかを伝えました。

JE: とてもよい編集がされていると思います。大田さんとの編集プロセスを聞かせてください。

SK: まずは大田さんにセレクトした写真を渡し、一週間後にいただいた案に今度は私が意見を出しました。写真が入れ替わるたびに私が小さい完成見本を作り、大田さんが再度流れをチェックしました。流れのなかでそこにどんな写真くるとより良いのかを聞き、コンタクトから見直しプリントを繰り返したところもありました。砂利山のあたりがそうです。2008年の7月の中旬から10月までの作業でした。期間としては短かったので大変きつい作業でもありました。


SK: もともと歩いていてもめったに人に会わない場所なのですが、「人を撮りたい」と思っているのです。でもその「人を撮りたい」と思う私の思いは、例えばたまにすれ違うお年寄りを撮るというのとは違うものであると考えています。日本は国土が狭いので、どこへ行っても人と自然(土地)との関わりが見られます。Sachiko Kadoi: From "Sank in the time and space", Hamaoka, Shizuoka, 2007特に意識して「こういうものは人との関わりだ」と考えて撮ることはありませんが、撮りたいなと思う目の前の風景がそもそもどれもそんな感じに私には思えます。人と自然は相対立するものでではないと考えていますので、そういう視点で撮りたくはありません。環境破壊が叫ばれている昨今ですが、むしろ島や砂丘などで見る風景には、人は本当小さくそれ以外の力、自然というかそれ以上の、「神」と呼ぶ人もいるでしょうが、その大きさに圧倒されることがあります。重要なことは、人の存在といっても、廃墟のように”かつて”ものではなく、現在稼働しているものを撮りたいのです。

JE: 多くの人々があまりきれいな場所と思わないでしょう。

SK: 翻訳してくれたダニエル・スティフラーさんには、私は伝統的な意味で美しいものは撮ってはいないが、どんなものにも美を見いだしていると言われました。それから私の写真には空間と静寂があるとも。似たようなことを私の写真を好きだといってくださる日本の方にも言われたことがあります。「見る私の居場所がある」と。それらを聞いたときとてもうれしく思いました。

JE: どのくらいの頻度で撮るのですか?いつも撮っているタイプの写真家でしょうか?それともプロジェクトを基本にして撮っている方でしょうか?

SK: どちらもと思いますが…、あまりいつもいつも撮っているという感じではありません。でもテーマに沿って、被写体のあるようなところをあらかじめ調べ、撮りに行くということではなく、あくまで歩いて歩いて風景に出合うことを大切に考えています。撮るときに、テーマに沿って撮ったり撮らなかったりもないです。

JE: お使いのカメラや設備について聞かせてください。

SK: 35ミリと、その他にはマミヤの645のカメラを持っていて、時々はそれで撮ります。カメラ(というかレンズ)は大切だと思いますが、”カメラオタク”ではありません。私のカメラは悪くはありませんが、また違うカメラも欲しいなとは思っています。昨年69のカメラをもらいました。今はそれで撮るのを楽しみにしています。よく人から「ゆっくり構えて撮っているようだ」と言われますが、スナップショットのような感覚で撮っていて、撮るのは速いです。構図に迷うこともなく、ファインダーをのぞきながら構図を迷うときは撮るのをやめてしまいます。暗い時間以外は三脚も使いません。三脚を使うと写真が変わってしまうように思います。フィルムについてはXP2が気に入っていたのですが、今はTmax 400を使いエクストールで現像しています。自分の家で現像もプリントもしています。

JE: これからの予定について聞かせてください。
Sachiko Kadoi: From "In the beginning" Oshima, Tokyo, 2004
SK: 写真集に収められた写真はほとんどがいくつかの継続しているプロジェクトです。特に砂利山はまだまだ時間をかけて撮り続け、近い将来まとめたいと考えています。いろんな写真がありますので、写真集でどんなことができるのか考えて進めていきたいと考えています。