Rinko Kawauchi at Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne

It’s not the first time that I am mentioning Rinko Kawauchi in my blog, but this has a special reason.
I think it was 2003 when Markus Schaden, my local photobook dealer showed me a small photobook by a Japanese women photographer whom I had not heard of at that time. It was “Utatane” (Siesta) by Rinko Kawauchi. “Utatane” caught my attention immediately, since her photography was so much different to any photographer of her generation.”Utatane” is included in vol. 2 of “The Photobook: A History” by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger. See my previous post.

Rinko Kawauchi: Untitled (from the series "Aila"), 2003

Rinko Kawauchi: Untitled (from the series “Aila”), 2003


Rinko Kawauchi had her first exhibition at the end 1990s only a few years after a new – not to say the first – generation of women photographer had emerged in Japan. Before the mid-1990s, the Japanese photography scene was completely male dominated, but this changed almost over night when the first onna no ko shashinka (girly photographers) entered the scene. Those onna no ko shashinka mostly did a kind of subjective documentary photography influenced by Nan Goldin and Nobuyoshi Araki. These women, amongst them most famous Hiromix and Yurie Nagashima, talked mainly about their own lives. With their spontaneous and direct and dairy like style the young photographers opened a new narrative in the Japanese photography, but soon they reached their own limitations, because of their self centred approach on reality.

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Tomoko Sawada: Early Works

While I wrote my last post about Tomoko Sawada I became curious about her early works which I haven’t seen yet. Katsuya Ishida the owner of MEM gallery had been so kind to send me three of her early works currently exhibited at his gallery. The early works, done while Sawada was still a student at the Seian College of Art and Design, seem to be more playful than her later conceptual series, but they are already very strong in my opinion.

Tomoko Sawada: «Doll 1», 1996


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Tomoko Sawada at KPO Kirin Plaza and MEM, Osaka

This is my second post about Tomoko Sawada about whom I wrote two years ago already. Currently she has two exhibitions at KPO Gallery at Kirin PlazaKirin Plaza itself is worth a visit. The building – which gives the impression of a huge sculpture – by the architect Shin Takamtsu is a landmark building in Osaka. Scenes from the movie “Black Rain” were filmed at Kirin Plaza and at MEM gallery in Osaka (until Sept. 3).

“Masquerade” at KPO shows Tomoko Sawada in the guise of a few hundred different self-created identities. The exhibition includes the series “OMIAI” (2001), “Cover/Face” (2002) and “Recruit” (2006). A new book by Sawada with the title of the exhibition “Masquerade” is due to be published soon. In conjunction with the exhibition at Kirin Plaza, MEM gallery exhibits “Early Works” from 1996/97 which have not been shown to the public before.
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Rinko Kawauchi: Interview at PingMag/ exhibition in Milan

10 questions to Rinko Kawauchi about photography
Recently I wrote a short notice about Rinko Kawauchi’s latest publication “Rinko Diary“. For those who want to read a little bit more about her work, the online magazine PingMag from Tokyo has an interesting interview with Rinko on occasion of her recent exhibition at Photographer’s Gallery, London.


Rinko Kawauchi, one of Japan’s most popular female photographers today, created a sensation across the contemporary photography world in 2001 when she simultaneously released three critically acclaimed photography books: Utatane, Hanabi and Hanako and won the 27th Kimura Ihei Photography Award. Rinko’s publications have continued to amaze the photography world with three more books: Aila, the eyes the ears and Cuicui. She won not only the hearts of the young generation in Japan, but Rinko Kawauchi is said do be the next upcoming photographer – even in London. Being a great fan of Rinko’s work, I jumped on the opportunity to talk to her during her exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery in London
[Quote: PingMag]

Rinko Kawauchi: The eyes, the ears, 2005 - cover photo

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Yonosuke Natori and Nippon Studio, Kawasaki City Museum

If you happen to be in Tokyo area I would highly recommend a side trip to the Kawaski City Museum to see the exhibition about “Yônosuke Natori and Nippon Studio (1931-1945)”The English translation of the Japanese exhibition title (on the exhibition poster or at Tokyo Art Beat for example) is only half done. The full English translation would be “Yônosuke Natori and Japan Studio”. (until Sept. 3).

Yonosuke Natori and Nippon Kobo

Yônosuke Natori (1910-62) was a professional photographer, founder of “Nippon Studio” (“Nippon Kôbô” in Japanese) and publisher of the international, multilanguage magazine “Nippon” (Japan). With his studio and the magazine Yonosuke Natori introduced to Japan cutting-edge photographic techniques and design that he studied in Germany.[1]As far as I know there is not much information available on Natori outside Japan. There is some basic information published on Natori, his studio and “Nippon” in The History of Japanese … Continue reading

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1 As far as I know there is not much information available on Natori outside Japan. There is some basic information published on Natori, his studio and “Nippon” in The History of Japanese Photography.

Daido Moriyama at Foam, Amsterdam

Daido Moriyama is currently exhibited at Foam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, until August 23).

Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog, Misawa, 1971

Those who are a little bit into Japanese photography will know his work. Daido Moriyama is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century and IMHO his book “Farwell Photography” (1972) is more radical than any western photography book of the beginning 1970s. At the moment I am waiting for a new reprint of “Farwell Photography” and I will write more about it after it has arrived from Japan.

Daido Moriyama: Japans Scenic Trio - Mutsumatsushima, 1974

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Tamotsu Fujii “A KA RI”

This book took almost a year until it reached Europe, but now it leaves a strong impression on those who have had already the opportunity to see it. Recently Markus my local photo book dealer told me that this book is doing very well and just yesterday a friend from France praised the quality of the photographs published in “A KA RI” by Tamotsu Fujii.Most will not have heard the name of the photographer before, since his work is rarely exhibited or published outside Japan. However in Japan Tamotsu Fujii is well known as a commercial photographer who did advertising photography for major companies like JR East (Japan Railway) or Suntory. Fujii won amongst others the ACC (All Japan Radio and Television Commercial Confederation) Award, Japan’s most prestigious advertising award for commercials, and in 2003 he received the Tokyo Art Directors Club (ACC) award for his Muji campain.

Tamotsu Fujii: Muji advertisement
Tamotsu Fujii for Muji
[I have only seen the Muji poster on the web yet, but if someone has one left over at home, don’t hesitate to send it to me :-).]
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Aoi Sora “Polgasun”

Last fall the publisher of the bilingual magazine European Photography asked me to write a short review on the book Aoisora Polgasun by Aoi Sora. At that time I had never heard the name of the photographer and a short search on the web revealed that Aoi Sora is not a photographer by profession, but a Japanese idol and porn star, who made a series of self portraits on request of the publisher PowerShovelBooks, a publisher who is involved in Lomo photography.

Polgasun, 2005

5 Japanese popular idols are asked to take self-portrait. They are given more than 50 films and few days for it. They are asked to take the cameras with them all the time, anywhere they go and anywhere they are. As if the cameras are their boyfriends or undetestable stalkers. The girls are Nao Oikawa, Aki Hoshino, Rei Ito, Kyouko Nakashima and Sora Aoi. Their mission is to keep on popping shutters until they get sick of doing it.[…]

(Later) we asked Sora to take pictures continuously. We were desperate to see more photographs she takes. Sora was kind and curious enough to take photographs with many cameras we provided, such as BabyHolga, Babylon4, Holga and GR. Most of the photographs taken by Sora with those cameras were very interesting. However, her photographs have been completely changed since she started using POLGA. (You know, POLGA is Holga Polaroid holder for Holga.)
[Quote: Hideki Ohmori/ PowerShovelBooks]

Polagsun, 2005
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Naoya Hatakeyama at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo

In 2003 the “Regionale 2004” a project by North Rhine-Westphalia (a federal state in West Germany) commissioned Naoya Hatakeyama to document the defunct coal mine “Zeche Westfalen I/II Ahlen”.

Naoya Hatakeyama: Zeche Westfalen I/II Ahlen

From October 2003 to February 2004 Hatakeyama photographed the sites and structures that were home to tens of thousands of workers for over a century. The series, which I have not seen yet, neither on the wall nor in the book with the same name published just recently by Nazraeli Press, is on display at Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo.

It seems that Hatakeyam kind of returned with the following series to a topic with which he ‘blasted’ into the Japanese photo scene in 1995, literally.
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Hiroh Kikai: A performer of butoh dance

Hiroh Kikai “Persona”

Does anybody know Hiroh Kikai?

I had never heard of him until I saw his book “Persona” last year. The photobook “Persona” contains portraits of people from Asakusa/ Tokyo, whom Hiroh Kikai photographed for three decades since 1973.

“Persona”, published in 2003, is a large format book and the black and white portraits of people from Asakusa are printed in quadtone in striking quality. The book won the 23rd Domon Ken Award and the 2004 Annual Award of the Photographic Society of Japan. Unfortunately, it is sold out and it took me some time to find it in Tokyo. A new, smaller version of the photo book was published last autumn.


Today Asakusa is best known for its Senjoji Temple, a temple famous for Tokyo’s biggest festival taking place late spring every year, while in the first half of the 20th century Asakusa was the major entertainment district of Tokyo.[1]A very vivid description of the bustling live of Asakusa in the 1920th can be found in Yasunari Kawabata’s novel The Scarlet Gang Of Asakusa.
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1 A very vivid description of the bustling live of Asakusa in the 1920th can be found in Yasunari Kawabata’s novel The Scarlet Gang Of Asakusa.