Japan Underground

A few weeks after reading the interview with Joe Nishizawa in Pingmag about his book “Deep Inside” I ordered the book at Amazon.jp. When the book arrived I was surprised to get a completely different book from the seller and I realized that I had mixed up the titles of the books “Deep Inside” by Joe Nishizawa and “Japan Underground” by Hideaki Uchiyama.

Both books deal with the vast and complex underground constructions which provide essential life lines and life support for Japanese mega cities like Tokyo or Osaka. And it seems that this topic is of great interest for Japanese photographers as well as for the Japanese audience. Hideaki Uchiyama already published three volumes of “Japan Underground” (2000, 2003 and 2005) and his first volume was reprinted last year, and Nishizawa’s book created a remarkable buzz in the (international) blogsphere due to the interview in Pingmag. But the best known series about this topic is from a third photographer, Naoya Hatakeyama, who published his series “Underground” in 2000, the year when Nishizawa published his first volume.

Naoya Hatakeyama: “Underground”

Naoya Hatakeyama

I look around but my sight is completely shut out. No light stimulus. My eyes are open but seem closed. Yet my eyeballs keep moving, trying harder to look and see and see, in vain. […]
I go down to the stream of central Tokyo, surrounded by concrete. This is a humanless world. Only five meters below the ground, it seems to me light-years away. […]

Naoya Hatakeyama: «Underground», 2003

The mold that grows in a limestone cave hundreds of kilometers away from Tokoy grew, too, in the underground darkness upstream of this river. Is it still there, I wonder? Reflecting my light, it shined like glassware. But it remains unaware of how beautiful it is.
Quote: Naoyama Hatakeyama, “Underground”

Hideaki Uchiyama: “Japan Underground”

Hideaki Uchiyama

Fascinated by its demonish world of underground facilities, I have visited more then 150 underground facilities in 10 years. It originally was a part of my lifework project, futuristic metropolis in Tokyo, but it eventually grew into a separate theme.
The only thing I had in my mind was how I could realize the vivid feeling of underground and its erotic mood. […]

Hideaki Uchiyama: «Japan Underground», 2000

The underground unfolded before my eyes was not even close to pastoral and closed place but vast sci-fi like surreal space. I will never forget my astonishment when I saw the gigantic space looked like underground city stretched out like cobwebs in closed deep underground. It appeared to me to be an enormous brain itself. The ground is only the surface of the world and the essence of civilization actually existed underground. It was another unknown aspect of real form of the universe.
Quote: Hideaki Uchiyama at Nikon Web Gallery

Joe Nishizawa: “Deep Inside”

Joe Nishizawa

I was involved with an open-public event called Tokyo Geo-Site Project. They opened the construction sites of the Hibiya Joint Utility Tunnel for several days to public. It is placed in the middle of just an ordinary park-like field, but opening a thin door, you get to experience a totally different futuristic world. Strongly attached to such extraordinary spaces in these no-go areas, the book Deep Inside evolved and compiles such photographs of different dimensions in Japan. […]

Joe Nishizawa

I also want people to know that such a superb top-of-the world technology exists in Japan. These enormous objects and constructions are almost sealed, locked up as a restricted area which ordinary people like us have no access to. Chances to ever get a glimpse of it are so rare, that I almost consider it as my duty to make full use of photography as a medium to visually introduce the countrys pride in technologies to people – not only internationally, but simply to Japanese citizens, who have no idea of what lies beneath their feet.
Quote: Joe Nishizawa at Pingmag

Joe Nishizawa

Recommended books:
Naoya Hatakeyama: Underground
Hideaki Uchiyama: Japan Underground (Vol. 1)
Joe Nishizawa: Deep Inside

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