Eikoh Hosoe: Kamaitachi 8, 1965

Some recent activties

It’s over a year that I have written at Japan-Photo.info. But is it not because I lost interest in Japanese photography, on the contrary, I was so much involved in Japanese photography, that there wasn’t much time nor thoughts left for the blog, unfortunately.

Eikoh Hosoe: Kamaitachi 8, 1965

Some time ago I became director of Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne, where I am responsible for the program of Japanese photography. Already in the years before we had some solo shows with Japanese artists at the gallery: Iwao Yamawaki (Modern photography), Eikoh Hosoe (his first solo show in Germany), Daido Moriyama and Rinko Kawauchi. In the beginning, we did not receive much response, but this changed very much in the recent years because Western curators and private collectors alike became more and more aware of the history of Japanese photography and of the quality of the works coming from Japan.

Osamu Shiihara: Untitled, end 1930s

In the last 12 month our gallery intensified the program in regard to Japanese photography with a series of shows: Rinko Kawauchi “Utatane” produced by our partner Antoine de Vilmorin in Paris; the group show ‘Review / Preview: Japanese photographs by Osamu Shiihara, Shomei Tomatsu, Daido Moriyama, Nobuyoshi Araki, Issei Suda, Asako Narahashi, Rinko Kawauchi and Mika Ninagawa; a solo show with Asako Narahashi’s great series “half awake and half asleep in the water”; the first solo show since many years in the West of Issei Suda’s in my opinion still undervalued photographs and lastly the overwhelmingly colorful works by Mika Ninagawa.

Issei Suda: Kanda Tokyo, from the series: Fushi Kaden, 1975

In general 2008 was truly a marvelous year for Japanese photography, with exhibitions like Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan at the International Center of Photography (ICP)I would have loved to see the show since it included several very interesting photographers, albeit the catalogue is not so convincing, see for example a review of the New York Times., with artists like Hiroh Kikai, – a year which finally culminated in the fair Paris Paris 2008 with Japan as guest of honour. Never before so many Japanese photo galleries exhibited outside their home country and I presume that the number of works exhibited at the fair set a new record outside Japan as well.

Mika Ninagawa: Liquid Dreams, 2003

We had an exciting time at the Paris Photo fair with the presentation of our Japanese program and during the fair I had the pleasure to participate in a conference on Japanese photography together with Etsurô Ishihara, founder of Zeit Foto Salon (Tokyo) and Anne Wilkes Tucker, curator for photography, Houston Museum of Fine Arts and author of  The History of Japanese Photography. The talk was moderated by Mariko Takeuchi, guest curator of Paris Photo, who by the way wrote a very good essay on “Photography in Japan” on occasion of the fair.

Asako Narahashi: Mekari, 2004, from the series: half awake and half asleep in the water

Besides doing shows and art fairs I published some articles on Japanese photography: On contemporary Japanese photography books (Experiment und Spiel. Anmerkungen zu japanischen Fotobüchern der Gegenwart) for a special edition on photo books by the German magazine Photonews (on request available at Schaden.com). I did an interview for Foam magazine (#17) with the Mariko Takeuchi on contemporary Japanese photography and last month I published an essay on Issei Suda in Photonews (issue Feb. 09, in German language). In addition to the conference at Paris Photo I did some other talks on Japanese photography, most interesting and funny was a talk for journalists with Nobuyoshi Araki at the opening of the Araki’s “Kinbaku” exhibition at Jablonka Galerie, Berlin.

Yasuzo Nojima: Untitled, 1932

Looking back at the last decade it is really amazing how differently Japanese photography is regarded today. I still remember well the situation when I went to Japan as a research fellow on Modern Japanese photography. At the end of the 1990s, only a fraction of today’s English sources on Japanese photography was available and the history of Japanese photography was almost completely unknown outside Japan. At that time I had to spend months in museum archives and libraries to learn the basics about the Japanese photography of the 1920s and early 1930s. And as I wrote before this was the time when I came in contact with more recent Japanese photography. But during my lengthy stay in Japan and even 5-6 years later when I started this blog I did not anticipate at all that I would be involved in so many exhibitions on Japanese artists…

PS: I have just added a page with my writings and lectures on Japanese photography.


  1. Congratulations with this job, I will visit Koln this spring.
    Website back in business is fantastic though/even better I think. I’m hanging on your lips on this subject, for I’ve found it hard to find (extremely) well-informed English access to the richness of Japanese photography. Thank you for your renewed efforts!!



  2. Hi J.,
    thanks for the kind words.
    I had neglected my blog for too long and it was hacked 10 days ago. It took several long evenings to have it working again, but it seems that the blog design is not secure anymore and I might be forced to change the design…

    In regard to writing again, currently I have some requests for texts on Japanese photography, but I hope to write some shorter pieces here in the blog now and then.



  3. Ferdinand!
    You know how many times I’ve looked at your listing in my RSS reader and thought, I guess it’s time to delete that feed? Boy, I’m glad I held out hope you’d come back to the blogging fold. Didn’t think for a second your lack of updates meant a falling out with J photography, but I’m still amazed at how much deeper you seem to have fallen in, in the last year. Hope you get the blog/platform issues sorted out so you’ll have no excuses to stay away from giving us all the European angle on Japanese photography.



  4. Hope that learnt or found some Japan photography histories in Taiwan (formosa) during the periods of ex 1895 to 1945.

    Japan was admited the sea island ex 1895 to 1945, some Japan
    photographers were moved to Taiwan (Formosa) to build up photo
    shops, studied, snap, ….

    But now the Japan photograhpy history in this periods were not easy to dig out, only several Japanese photographers ????, ????, ????. ??? were known.

    Dig out more Japan photography histories in Formosa (Taiwan) ex 1895-1945 if possible. please : )


  5. hi, it’s great to have our western eyes usually/often wide shut on anything outside the geographical term west actually wide opened.
    i understand from my short time receiving your news that the prime interest of japanese photographers is to publish their work in books, rather than having exhibitions. does this also mean that there is an abundant scene of willing and affordable photo book publishers out there and if this is the case, would you ever think of dropping some information on this?


  6. soooooo glad you’re back … my first experience with japanese photography was Eikoh Hosoe some 25 years ago! and you where the one to introduce me to Rinko Kawauchi quite some months ago. I went to your site so often but realised that you were no longer updating it, but through another site today Digitalarte in London I clicked a link and presto ‘you’re back in business!’ please keep the site up.


  7. Just like other readers I’m thrilled to see you back. I’ve been delving in the world of Japanese photography for very little time (not that I’m a bandwagon jumper, I’m just not old enough) but as a photographer I can only acknowledge and be amazed by the immense quality and singularity of what I’ve seen so far (most of it in a place you probably know, the specialised library of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris).
    I just wished most of what you’ve written was in English!
    Thanks a lot for spreading your knowledge anyhow.


  8. @Michael Snoek maybe already in y’r list, but:
    photo publications in general : check 5b4.blogspot.com)
    and more region specific; japanexposures.com from Kurt (here above)(wonderfull work btw, Kurt, keep it up!)


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