Yutaka Takanashi: Toshi-e (Towards the City): Books on Books #6 (Errata Editions, 2010)

Yutaka Takanashi was born 1935 in Shirogane-cho, Ushigome-ku (today Shinjuku, Tokyo). Study of photography at Nihon University. First works published in Sankei Camera. Darkroom assistant of the photographer Osamu Yagi. 1959-61 Kuwasa Design School. Professional photographer at Nippon Design Center, various awards for his advertising work. Meanwhile personal, non-commercial projects.

1968 founding of the photo magazine Provoke along with Takuma Nakahira, Takahiko Okada, Koji Taki. 1974 first book Toshi-e (Towards the City) which is regarded as a masterpiece of the Provoke era. Working both in black and white and color, his fascination with the spaces and people in urban environments continues in later books like MachiTokyo-jin 1978-1983 or Miyako no Kao. 1980 assistant professor, 1982-2000 professor at Tokyo Zokei University of Art and Design. He lives and works in Tokyo ( Galerie Priska Pasquer).

More Articles:

(1)  Ferdinand Brueggemann in: Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City (including a short history of the “Provoke” era), Part I; Japan-Photo.info; 18.04.2013.

(2) Russet Lederman in: Provoke: Takuma Nakahira and Yutaka Takanashi; Monsters & Madonnas – The ICP Library Blog; 24.08.2012.

Yutaka Takanashi’s Toshi-e (Towards the City) is a landmark two-volume set of books from one one of the founders of the avant-garde Japanese magazine Provoke.

Published in 1974 and considered the most luxurious of all of the Provoke era publications, its brooding, pessimistic tone describes the state of contemporary life in an unnamed city in Japan undergoing economic and industrial change.

Books on Books 6 reproduces all one hundred sixteen black and white photographs that make up the two volumes. Photographer, writer and book historian Gerry Badger, contributes an essay called Image of the City – Yutaka Takanashi’s Toshi-e.

Publisher’s Info


Yutaka Takanashi has always photographed the city – close up, far away, even very far away, from a moving car – sometimes on the lookout for an image charged with poetry, sometimes ‘picking up’ a scrap of reality. As he has often repeated, these two approaches confront one another in his work: poetry/realism, mirror/window, visible/invisible. The important thing for him is to make his way over the terrain, to ‘walk on the ground’ in order to make ‘anonymous pictures’.

Toshi-e (Towards the city), his first major book in black and white, marked the end of Provoke, but also the photographer’s distanced stance, for he managed to assert his own style by not giving in to the siren songs of the moment, but rather, absorbing them. His two-level approach to the city, from a distance in the beginning, and then very close up, with human figures, was extremely original: at the time, Tokyo was in the throes of an industrial transformation which changed frame of reference and undermined certainties. Takanashi set out in search of the invisible, a different poetics in unlikely urban spaces.

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

Publisher: Errata Editions