Short Cuts 12 – The Japan Edition

Short Cuts 12 – The Japan Edition presents 4 new photobooks from Japan. It starts with Mikiko Hara and ends with Hiroh Kikai.

Masataka Matsutoya & Taeko Ohnuki – 荒涼 Kōryō Desolation (Endless Flight, 1977)

(1) Mikiko Hara: Kyrie (Photopaper 44|45)

I cannot see the dreams of the person who is gone
After all, I never dream myself
Maybe I saw them, but I forgot
The person who is gone dreamt often
Green evening light, a misplaced bag, a bookstore on a bright evening,
the last station of an aerial lift, being chased by a soldier carrying a machine gun,
the shallows of a river or ocean on a summer day, a snake-like fish climbing
up a rock, a person coming down from a skylight, rain coming
down in sheets, a mother without a face …
They often told me of their dreams
Then they were gone
I cannot see the dreams of the person who is gone

Mikiko Hara

Publisher: Photopaper

Mikiko Hara was born in Toyama in 1967. She graduated from Keio University in 1990 with a degree in literature and then studied at the Tokyo College of Photography. In 2017, she received the Kimura Ihei Photography Award.

She has had several international solo exhibitions and published books including Hysteric Thirteen (Tokyo, Hysteric Glamour, 2005), These Are Days (Tokyo, Osiris, 2014), and Change (New York, The Gould Collection, 2016).


(2) Issei Suda: 78 (Chose Commune, 2020)

The story behind 78 tells of a promise kept after the passing of the Japanese master of photography Issei Suda, to publish a book with an original approach. Although the project originated in January 2019, 78 presents a selection of unseen photographs selected from the Suda archive in November 2019. Shot between 1971 and 1983, these photographs have never been published until this day.

From Tokyo to its surrounding prefectures, the photographer’s striking world is immersed in urban energy, bringing out – with a hint of humour – its spirit. The same energy can also be found in Suda’s trademark deep and contrasted blacks, a unique hallmark of his work.

Publisher’s Info

Publisher: Chose Commune

Issei Suda was a Japanese photographer who born in Tokyo in 1940. From 1967 to 1970 he worked as the cameraman of the theatrical group Tenjo Sajiki, under Shuji Terayama.

He worked as a freelance photographer from 1971. His first photobook, Fūshi kaden, was named after a treatise by Zeami Motokiyo; it won a Photographic Society of Japan newcomer’s award in 1976. His fourth photobook, Ningen no kioku, won the Domon Ken Award in 2014.

Suda was a professor at Osaka University of Arts. He died at the age of 78 on 7 March 2019.


Video: Issei Suda on the drama of photography (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

(3) Yukinori Tokoro: Einstein Romance Color (Sokyusha, 2019)

Yukinori Tokoro’s photobook Einstein Romance Color engages the relativity of time in a traveling Shinkasen train. Shooting with a slow shutter speed, his streaky, magical-seeming images divide the passage of time along the parallax of objects flashing by his window – far objects still and clear, nearer objects blurred to the point of being unrecognizable. There is a strange beauty in Tokoro’s abstract visual metaphor, one that cannot be replicated in any other medium but photography.

Publisher’s Info

Publisher: Sokyusha

Yukinori Tokoro (* 1961) is Visiting Professor of Photography at the Osaka University of the Arts.


(4) Hiroh Kikai: PERSONA: The Final Chapter 2005-2018 (Chikumashobo, 2020)

For more than 40 years, Japanese photographer Hiroh Kikai has taken the portraits of passersby near the Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district. Titled “Persona”, his portraits are a masterclass in character study.

In front of the same, simple backdrop, the people Kikai selects for his portraits reveal through subtle hints – their pose, their gaze, their belongings – the wealth of their personalities.

Publisher’s Info

Publisher: Chikumashobo

Hiroh Kikai was born in 1945 in Yamagata, Japan.

He is best known for his Asakusa Portraits series, in which he documents individuals encountered in the Asakusa district in Tokyo, historically known as a center for popular entertainment. Begun over forty years ago in 1973 and taken with a handheld, square format Hasselblad, Kikai’s black and white street portraits powerfully depict the individual essence of each of his subjects.

A parallel body of work, Tokyo Labyrinth, explores the landscape of the city without the presence of its inhabitants. Using the same camera, and created during a similar period of time, Kikai sees these series as being inextricably bound together. 


Tags: ⇒ Short Cuts; ⇒ Japanese photographer