KUWABARA Shisei 桑原 史成 (1936.10.7-) Shimane Pref. Documentary photographer noted for photos of Minamata mercury poisoning patients. His work inspired W. Eugene Smith to go to Minamata in 1971 where he produced his famous photos published in Life magazine.
Major themes Minamata mercury poisoning patients, Korea, Russia
Education Graduated from Tokyo Agricultural Univ. and photo school, 1960
Career After graduating from college, turned freelance photographer, and visited Minamata, Kumamoto Pref. four months later in July, aspiring to become a press photographer.
With a letter of introduction from a Shukan Asahi magazine writer, he approached the director of the Minamata City Hospital who gave permission to photograph patients. The hospital later gave Kuwabara an unprecedented long-term permission to photograph patients. This big break allowed him to become famous for his photos of Minamata victims.
His photo book on Minamata Disease patients inspired W. Eugene Smith to go to Minamata in 1971. Smith's Minamata photos published in Life magazine in 1972 brought world attention to the small fishing village.
Kuwabara also photographed in Korea and Russia. Active in the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS), especially for copyright protection for photographers.
The SHISEI KUWABARA PHOTOGRAPHICS MUSEUM in Tsuwano, Shimane Pref. is dedicated to exhibiting his photos.
Awards Newcomer Prize, Japan Photo Critics Association, 1970 for "Minamata" exhibition; Kodansha Photo Award, 1965; Award of the Year, Photographic Society of Japan, 1971 for photo book "Minamata 1960-1970." Ina Nobuo Award, 1982.