Book: Japanese Photo History Summary

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Book review of Japanese Photo History Summary book. Editors: NAGANO Shigeichi, IIZAWA Kohtaro 長野重一、飯沢耕太郎

Japanese Photo History Summary - 日本写真史概説

Reviewed on: Apr. 22, 2000 Last modified: 2005-04-03

Excellent introduction to Japanese photography history.


Published: Nov. 17, 1999 Publisher: Iwanami Shoten ISBN: 4000083813 Price in Japan: ¥3,570 Qualities: Hard cover, B/W photos Size: B4, 172 pp. Language: Japanese

This is the last book capping a series of 40 books by publisher Iwanami Shoten introducing 40 important Japanese photographers (one book per photographer). (See review below.)Written by Kohtaro Iizawa, Japan's foremost and prolific photo critic, the text is very readable and not too scholarly. It covers all the significant events, movements, trends, and photographers in Japan's 150-year history of photography. The text is sprinkled with good photographs, and the historical account is up-to-date (up to 1998). It even mentions the recent and ongoing phenomenon of teenage girls taking pictures and Nobuyoshi Araki's recent activities.

The book also has an excellent appendix centering on a good chronology of Japanese photography history from 1848 to 1998. It also has an annotated list of all the Japanese photo magazines (with a few cover images) that have ever been published. It includes those that have ceased publication. Then there is a list of all the recipients of major photography awards in Japan (up to 1999). Excellent source for learning about Japan's photography history. (Reviewed by Philbert Ono)

Japan's Photographers - 日本の写真家

Reviewed on: May 27, 1998 Last modified: 2005-04-03

A series of 40 books on individual Japanese photographers spanning throughout the history of Japanese photography.


Published: From Sept. 1997 Publisher: Iwanami Shoten ISBN: Varies Price in Japan: ¥2,415 Qualities: Hard cover, b/w photos Size: B5, 71 pp. Language: Japanese

This is a series of forty books which attempts to convey the history of Japanese photography from the late 19th century to the present day. Volume 1 covers UENO Hikoma and other pioneering Japanese photographers in the late 19th century. Each subsequent volume features a different Japanese photographer who supposed to represent a period in Japanese photographic history.

Rather than publishing all forty books at the same time, they are being issued in monthly installments. When the series started on September 1997, five volumes were published. Two volumes have been published each month since then. At this rate, all forty books will be out by March 1999. Although the books are numbered from 1 to 40, they are not being published in this order. This means you cannot read about Japanese photography history in chronological order as the books come out.

I believe all the books contain only black-and-white photographs. The printing quality is high but the books are too thin. The total thickness of the book's front and back hard covers is about the same as the thickness of the pages in-between. A soft cover would have sufficed. I would like to have seen more pages and more photos in each book. It really does not do the photographer justice to show so few photos. The book's price is not high, but I can't say that the book is worth the money. Nevertheless, the books are an excellent basic introduction to some of the most famous photographers and images in Japanese photography. Unfortunately, there is no English.

Pictured above is Book 32 which features Eikoh Hosoe. A photo of Yukio Mishima holding a rose is pictured on the cover. Besides photos, there is a preface introducing Hosoe, and the back of the book gives the titles of the photographs. There is also a written interview on Hosoe.

This series of books was the brainchild of Kohtaro Iizawa who is also one of the editors of the series. His original proposal was to have a series of 50 to 60 books. However, the publisher deemed that some of the books would not sell well enough. Iizawa's proposal was reduced to 40 books.

The series feature the following photographers (in the order of the book No.): UENO Hikoma (No. 1), TAMOTO Kenzo (No. 2), FUKUHARA Shinzo (no. 3), NOJIMA Yasuzo (No. 4), TAKAYAMA Masataka (No. 5), Manchuria Photographers (No. 6), NAKAYAMA Iwata (No. 7), KIMURA Ihee (No. 8), YASUI Nakaji (No. 9), IRIE Taikichi (No. 10), TABUCHI Yukio (No. 11), HORINO Masao (No. 12), WATANABE Yoshio (No. 13), KAGEYAMA Koyo (No. 14), KOISHI Kiyoshi (No. 15), DOMON Ken (No. 16), KUMAYA Gen'ichi (No. 17), NATORI Yonosuke (No. 18), KUWABARA Kineo (No. 19), UEDA Shoji (No. 20), HAMAYA Hiroshi (No. 21), MIDORIKAWA Yoichi (No. 22), YAMAHATA Yosuke (No. 23), CHIBA (No. 24), HAYASHI Tadahiko (No. 25), ISHIMOTO Yasuhiro (No. 26), HAGA Hideo (No. 27), NAGANO Shigeichi (No. 28), TANUMA Takeyoshi (No. 29), TOMATSU Shomei (No. 30), NARAHARA Ikko (No. 31), HOSOE Eikoh (No. 32), KAWATA Kikuji (No. 33), FUKASE Masahisa (No. 34), TAKANASHI Yutaka (No. 35), NAKAHIRA (No. 36), MORIYAMA Daido (No. 37), NAITO Masatoshi (No. 38), YAMADA (No. 39), SUDA Issei (No. 40).

(Reviewed by Philbert Ono)