Book: Japanese Photography Guide

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Book review of Japanese Photography Guide. Addresses and phone numbers of Japanese photography museums, galleries, photographers, schools, and more. Reviewed on: Aug. 12, 1996 Last modified: 2005-04-03

Published: Oct. 1996 Publisher: Nazraeli Press ISBN: 3-923922-34-5 Price in Japan: ¥2,000 ($20) Qualities: Soft cover, no photos Size: A5, 81 pp. Language: English, Editors: Osam Hiraki, Maya Ishiwata

This is probably the first book of its kind in English. In the Preface and Introduction, it states the same goals as PhotoGuide Japan: to help overseas people understand Japanese photography better. (I saw this book shortly after PhotoGuide Japan first went online in early 1997 and I had no connection with this book.)

Compared to nothing, it's a great book. However, there is a lot more information that I wish they included. For example, the list of Japanese photographers has only the photographer's address, phone number, and the institutions which possess collections. There is no biographical information, not even a birthdate.

For the list of photo galleries, it would be nice to include the closest train/subway station and other directions. Providing maps would also be very helpful. Under Festivals/Symposiums, there are only 4 entries. The book also does not mention any of the camera shows and trade shows held in Japan. At any rate, this is a good first attempt at such a book.

This book was not meant for the masses. It seems to be more for people in photography circles (curators, critics, etc.). The focus seems to be contact addresses and phone numbers.

There are several things which the book has but PhotoGuide Japan doesn't:

  • The addresses and phone numbers of Japanese photographers.
  • The addresses and phone numbers of photo critics, publicists, scholars, and coordinators.
  • An excellent list of book publishers.

If you're interested in Japanese photography, this is one book you should get, although it is quite outdated six years later in 2002. Galleries have closed, photographers have passed away, and phone numbers and addresses have changed. I hope they will publish a new edition as they did with their USA and European Photography Guides which are much thicker. (Reviewed by Philbert Ono)