PhotoHistory 2002

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Researched & compiled by Philbert Ono

On Jan. 5, DOMON Tami, wife of the late photographer DOMON Ken, passed away due to heart failure. She had served as the director of the Ken Domon Museum of Photography in Sakata, Yamagata.

From Jan. 19 to Mar. 24, MORI Mariko holds a major exhibition titled "Pyramid" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. It was her first solo exhibition at a major public museum in Japan. Her works were multimedia with a religious theme including the "Dream Temple" where visitors could enter one at a time to see a digital film.

On Jan. 26, a memorial service was held in Shinjuku, Tokyo in memory of SEKINE Shiro (関根史朗)and Lee Su Hyon who both died one year ago this day at Shin-Okubo Station on the Japan Railways Yamanote Line in Tokyo. They tried to rescue a drunken man who fell off the train platform and onto the tracks, but all three were killed by an oncoming train that could not stop in time. Lee was a 26-year-old student from South Korea and SEKINE Shiro was a 47-year-old photographer. From Jan 29 to Feb. 3, a memorial photo exhibition was held in Seoul and Pusan in South Korea in memory of SEKINE Shiro. Some 20 photos of alpine landscapes and flowers taken by Sekine were exhibited.

From Feb. 8 to May 6, the huge JAM:Tokyo-London exhibition featuring 43 artists working in fashion, graphic design, photography, fine art and music was held at Tokyo Opera City. The show was based on Tokyo and London street cultures. The photographers included NAGASHIMA Yurie, HOMMA Takashi, and SANAI Masafumi.

Esquire The March issue of Esquire magazine (Japanese edition) devoted a large section on photography with photos by upcoming Japanese photographers and articles about photography.

On March 15, The Photographic Society of Japan finally opens its own Web site at (in Japanese only).

The Photo Expo held on March 22-24 saw 81,500 visitors over the three-day period at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward, Tokyo. About 0.6% more than last year. New and upcoming digital SLR cameras (such as the Nikon D100 and Canon D60) garnered the most attention. 2002 would also be the last year for the Japan Camera Show to be held in Osaka. From 2003, only Tokyo will host the annual trade show.

At the end of March, the Minolta Photo Space galleries in Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sendai were closed. Minolta's photo space galleries in Tokyo and Osaka remained.

On Mar. 31, Olympus Optical, Co., discontinued sales of its once-venerated, OM-series 35mm SLR camera. It will continue to sell lenses and accessories until March 2003 and spare parts for 10 years.

At the end of March, Fuji Photo Film closed five service centers in Japan. They were in Niigata, Shizuoka, Kanazawa, Takamatsu, and Kagoshima.

The April issue of Bijutsu Techo (美術手帖) featured a major section on Japanese photography titled "my photography, my life," with photos and text introducing KAWAUCHI Rinko, NAGASHIMA Yurie, SANAI Masafumi and a few other Japanese photographers.

On April 12-24, the Japan Stage Performance Photographers Association(日本舞台写真家協会)received the honor of being the first to exhibit at the newly opened and refurbished Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No. 1 Bldg. Titled "Light On," the photo exhibition showed over 200 pictures (printed with a large-format Canon BJ printer) of plays, ballet, concerts, and other performing arts. Web page here.

While an alarming number of photo galleries have been closing in Japan in recent years, three photo galleries in Tokyo have expanded their exhibition spaces. First there was Zeit Photo Salon who moved from their tiny space in Nihonbashi to bigger digs (total wall length of 24.7 meters) in neighboring Kyobashi, behind the Bridgestone Art Museum. It reopened on April 20.

Meanwhile, Konica Plaza in Shinjuku shut down for one month to totally renovate their premises. It reopened on May 13 to boast three adjacent photo galleries called Gallery A, B, and C (total wall length of 25, 26, and 35 meters respectively). It used to have two galleries, so the third gallery enables the gallery to host more exhibitions, about 100 a year.

On June 3, the Ginza Kodak Photo Salon reopened at new quarters near Sukibayashi Hankyu Dept. Store. It now has two galleries instead of one, as well as a digital equipment showroom and seminar room.

In May, the Minolta Dimage X digital camera with 1.96 effective megapixels is marketed. Its unique, vertical zoom lens system makes it the world's slimmest (20 mm thick) and lightest (135 g excluding recording media and battery) 3x zoom digital camera. Even during zooming, the lens does not protrude at all from the already super slim body. The zooming instead takes place vertically inside the camera body. The retail price is 72,000 yen.

The annual Month of Photography, Tokyo was held from late May to June. The usual exhibitions, slide lectures, and award ceremonies were held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and other venues. The Photographic Society of Japan, the organizer, awarded its annual International Award to Fosco Maraini, an Italian born in 1912. He was cited for his fine-art photos (subjects included Hokkaido's Ainu) and efforts to strengthen ties between Japan and Italy over 60 years.

In Osaka, the 1st Month of Photography, Osaka was held from late May to June. Photo exhibitions were held simultaneously by galleries in the Umeda area during the week centering on June 1. A "1000-Person Photo Exhibition" was also held at Osaka City Air Terminal (OCAT) in Namba. The event was organized by a committee consisting of photo/art schools, galleries, and camera clubs in Osaka and Kyoto.

By the end of May, mobile phone company J-Phone had sold over 5 million cell phones having a built-in camera for its "Sha-Mail" service that started in June 2001. This was an increase of 1 million since the end of March 2002 when 4 million J-Phone handsets were sold. In March, the company introduced its "Movie Sha-Mail" service that enables 5-sec. movie clips (with audio) to be taken and sent with Movie Sha-Mail cell phones. "Sha" is an abbreviation for the word "Shashin" which means photograph.

ishot On June 1, mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo launched its new "i-shot" service with cell phones having a built-in digital camera. The user can take a picture with the cell phone and send it to another user as an email attachment. The photo is viewable on the cell phone's LCD screen (or on a computer) which also serves as the camera's viewfinder. DoCoMo's SH251i cell phone (clam shell type) is equipped with a 310,000-pixel CCD, picture light to illuminate low-light subjects, and a viewfinder display separate from the main screen. It costs 10 yen to transmit one image via i-shot. Cell phones with a built-in camera have proved to be a major hit in Japan ever since J-Phone created the market in June 2001.

On June 8, Nikon put on sale a black version.of the resurrected, classic Nikon S3 rangefinder camera. A limited edition of 2,000 units would be sold at a price of 530,000 yen each. The camera comes with a Nikkor S 50mm f/1.4 lens and camera case.

The era (or battle) of 6-megapixel, mid-range, digital SLR cameras began with the Canon D60 (350,000 yen) marketed in March and the Nikon D100 (300,000 yen) marketed in June.

In June, the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament was jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan. The majority of sports photographers covering the event used digital cameras. This was a huge leap from the previous World Cup in 1998 in France where only a small minority of photographers used digital equipment. Even at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, only about 20 percent of the photographers used digital camera. Now, just about all the major wire services and newspapers had their photographers use digital cameras. At the World Cup, the Canon EOS-1D and Nikon D1 were the digital cameras of choice. And thanks to a high-speed wireless network set up at the soccer stadiums, the photographers could transmit their images during the games via a laptop computer which accompanied their camera equipment.

World Cup in Yokohama Incidentally, during the film age, most Japanese sports photographers used Canon and most news photographers use Nikon in the film world. However, in the digital world, Nikon's early lead with their D1-series cameras has encroached Canon's traditional turf. Now it looks like 50-50 between Canon and Nikon in digital sports photography in Japan.

On May 31, the first day of the World Cup finals, KDDI Corp. in Japan and SK Telecom in South Korea launched a photo-exchange service to enable their cell phone customers to send photos taken with their cell phones to cell phone customers in the other country. It was the world's first international, photo-exchange cell phone service. KDDI charged 17 yen per image sent to South Korea.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan from US control, a string of photography events were held in Okinawa from May to Oct. The highlights were in July when TOMATSU Shomei, MORIYAMA Daido, ARAKI Nobuyoshi, and NAKAHIRA Takuma visited Okinawa for TOMATSU Shomei's photo exhibition titled "Okinawa Mandala" at the Urasoe Art Museum, the "Photonesia" group exhibition in Naha, a photo symposium, and the "Workshop 2002 in Okinawa."

Holland-based Hotei Publishing, a respected publisher of Japan-related books, regretfully goes bankrupt. They had just started a new magazine called Japan. Fortunately, in June, Hotei was taken over by the publishing branch of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) KIT Publishers, based in Amsterdam.

On June 3, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the Ken Domon Museum of Photography (土門券記念館 )in Sakata, Yamagata. They viewed about 140 photos of temples, Buddhist statues, children of the defunct Chikuho coal mine, and other noted works by the late Domon.

On June 28, Canon closed five repair centers in Japan. They were in Shizuoka, Kyoto, Okayama, Niigata, and Kanazawa.

At the end of June and July 2002, Nikon closed seven camera repair centers in Japan. They were in Omiya, Shizuoka, Okayama, Takamatsu, Kagoshima, Niigata, and Kanazawa. The Tokyo repair center took over the customers in these cities.

On July 22, mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo announced that it would refund a total of 40 million yen to users of its "i-shot" service that enables photos to be taken and transmitted with i-shot cell phones having a built-in camera. It was found that users were charged for failed photo transmissions between June 1, 2002, when the i-shot service first began, and July 17, 2002. The failed photo transmissions were due to a glitch with DoCoMo's i-shot server which has been fixed.

In July, German publisher Taschen publishes a giant photo book featuring the retrospective works (about 1,000 photos) of Nobuyoshi Araki. Weighing in at 13 kg and measuring 34.5 x 50 cm (13.4 x 19.7 in.) with 636 pages, it is by far the largest and most expensive book (200,000 yen or USD1,750) by Araki. A limited edition of 2,500 copies worldwide (250 copies alloted to Japan), all signed by Araki, were printed. For details, see Taschen's Web page.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of normalized Japan-China diplomatic relations, a photo exhibition titled "Japan-China = People & Nature" was held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography during Aug. 6-11. Seventy photos by Japanese photographers and 70 photos by Chinese photographers were exhibited. The photos showed people's daily lives and landscapes that should be preserved. The exhibition then traveled to Beijing where it was exhibited at the Beijing Capital Library during Sept. 19-24. The exhibition was organized by the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS), Asahi Shimbun, a Chinese photographers' association, and a Chinese newspaper.

On the morning of Aug. 7, Shigeo Nagashima, the former star player and head coach of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, received a scare from a knife-wielding intruder in his home in Den'en Chofu, Tokyo. A 67-year-old unemployed man entered Nagashima's home through the unlocked back door and demanded to meet with Nagashima's 34-year-old daughter Mina to take a picture of her. The maid screamed, and the culprit fled. He was caught by police a few minutes later.

Nagashima was asleep on the 2nd floor at the time and did not know what was happening. The man admitted that he was a fan of Mina who is a sports newscaster and was in Osaka at the time. Shigeo is a TV commercial spokesman for a major home security firm, but his own home security system was not activated at the time of the incident.

On the evening of Aug. 22, police in Kanagawa arrested 38-year-old MOROOKA Hiroshi(諸岡 浩) of Yokohama for groping an 18-year-old woman on the train on the JR Tokaido Line going from Yokohama to Totsuka earlier that evening. The woman used her cell phone camera to photograph him in the act and then used a high-voltage stun gun to subdue the man. She then dragged him out of the train at Totsuka Station and handed him over to police. The police accepted her photo as evidence.

On Aug. 26, a special issue of gossip photo tabloid Focus was published one year after the magazine ceased publication.

On Aug. 27, 2002, Doi Photo Gallery in Fukuoka was closed. This was the second major photo gallery in Fukuoka to close this year. The other one was Minolta Photo Space Fukuoka which closed at the end of March.

On Sept. 2, police arrested a 38-year-old, unemployed South Korean man named 金洋 in Kokubunji, Tokyo for copyright infringement. The police acted on a formal complaint filed by a 41-year-old photographer in Tokyo whose photos had been scanned from three of his idol photo books and displayed without permission on the suspect's Web site in June.

The man admitted that he did it to gain advertising income. Since June 1999, he had uploaded about 8,000 idol photos scanned from about 500 photo books and gained at least 9.5 million yen from online advertising by 40 companies over three years.

At the Tokyo Game Show held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba on Sept. 20-22, Dai-Nippon Screen Mfg., Co., Ltd. demonstrated a poster-size, color photocopying machine designed to photocopy a person lying down on the flatbed glass (made of reinforced plastic made to withstand a person weighing up to 120 kg). Named "Azero Originator," the machine produces life-size photocopies measuring 810 mm x 1150 mm. Thanks to a wide depth of focus, image sharpness is maintained even at places not close to the flatbed glass. It also gave a three-dimensional quality.

The machine proved to be highly popular as many costume players and children lined up to have their life-size photocopies taken. Some observers speculated whether this machine might spark another "Print Club" type boom. However, the high cost of one poster photocopy, estimated to be 10,000 yen, would dampen such a boom. It costs the company about 10 million yen to produce one machine. See sample photos at the Azero Web site.

Asahi Optical Company, Ltd., (Asahi Kogaku Kogyo), known for its Pentax brand, changed its corporate name to "Pentax Corporation" on Oct. 1, 2002. Since the company's lines of business were no longer limited only to the optical field, a name change was warranted.

Zoom The September issue (#52) of Milan-based Zoom International magazine was a "Japan Special Issue" featuring eleven Japanese photographers such as IZU Kenro, ONODERA Yuki, and NARAHASHI Asako.

On Oct. 1, Canon Inc. announces that it is negotiating with its labor union to abolish the R&D department's flextime system. Citing the difficulty of holding meetings due to the limited core hours when workers are all present, the company hopes to end the system in Jan. 2003. Canon first introduced its flextime system in 1991. Under flextime, employees were free to set their working hours from 7 am to 10 am and from 2:30 pm to 10 pm, and must be at work during the core hours of 10 am to 2:30 pm. Other major companies such as Fujitsu and Sharp have already abolished their flextime systems earlier this year.

On Oct. 15, five Japanese who were abducted by North Korea in 1978 returned to Japan for the first time since their abductions. One of the abductees, Mr. HASUIKE Kaoru, brought over about 100 photos which surprised his brother Toru. It is rare for North Korean citizens to be able to take photos. It's a luxury only for the privileged class. According to Toru, Hasuike's photos mostly showed special occasions such as the wedding, birthdays, and travel photos (within North Korea only). There were few photos showing their life in North Korea. Kaoru agreed to make only one photo public (published in Japanese newspapers on Oct. 28). It showed he and his wife standing in front of a temple in 1995. Nothing really special, except that both were wearing a North Korean pin on their chests. Later in Nov., high school friends of abductee SOGA Hitomi put together a small, self-published book of high school photos.

In late Nov., Canon marketed the EOS-1Ds, its first digital SLR camera featuring a "full-size" 35.8 x 23.8 mm imaging sensor (CMOS) matching the 35mm film format. The sensor has about 11.1 million pixels (4064 x 2704) suited for professional studio work. The retail price was slightly below 1 million yen. The age of "full-size" SLR digital cameras finally arrived in 2002.

On Dec. 2, CHIMURA Yasushi and wife Fukie, (地村保志、富貴惠)two of the five abductees who returned to Japan from North Korea in Oct., visited Fukui Shimbun newspaper in Fukui city to see a photo exhibition that documented their abduction to North Korea and homecoming to Japan. Titled "Kizuna" (Bond), the exhibition showed about 70 photos. They included pictures of them disembarking from the plane and hugging relatives on the tarmac and the activities of their parents demanding their children's return. The Chimuras are natives of Obama city in Fukui Prefecture.

On Dec. 5, SMBC Consulting Co., which is affiliated with Mitsui-Sumitomo bank, announced 2002's hit products in Japan. In first place was Harry Potter and FIFA World Cup. In second place was cell phone company J-Phone's "Sha-Mail" service that enables photos to be taken and sent via cell phones having a built-in digital camera.

Sales of such cameras have skyrocketed in 2002 as NTT DoCoMo's similar i-shot cell phones were introduced. According to J-Phone, 6 million camera cell phones for their Sha-Mail service have been sold since June 2001 when it was first introduced. ("Sha" is an abbreviation for the word "Shashin" which means photograph.) Total domestic sales of cell phone cameras in fiscal 2002 is expected to exceed 20 million units (compared to 6 million in fiscal 2001). And over half of all cell phones sold had a built-in digital camera. Seeing people taking pictures with their cell phones has definitely became a commonplace.

On Dec. 10-19 at the Tokyo International Forum's A Gallery, popular actress FUJIWARA Norika held a charity photo exhibition showing 150 pictures of Afghanistan she took during her two-week trip in July. The exhibition was titled "For the Future of Afghan Children" and the proceeds (500 yen admission and photo book sales) were to be donated to Afghan children through the Save the Children non-governmental organization. See her exhibition Web site. Also see a Japan Times article about her exhibition.

On Dec. 12 at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, Nobel laureate TANAKA Koichi expressed his anger at the Japanese media for their inconsiderate behavior. The 43-year-old cowinner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry had been dogged by Japanese news photographers who kept ambushing him at night with flash. Tanaka was in Stockhom to attend the Nobel Prize awards ceremony. Ever since the Oct. 9 announcement of Tanaka winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry, he had become a media sensation due to his youth, modesty, and down-to-earthness.

On Dec. 16, a group of 28 top female pop idols including FUJIWARA Norika, FUKADA Kyoko, Yuka, Morning Musume, SATO Eriko, KOIKE Eiko, ABE Natsumi, GOTO Maki, and ANZAI Hiroko filed a lawsuit against two publishers of so-called toko shashin-shi (投稿写真誌) magazines for publishing photos without their permission and infringing on their privacy. The lawsuit, filed with the Tokyo District Court, seeks over 87 million yen in damages. The two magazines in question, Bubka and Top Seed, publishes idol photos submitted by readers and most photos show the idols in less-than-ideal situations (such as upskirt shots).

2002's most memorable photo books (random order): Groups of Women Ama Divers (1931-1964) by IWASE Yoshiyuki, MATSUZAKA Keiko - Sakura Densetsu by MORI Mitsuhiro & Gianfranco Lovisolo, Sexual Colors by ARAKI Nobuyoshi, Merry in KOBE by MIZUTANI Koji, Japan's Art Museums and Photo Collections by MATSUMOTO Norihiko, (See for book reviews.)

Next: PhotoHistory 2003

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