Tokyo Digest – February 2012

©Daisuke Yokota 

There’s so much interest in Japanese photography on the English-speaking web, but not nearly enough connections from the Japanese side. With that in mind, I thought a kind of “Tokyo digest” could be a useful feature for LPV, as a way to circulate a bunch of links that might otherwise go unnoticed. Bryan’s digest is extremely timely, but these features will most likely be a lot slower; there’s really not quite as much happening on the Japanese photography internet. There are a few blogs worth following, though: John Sypal’s blog, Microcord and Japan Exposures (recently revived after a long, post-quake hiatus). My new notebook is posting photos of photobooks, which seems like the thing to do in 2012. I swear I haven’t found any decent blogs in Japanese yet. Still waiting!



The photos in this post were all taken by Daisuke Yokota, a young photographer in Tokyo doing some strange and noteworthy things with flash, Photoshop and re-photography. These photos come from his series “Site.” Yokota is participating in a few online photography projects, which are linked below.

He’s also a member of a photographic group called MP1, which just wrapped up a show at G/P Gallery, one of Tokyo’s higher-level spaces for contemporary photography. I’m interested in MP1 because one of the members of the group, Futoshi Hoshino, is not a photographer at all; he’s a post-doc researcher in aesthetics. Photographers often have difficulty explaining their work, so why not get around that problem by enlisting someone else to speak on your behalf? It seemed like a solid idea, and Hoshino wrote a lucid statement for the show. I went to their talk event (what are these things actually called in English?) curious about what would happen. Maybe predictably enough, though, the interviewer spent most of the time trying to pry difficult answers out of the photographers, while Hoshino looked on, no doubt wishing to butt in and answer himself!

Still, the idea of the group is interesting, and I am interested to see how it develops.


Internet galleries and zine distributors

Yokota is involved with a number of internet projects designed to promote the work of Japanese photographers. Although these sites all have servicable English, and everyone here is interested in what foreigners will think of their work, it seems like almost none of these sites have made a push online to find proverbial viewers like you. Go forth and spread the word!

Parapera is an excellent site distributing zines, mainly of photography. If you’re looking to buy some cheap independent publications made by young Japanese photographers, this is the place.

Spacecadet is a kind of Tinyvices clone for Japan. It’s very useful, and is updated with some frequency.

Trynome is another web gallery that’s probably worth a look.

Planetary Photobooks is a new publishing initiative which is putting out 20 or 30 books by young Japanese photographers, all print-on-demand. There is no way to order them from outside of Japan, though, I’m only linking to it to show you the (sometimes nonsensically) insular nature of things happening here.


Articles bouncing around the Japan blogsphere

There’s not a whole lot, but a couple things popped up recently.

‘The New Social Photographer’

This post was a response to the last article that I posted up on LPV, talking about the reaction among Japanese photographers to the 3/11 disaster. I wrote a comment back, but no response.

The post-war artists saw themselves as elements of a social fabric and their view was outward, on society, its values and behaviours. The view of the photographer itself is a reflection of those values. It still is, only that the view direction has changed from outward to inward. - [Japan Exposures]

‘Kohei Sugiura: The Japanese Photobook as Object’

Russet Lederman wrote an ode to the book design of Kohei Sugiura. He’s responsible for 1960′s/70′s treasures like Kawada Kikuchi’s “The Map,” and other books which the important people will tell you are important. (I’m sure they’re actually good though)

Touching, handling and reading a book designed by Kohei Sugiura is a distinctive experience that delivers the sublime pleasure associated with “objectness.” - [ICP Library Blog] 

  • Francesco

    Interesting idea, to create a Tokyo Digest. I’d like to share a link to the AsianPhotoArts, a group of very interesting photographers in Tokyo:

  • greg

    Agreed, this is a wonderful feature (to compliment Bryan’s digests). 

  • Brandon

    Thanks for this! The links are great.