3月 172012




Let me introduce Kimura Ihei Award, popular photographic award in Japan (1970s is here, 1980s is here and here). This time, early 1990s.

What was happening in Japan back then? Japan became one of the strongest economic power in 1980s, but the economic growth, so called post-war economic miracle, ended in 1991 when asset price bubble busted. Did it matter to the photography scene in Japan? It looks it didn’t but new types of photographers came up in this period. Let’s see.

1990年度は今道子さんの「EAT Recent Works」。女性写真家の受賞は、石内都さん、武田花さんに続いて3人目。


The winner of 1990, Michiko Kon. The third female winner, following Miyako Ishiuchi in 1978 and Hana Takeda in 1989. Kon utilize food to make surreal objects.  The photographer certainly has strong obsession to make works and we have not seen this type of artist in this award so far, aren’t we? I picked up her photobook Eat before, check it out.


The winner of 1991, Toshio Shibata. In this series, titled “Quintessence of Japan”, the photographer found abstract beauty in rural areas where nature and artificial concrete structures coexistence. Shibata was not born photographer. Studied oil painting in Tokyo University of the Arts, Shibata started to take photograph after he graduated.

It could be stated that this series of work implies critical view of environmental disruption but he definitely enjoys the visual effect in mixture of artificial structures and nature. You can tell this clearly if you look his recent color works.

1992年度は2人同時受賞。大西みつぐさんの「遠い夏」(上)と小林のりおさんの『First Light』。

There are two winners of 1992, Mitsugu Onish and Norio Kobayashi.



The winner of 1993, Yasuhisa Toyohara.

Yasumasa Morimura was in the final nominees, whose work is to put himself into famous paintings (similar style with Cindy Sherman. See his works here) . Eventually street snap won against contemporary art this year, maybe because Yutaka Takanashi and Shigeichi Nagano, two masters of street snap photographer were included in the five nominators?


The winner of 1994, Mitsuhiko Imamori. Imamori has been published numerous photobooks mainly about insects and the surrounding nature.

To be continued.

 Posted by at 10:43 AM
3月 052012



Let me introduce Kimura Ihei Award, popular photographic award in Japan (review of 1970s is here, early 1980s here). This time, late 1980s.

1986年度は和田久士さんの『アメリカン・ハウス – その風土と伝統』。


The winner of 1986, Hisashi Wada. Wada photographed old American houses mostly from 18th century. As you probably noticed already, Kimura Ihei Award has very wide range of selection in terms of photographer’s style and stance. Street snap, journalism, nature photo, fine art… it does not matter. Very Japanese?


The winner of 1987, Ikuo Nakamura.


The winner of 1988, Ryuji Miyamoto. Titled Architectual Apocalypse, Miyamoto captured the moment of historical architecture’s demolition. In 1995, Miyamoto photographed destroyed buildings after Great Hanshin earthquake. You can see his works here (worth checking out).



The winner of 1989, Hana Takeda. She started to photograph stray cats in town after graduating university. She has been published many photobooks and photo essays, mostly related to cat. But this awarded series of work titled Nemuso-na-machi (sleepy town), she focused on street itself. Her street snap photos are not wet, rather dry and that’s why peculiar.

By the way, it’s in the middle of bubble economy in late 1980s in Japan. Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance Company(now became Sompo Japan Insurance Inc.) bought Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” for roughly 60 million dollars in 1987. In 1989, a real-estate developer and investment banker Tomonori Tsurumaki purchased a Picasso’s painting for 50 million dollars. There are so many crazy legends of rich Japanese in this era and I would like to introduce them on another opportunity.

Back to Kimura Ihei Award.

So Takeda was shooting quietly while many of us were crazy about money.



The winner of 1989, Michio Hoshino. There is one more winner in this year. Hoshino was attracted in nature especially of Alaska. He unfortunately died while he was in Alaska. Bear, which he loved, sarcastically attacked him. He left large amount of works both photographs and texts and his works and lifestyle still have strong influence on many creators.

I compared two Alaskas, one is through Hoshino’s eye and the other is through Peter Southerland’s. The article is here.

Finally, it’s 1990s next time.

 Posted by at 9:51 AM
2月 262012



let me introduce Kimura Ihei Award, popular photographic award in Japan (review of 1970s is here). This time, early 1980s.We were getting rich and rich after the world war II. Did this affect to the selection?


1980 Tuneo Enari (江成常夫). He went to the States to interview/photograph war brides, who left Japan with American husband after the war. He consistently chooses dark side of Showa-era (1926-1989), (without no doubt the most dramatic time in the history of Japan), as the subjects.


1981 Kanendo Watanabe (渡辺兼人). This could be a good example of one of the typical styles in Japanese photography, strolling around town and capture the images in black and white with vague concept. Images are rather poetic and lyrical. I said this is Japanese but not only us? I don’t know. All I can say is that there are still many photographers in Japan follows this style while many have appeared in contemporary art field too. Also when I talked to a photo editor in Korea, she told me they consider photography as an art form so that they never shoot without concept in Korea. Interesting.

1982年度は北島敬三さんの『NEW YORK』。

1982 Keizo Kitajima (北島敬三). “NEW YORK”

1983年度は該当者なし。1984年度は田原桂一さんの写真集『TAHARA KEIICHI 1973~1983』。1951年生まれの田原さんは1972年フランスに渡り、1977年にはアルル国際写真フェスティバル新人大賞を受賞されています。その後も彫刻や映像、光を使った様々なプロジェクトを手がけています。明らかにこれまでの木村伊兵衛賞の写真家とは違うタイプです。アーティストの公式サイトで様々な作品が見られますのでのぞいてみて下さい。


There was no nominee in 1983.

1984 Keiichi Tahara (田原桂一). He has quite unique background and totally different from the photographers selected so far. Born in Kyoto in 1951, he left to France in 1972, awarded Grand Prix des Jeunes Photographes, Arles France in 1977. His works are not only photographs, but also sculpture, movie, projects using light. If you see his web site (it is in Japanese, English and French), you will see.

By the way, Araki was nominated in this year. But he eventually hasn’t been given this award.



1985 Kazuyoshi Miyoshi (三好一義). We were getting closer to the top of post-war economic miracle time in late 80s to early 90s. Miyoshi’s pictures of resort islands certainly reflected the era.

Stay tuned for late 1980s.


 Posted by at 4:20 PM
2月 192012



On Feb 17th, 2012, Masaru Tatsuki (田附勝) was given 37th Kimura Ihei Award with his photobook “Tohoku (東北) “. Before introducing Tatsuki’s work, let me introduce this popular photographic award in Japan.

The cover shot by Takashi Homma.

I was struggling how to explain the Kimura Ihei Award in English but found it in wiki. Saved my precious time. Thank you.

The Kimura Ihei Award (木村伊兵衛写真賞) is a Japanese photographic award that attracts the attention of the mass media and book-buyers.
The award has been given every year since 1975 (except 1983) by the Asahi Shimbun Company, publisher of Asahi Shimbun and the magazine Asahi Camera, in honor of the photographer Ihei Kimura. It is given to one or more new photographers whose work has been exhibited or published during the previous year and is announced in the April issue of Asahi Camera

This explanation might not be enough to understand it. But there is a good book that retrospects the 30 years, since 1975, of this award. Let’s have a peek.


1975 Kazuo Kitai (北井一夫), He photographed Japanese villages. I introduced a photobook at the same era. Please check.



What was going on in 1970′s anyway? After the war, we already built Tokyo Tower in 50′s, Bullet train started to run in 60′s. Japan was still economically growing so fast in 70′s. The first McDonald in Ginza in 1971, winter Olympic in Hokkaido in 1972, oil crisis in 1973 (everybody rushed stores to buy toilet papers. I know a man who still has stock that he bought in the year), in 1979, Sony released Walkman. Not as radical as 60′s provoke era, but still very wild.

Back to the award. 1976 Taira Koushichi (平良考七) photographed the people and culture in the islands of Okinawa prefecture (very south tropical islands. Most popular destination for beach resort in Japan), Taira was actually born and lived there. The first two photographers chased vernacular things.


1977 Shinya Fujiwara (藤原新也). After quitting Tokyo University of Arts in 1969, he went to travel Asia and Europe for 12 years. He was one of the most famous photographers/travel writers (he got rid of his image of “traveler” later on). I personally backpacked Asian countries in late 90′s and found his books at every cheap guest house I stayed. He later became one of the judges of this award.


1978 Miyako Ishiuchi (石内都). Her work titled “Apartment”. No explanation needed for her?


1979 Seiji Kurata’s “Street PhotoRandom Tokyo 75 – 79″. He participated Daido Moriyama’s workshop in 1976.




There is one more photographer in 1979, Mitsuaki Iwago (岩合光昭). Probably the most famous animal photographer in Japan. His works have been used on the cover image of National Geographic Magazine several times.

As you see, all of the works utilizes documentary style in a way.

Stay tuned for 80′s.

 Posted by at 5:22 PM