Images by 40 Japanese photographers
The JCII (Japan Camera Industry Institute) Photo Salon (Director: Mayumi Moriyama) is holding a photography exhibition with the theme of “100 Years of Tokyo” on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. The Salon selected photographs of Tokyo from among its catalog of collected works. The exhibition, comprising images taken by 40 Japanese photographers, reflects the changes of the capital of Japan, Tokyo, over the last 100 years.
In 1900 some thirty years had passed since the then capital Edo had its name changed to Tokyo. The streets of Tokyo at that time reflected the changing lifestyles brought about by the new technologies introduced from abroad. In those days, the only professional photographers were those running photo studios while all others were amateurs. All the cameras of those days were equipped with dry plates and were quite cumbersome. The Salon exhibits images such as the Yokohama Photographs showing the old days of Japan. Printing paper in those days was albumenized. After printing, coloring was added by hand to make the images appear real. Around the same period, picture postcards appeared. The picture postcards in the exhibition also show us Tokyo as it used to look.
In 1912, Eastman Kodak Company introduced the “vest pocket Kodak” camera. Ever since, it has been a popular means of taking photographs. In Japan, taking pictures by vest pocket Kodak (camera) quickly established itself as a form of artistic photography. It remained a leading form of photograph expression for a long time. This traditional technique is also represented in the current exhibition.
As previously said, the only professional photographers were cameramen in photo studios and staff cameramen of the newspaper companies in Japan. But around the early 1930s, the emergence of illustrated press inspired demand for freelance photographers. Mr. Yonosuke Natori (1910-1962) went to Germany to study photography and became active as a contract photographer of the local Ullstein Company. Upon his return to Japan, he set up the “Japanese atelier” and taught young Japanese photographers the technique of photo-reportage. He first introduced the term “news photograph” in Japan. Ihee Kimura (1901-1974), Kiyoshi Sonobe (1921-1996) and Shigeichi Nagano (1926- ) were among those who were directly influenced by Mr. Natori. These authors are also represented in the exhibition.
The photographs of Tokyo taken in the 1930s recorded the country heading for the war. In 1945, when Japan surrendered, Tokyo was poor and began the massive reconstruction task. In 1964 Tokyo hosted the Olympic Games. You can find the images in this exhibition giving us a vivid image of the modernized Tokyo. Some of the photographs of today’s Tokyo highlight the issue of pollution.
In the 21st century the capital of Japan may move to elsewhere in Japan and away from Tokyo. We should not forget Tokyo as it was and as it is.
In the exhibition, photographs of Tokyo are accompanied by portraits of the Japanese. They are the people who represent the today’s Japan: politicians, men of letters, artists, actors and actresses, and business people.
Realised by the Japan Camera Industry Institute with the support of the Russia-Japan Society
Authors awarded by Japan Newcomer Award of the Photography Society of Japan
A modern outlook on photography of the Meiji era (1865–1912), the period of the ‘opening of Japan’ and the modernization of foreign policy after two centuries of national isolation