Background: The Bifurcation of Modern Japanese Art Practice
By the late 1910s, Japanese art practice in pictorial discourses had effectively bifurcated as official categories into Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) and Yôga (Western-style painting). But just as this dichotomy was institutionalized, the categories of work began to break down even as it was becoming institutionalized, from 1895 to 1908, into types of training available at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and in the categories for works accepted at the national art salon Bunten.
Sculpture retained a kind of autonomy for portraiture and decoration, graphics had never been thought of as an art, and from the 1910s illustrators began seeking the status of artists, either by their training as Western-style painters or as the unique authors of prints for which they carved their own woodblocks or etched their own plates. A number of painters, however, began to work across both categories. A kind of hybrid oil painting developed with long flexible outlines and a full chromatic range of earth hues and sharp blues and crimson that were linear structures and colors entirely compatible with pre-Meiji ukiyo-e and kimono designs.
The Rise of Modern Photographic Discourse
The earliest photograph taken in Japan by a Japanese photographer is probably that of Shimazu Nariakira in 1856. Quite a long gap exists before the rise of modern photogravure printing for widespread publishing of photographs as magazine illustrations, in the early 1920s, and the rise of an artistic photography in the later 1920s, roughly contemporary with Hamaya’s own lifeline. These are all rather well studied with a broad literature in Japanese and I will not follow them through here in any detail.2
One should note that apart from ritual photographs with a ceremonial importance, commemorative photographs, photojournalism, street genre scenes, and landscape, which appeared in Japanese magazines from the 1900s and increasingly in photogravure supplements from the mid-1920s, the notion of what might be visually figured changed with the diffusion of photographic practice. Even notable realist paintings of the late 1900s seem to have absorbed a photographic eye, just as photographs themselves could be exhibited individually as a kind of pictorialism.
Photographs had long stood as reference material for portrait paintings and were used for reportage, but by the 1920s some notions of photographic reality began to deflect if not replace other kinds of visualization. The visual, mediated photographically, became the domain that legitimated other kinds of viewing. This may explain in part the rise in the 1930s of the Shinseisakuha [New Production School], which produced most of the war painters, who were thereby equipped to generate the required reportage mode for representation of actual war scenes or battles.
But other tendencies in painting appeared along with photographic domination of the visual from the mid-1920s. One was surrealist distortion of the representation of the human figure or its visual field, which in mild forms is simply borrowed from a kind of photographic collage of discontinuous dream scenes, and in another direction reconceived the body as landscape of desire. There was also an abstract formalism that appeared as a photographic concern for the abstract visual properties of natural phenomena, and certainly can be found as a reference, if not also as a constituting formal armature, in even nihonga artists by the 1930s.
Another direction was taken in painting by the general mood of expressive naturalism in value or subjects considered nihonteki, Nihonfû [in the Japanese manner], in which a notional pictorial realism was allied with the mood or atmosphere the particular posing of the model was supposed to induce. This tendency can be seen as informed across a wide range of official salon painting in the 1930s, but also allied with abstract formalism in the explicitly propaganda imagery found in the journal Nippon.
The various forms of expression and modalities of this imagery have been analyzed by other scholars.3 Here I would like simply to reiterate that it was the rise and widespread distribution of photogravure magazines as well as large advertising layouts on the walls of some cafés that incorporated the distortions of constructivist designs, photographic collage, and surrealist dreamscapes into public fields of representation. Of course, the visual as a field mediated by photography did not yet dominate the realm of literature or of the verbal in public representation, as it would in 1950s and 1960s Japan. One can see it as having been brought into unprecedented prominence during precisely the time when Hamaya Hiroshi became a photographer.
Hamaya Hiroshi and His Context
Because Hamaya Hiroshi emerged from this context, his work serves as a useful trajectory in understanding the conjunction of historical events and broader social forces in his photography. I will first chart some elements in his early development as a photographer, then return to how the historical crisis of the Eight Years’ War (1938–45) unfolded and how it was survived by Japanese visual discourses.
Hamaya belongs to that broad stratum of lower-middle-class urban dwellers known as shomin, those who were not high samurai but instead descended in some ways from the lower samurai and the craftsmen classes of Edo. His father was a detective, and one can suppose a policeman’s diligence and attention to detail may have been inculcated into his son. A certain impatience with formal education may be seen in the fact that he changed schools many times, and another early inheritance was familiarity with traumatic disaster through his experience of the Great Kantô Earthquake of 1923, when he was eight, and with the fire-bombing of Tokyo in 1945. He received a Kodak Brownie when he was fifteen, which he replaced with a Leica in 1935. He was for the most part self-taught in photography (Fig. 1 )
In the meantime, Hamaya had graduated from commercial art school, worked as a photographer’s assistant, and in 1933 even took aerial photographs. His technical knowledge must have taken a leap forward when he was employed by a large photographic company whose darkroom technician, it appears, took the time to teach him.
In the late nineteenth century Japanese photography had moved from portraiture and some landscape work to much more stylistically aware images after the arrival of art nouveau and a kind of naturalism, in the 1910s. In the late nineteenth century, photographs were circulated by the US agency Underwood and Underwood, and by the 1920s and 1930s were circulated by agencies such as Black Star (Germany), UPI, and AP on a contract basis.4 By the 1920s, just as Hamaya was learning photography, professional meant either a studio photographer or one employed as a journalist. [Fig.4]
The 1930s saw the advent of Japan’s first freelance cameramen, Kimura Ihee, Horino Masao, and Watanabe Yoshio, who sold to newspapers and did commission work for article illustrations. Also prominent was Natori Yônosuke, who when he returned from Germany, in 1932, was more of an editor than a photojournalist, although he did directly employ the photographer Dômon Ken. [Figs. 5, 6] Post-1945, illustrated journalism and illustrated books were indebted to Natori, whose work was the prewar and wartime precursor of what after 1945 became a specific form of Japanese mass-image merchandising: one between art photography and photojournalism. [Figs. 7, 8]
Photographical style from the 1910s to 1920s was in the vein of pictorialism: that is, photographs followed — and sometimes directly imitated — the effects of late plein air painting. This changed in the 1920s, however, with the introduction of Neue Sachlichkeit, (New Objectivity, in Japanese called at the time Shin jitsuzai )5. New tendencies in German photography, shinkô shashin, also appeared in 1931, when a part of the exhibition Film und Foto, first shown in Stuttgart in 1929, toured between Tokyo and Osaka as Doitsu Kokusai Idô Shashinten and included photograms, photo montages, small-camera cityscapes, X-rays, and microscope photographs. There was also an introduction to German photographic style through the Japanese students who returned from the Bauhaus, and, for some architectural professionals, access to German architectural magazines.6
Hamaya started being interested in these developments and saw the newly arisen photographic tendencies in the mid-1930s as a casting-off of naturalism to becoming conscious of the modern.7 [Fig.9] Just on the cusp of the Sino-Japanese War, in 1938, a new national and international photojournalism became prominent in Japan; Hamaya later noted that Life began publication in 1936 and Look in 1937. For him, graphic journalism marked a departure from the culture of an age of reading to a culture of looking. It would go too far to say this public visual culture was tied to the separation of ordinary people from political power in the 1930s, but Hamaya’s political indifference is evident. For example, he was not aware of the 26 February 1936 coup d’état until he heard about it on the radio: “People thronged the streets as if having nothing to do with the repression of thought and the inclination towards fascism.”8
An indication of Japan’s close awareness of European photography is that when Hamaya left the Oriental Photography Company, in 1937, he received Brassai’s Paris de Nuit with an essay by Paul Morand as a farewell present. And one can see his shift out of naturalism by his quirky moderne street photography [Fig. 10]
Hamaya’s professional status changed as well. In the same year, he established his own freelance studio in the garden of the family’s new home at Omori, called Ginkôbo. He set it up with his second-elder brother, Tanaka Masao, who had graduated from the Printing Section of Tokyo Higher Craft School.
Another measure of the flexibility and openness of Japanese photography to new visual discourses is the link with surrealism. One year later, in 1938, at just twenty-three years old, Hamaya was associated with Takiguchi Shûzô when he and others (Nagata Isshû, Abe Nobuya, Tanaka Masao) founded the Zen‘ei Shashin Kyôkai (Avant-garde Photography Association). The next year the name was changed to Zôkeishashin kenkyûkai (Formative Photography Research Association), which was a less sensitive title and attracted less attention; Hamaya must have been intimately aware of the pressures of ultranationalist policies on edgy artistic practice.
Hamaya was at this time stimulated by the work of Man Ray, Dulac, and Moholy-Nagy; the photography of Takegawa Hachirô of 1925;9 and the surrealism of André Breton. Clearly his exposure indirectly to French surrealism through the circle around Takiguchi resulted in somewhat of a flapper absurdism and dandyism in which the photographer displays his or her work as a kind of style model for others. This propensity would probably have developed further were it not for the Eight Years’ War.
Consequences of the Eight Years’ War, 1938-45, for Japanese Visual Discourses
Many photographers and artists were aware of the war in China because of visits to the front in 1938. There were many photographic portraits of returned artists, among them Hamaya’s of Fujita Tsuguharu, but in retrospect they seem ironic. Hamaya wrote: “It must be said [the fact] that I and the journalists did not feel too many contradictions was a very large contradiction. (Hamaya, 1971, 28)
The genre of portraits of artists, writers, and scientists recurs frequently until the end of the war, and indeed seems to have been solidified for the post-1945 magazine industry.
Hamaya, not yet called up, carried out military assignments, such as in 1939 photographing the Takada Regiment ski unit in the deep mountains of Niigata. [Fig.11] This project seems to have been the first occasion for him to travel around rural Japan in any depth, and those excursions ultimately produced one of the most significant postwar photo-books, Yukiguni [Snow Country], in 1956. In Niigata, Hamaya began an association with ethnologists and folklore collectors that would last for the next fifteen or twenty years. He acknowledged his humanist philosophy in Yukiguni:
In this wintry village of just twenty-five roofs among the valleys of Echigo when one sees the classic[al form] of a magnificent way of living, one can envisage the richness and depth of the spiritual life which has passed through such a long history. To harvest rice is not just an exchange of energy via physical labour. A deep confluence with the gods was required in the hearts of the farmers who built a golden national land from the impoverished Japanese archipelago.10
In this period, he also met the ethnologist Ichikawa Shinji, who was in charge of Shibuzawa Keizô’s Attic Museum, a collection of folklore materials that was later destroyed during the fire-bombing. Such circles led him to read Watsuji Tetsurô’s Fûdo: Ningenteki kôsatsu [Cultural Habitus as an Expression of Climatic Environment: Observations from a Human Point of View]. He took photographs as self-consciously ethnographic records, including of the goze¸ a photograph of blind female street singers he took to Shibuzawa’s museum on arriving back in Tokyo. [Fig. 12] But these images were made in almost the same manner as was the urban ethnography he produced of Asakusa and Ginza scenes [Fig. 13]; the difference is simply the subjects. Over the course of his work, their proposition as indices of an alternative view of Japan became stronger.
Shibuzawa often spoke of the common people. In Japanese he used the word jômin, the ordinary, everyday people. And he pressed for the work of excavating the culture of the common people against that of the ruling class. [Hamaya, 1971, 41]
Shibuzawa’s academic method was very empirical. As far as possible, one observed agricultural ceremonies and annual customs, recorded them by film or photograph, took down oral notes, and collected actual objects such as agricultural implements and so forth. I was taught the value of photographs as records. He was kind enough to value me by saying that in my photographs the heart [the sensibility embodying/embodied by the meaning of the objects] was transcribed. [Hamaya 1971, 42]
For Hamaya, rural Japan was a repository of customs, objects of life, and modes of subsistence that provided a notion of spirit that survived the environment as well as the depredations of urban life and classes. He did not have a ready-made Marxist class analysis but his work was to lead to a humanistic depiction of rural life and customs that he implicitly had and sometimes explicitly posed against the city. His position could be seen as in sympathy with the ultranationalist ambience of the times, but actually one could also see his emphasis on the rural as an urban attachment to rural values, even if weakly articulated, that had survived despite their depredation by the modern and the city-based militarist ideologies. In other words, the rural is perceived as a sort of idealized antithesis to the urban and modern, with its enormous pressures on human values. The position was laid out in his later Yukiguni.
In February 1940, under the direction of Ichikawa, Hamaya visited the village of Kuwatoridani, in Niigata, where he researched and photographed customs of the six-day “Minor” New Year (as calculated by the pre-Western lunar calendar). [Fig. 14] Hamaya turned toward the ethnology of Shibusawa Keizô, with whom he had contact for the next ten years.
This humanistic identification, prone to essentializing, was no doubt a form of resistance against the militarist identification of a Japanese spirit and perhaps an overly cold and unsympathetic, if neutral, class analysis. One surmises that like other Japanese humanists, such as the director Ozu Yasujirô, whose 1962 film Samma no Aji [An Autumn Afternoon] nostalgically reconstructs the experience of war in a bar conversation between an ex–naval officer and his former crew member more or less as “It is better that we lost,” Hamaya thought of Japanese human values as somehow outside the historical constraints of the ultranationalist state that proclaimed them. This was naïve, he admitted later [Hamaya, 1971, 28].
During the war Hamaya traveled to continental Asia only three times: In 1940 he made two visits to Manchuria to photograph industrial installation; in 1942 he was sent to photograph the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Japanese puppet state Manzhouguo (Manchukuo) [Manshûkoku] as well as the Kantô army. I have found no sign of his wanting to decline these assignments, but in February 1941 there is the hint of an anti-bureaucratic, if not anti-authoritarian, individualism in his refusing to serve in the propaganda unit run by Natori Shunsuke, who was then in China, that published Nippon.
In May 1941, Hamaya did enter the photography section of the publicity and propaganda company Tôhôsha on the nomination of Kimura Ihei and photographed army and navy subjects for the propaganda magazine Front. In November 1941, Tôhôsha photographers were sent to shoot dummy navy exercises, and at that time writers, painters, comic artists, photographers, and journalists were called up. But Hamaya was not to be mustered for military training until August 1942, and after his second Manchurian assignment, he became very angry that Tôhôsha refused to pay for the injuries of a cameraman. He left when, because of his attitude, the company turned down his request to take war photographs in Rabaul, New Guinea.11
His wartime propaganda pictures mix dramatic naturalism with a playful, almost cynical manipulation, a technique he had been familiar with over the last ten years. He writes in autobiography about the manipulation of images to make multiple figures of tanks to imply overwhelming material force, and also records how he took images of marine marches. [Figs. 15, 16] I do not have access to the magazines in which the images appeared, so I do not know whether these techniques were discussed for the readers. There is no doubt in recollection, however, that Hamaya was aware of and implicitly ashamed of these distortions.12
Hamaya appears to be one of the few photographers to express regret for the direction taken by his wartime work, but more as a disappointment at his loss of status as an independent photographer, and for the fact that the photographs required for war propaganda lacked truth. Perhaps with an element of self-pity, he regarded his own history as one of a generation sacrificed by its fate.
[In 1970] I recalled twenty-five years ago with many thoughts whirling around as a member of the Taishô generation which had the most sacrifices forced on it during and after the war.13
Above all, the war forced on Hamaya the realization that photography was not painting, nor must it yield its narrativity to that of literature
That photography must not be an inferior version of painting is the realization of modern photography. In studying photography I avoid the plastic formativity of painting and look for the narrativity of literature, approaching what it is to be human. Even so, because it would be troubling for photography to lose its own character, this has to be without going too deeply into literature, and especially not be too familiar with poetry.14
Trajectories Out of the War
In 1945, after the unspeakably horrendous fire bombing and the dropping of the atomic bomb that occasioned Japan’s admission of defeat,15[Fig.17] it is fairly clear that one route away from the art and visual discourses compromised by the war was a move toward further Dadaist or surrealist expression. Another path was a return to a left-wing materialist expression somewhat indebted to, but whose genealogy was cut off from, Neue Sachlichkeit. Most important, not much authority remained from the propagandistic uses of a kind of academic pictorial realism that despite its enormous wartime popularity had not extended to a universalist quest for identity in human sympathy; it had grossly pushed in the direction of a racist super-nationalism.
In historical hindsight, it matters little that some Allied propaganda uses of photography that reinforced general ideological training for American troops in the Pacific War was as much, if not more, racist than were the images of cultural others perpetrated by the Japanese Imperial forces. The relation between academic realism and propaganda was so close that only the ability of photography to capture the wreck of post-bombing Japanese cities appears to have redeemed realism’s power of expression.
As we have seen, Hamaya and other photographers recognized the need for photography’s own way of storytelling, and for it no longer to give up the function of photographic truth. This position authorized the documentation of life recovering in the cities, much in the same way as Hamaya and Kuwabara Kineo, for example, had already documented the street life of Asakusa and Ginza in the late 1930s. It was continued after the war by many, among them Hayashi Tadahiko. This gave a particular status to photojournalism in newspapers and, as had been done by the United States, the widespread use of images for photo essays in magazines. By the mid-1950s, the photobook was a way to exhibit and distribute a photographer’s individual vision, and one in which Hamaya’s humanism and a kind of surrealist ethnology could meet in his 1956 Yukiguni. [Fig.18]
But as Kaneko Ryûichi has pointed out,16 the end of the occupation in 1954 meant that the buying of American illustrated magazines such as Life, Look, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue would become much more open and old copies left behind by the Americans were available for sale. Before then, they had circulated in a very narrow sphere. From 1957 on, photographers visited the American Cultural Center to look at illustrated magazines.
The trend toward photobooks was reinforced by the work of Ishimoto Yasuhiro.17 His history marks a neglected period of Japanese photographers moving between different sites in Japan and the United States, similar to the fate of commercial Japanese photographers who earlier worked in Southeast Asia, one of whom, Masuno Kinjirô, in 1930 gave Hamaya his first Kodak Brownie. Ishimoto’s 1958 book Aru hi, aru tokoro [A Certain Day, a Certain Place] linked American and Japanese photos, and such photobooks provided a different outlet for photographers, a plethora appearing between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s.
The structure of publishing photographs was very different in Japan from how it was organized in the United States. Japanese photo magazines, such as Asahi Camera, Camera Mainichi, Sankei Camera, had two functions: to provide “how-to” information for amateurs and to provide exhibition opportunities for freelance and other professional photographers. (During the war and then in the occupation, Japan had no picture magazines on the order of Life). In America, the purpose of camera magazines was only to explain photography to amateurs; by and large, these periodicals were not outlets for photographs as alternatives to mainstream photojournalism. Photo essays did appear in Japan from the 1930s until the war, and after the war in mid-range intellectual magazines such as Chûô Kôron: Later, from 1968 to 1971, freelance photographers could publish in Asahi Jaanaru and other newsmagazines. Thereafter pictures were taken only by staff photographers.
After 1945, Hamaya broadly followed three trajectories: he continued the humanistic visual ethnology of folk life in the severe, natural environment of peripheral Japan, from Akita in northern Honshû to Yamaguchi in the west [Fig. 19]; he continued to visually eulogize the daily life of ordinary people, among them his wife and her students in enjoyment and struggle [Fig. 20]; and from the 1960s he adopted a scientist-like distance from nature in large-scale “objectivist” examinations of mountains and other natural terrain. [Fig. 23]
The “return to the folk” and its visual representation was most noted in 1956 in the first major postwar photobook, Yukiguni, whose work Hamaya had accumulated since 1940. From 1954 on he was also engaged in a series derived from his travels around the twelve prefectures facing the Sea of Japan, and these images became his second major photobook, 1957’s Ura Nihon [Back Japan], which portrays the other side of Japan, away from the Pacific, of villages far from traditional urban centers of high culture, of people who tenaciously survived despite their relative isolation. Ura Nihon contains significant statements of his philosophy and revealing comments on major photographs. Hamaya wrote:
Old things were destroyed for the sake of social progress. Whilst the fact that they would disappear was unavoidably part of the flow of time, even thus one had to give serious attention to the complete removal of the traces of tradition. At that time I pushed forward my work in strongly emphasizing the recording propensity of photography. In particular I was concerned about the necessity to put on record now, whilst it was with us in some form or another, the ethnos [minzoku] which had the basic function in forming the human. [Hamaya, 1971, 152]
The way in which his social conscience was in alliance with his attitude about the value of the disappearing folk is found from comments about two photographs in Ura Nihon.
Rice-Planting Woman Toyama Prefecture, Nakashinkawa County, Kamiichi-machi-chô, Shirahagi.
Planting in a wetfield is dreadful. You plant sinking up to your chest in the mud and wrapped in tattered clothes with a straw wrapped around the body. The straw is put on to keep you warm and for flotation. It is a swamp all made from volcanic ash on a little flat area surrounded by mountains and is more a bottomless swamp than a rice field. Primitive rice planting would seem to have been like this. Most of Japan’s rice fields have been turned into beautiful, fertile fields by the sweat and blood of generations of ancestors. But this narrow earth has hamlets between the mountains which still have to grow rice in these conditions. In Toyama Prefecture there are both many wetfields and semi-wet fields but not this dreadful planting. [Fig. 21]
A Child Carrying a Baby on Her Back Aomori Prefecture, Higashi-Tsugaru County, Ôhira
In the mountains of Tsugaru Peninsula, the cold deep in your bones, the day rushes into darkening. The isolation of winter covers the hamlets, between the homes so separated far from each other. To eyes used to the night only the snow road is white. In that thin veil of whiteness a girl carrying a baby on her back walks staring only at her feet. Cooped up by the winter the children of the mountains are never freed from baby-sitting and running errands. The facts of poverty-stricken Japan are inherited from one generation to another of carried and carrying children. Even here too all one can do is await the destiny of a woman’s life. [Fig. 22]
Hamaya is holding on to a notion of human struggle with nature for survival and of Japanese folk survival under extreme conditions, for which there is little hope of respite except the determination of the lives lived. The opening motto in Ura Nihon is Ningen ga ningen wo rikai suru tame ni, nihonjin ga nihonjin wo rikai suru tame ni [so that humans understand humans . . . so that Japanese understand Japanese]. This is followed by a foreword by the by then famous novelist Kawabata Yasunari. Hamaya holds out no romantic or even revolutionary hope, but he does indicate a sympathy for and even identification with his subjects. This kind of humanism seems to be a resistance against the restrictive urban system of Japanese life as much as an admiration for the bearers of its folk values. Of course, here he is not just showing admiration; he is also presenting traditional ways of life as a kind of imprisonment for the people caught in them.
One of the ways Hamaya and other postwar artists and intellectuals, such as the printmaker Ono Tadashige, worked through their guilt about the war in China and about the way Japan had invaded that country was to go to China and take photographs of or paint or write about ordinary people, and sometimes to depict China’s political leaders. Hamaya went to China by an invitation from Nitchû Kôryû Kyôkai (the Japan–China Exchange Association), as did other photographers. [Figs. 24, 25] This organization served as a mediating agency for unofficial diplomacy, and it clearly gave some photographers close access to the Chinese political elite. Like many otherwise ideologically uncommitted Japanese, these photographers thought New China was the embodiment of hope for the fulfillment of what Imperial Japan had obstructed. China was thus seen as a communitarian, civilizational, peopled entity and not as the ideologically motivated construction of the “Red” China of America’s Cold War propaganda.18
Hamaya was soon to have direct experience with a real political conflict when he covered the Anti-Japan-US Security Treaty struggles, which he photographed after May 20, 1960. [ill.30, 31] He photographed these popular demonstrations (often misleadingly described in English as “riots”) for Paris Match (June 25) and other European magazines. His work on demonstrations and their suppression also appears in Camera Geijutsu, Nihon Camera, and in his own photobook Ikari to Kanshimi no Kiroku [A Record of Rage and Sadness], published by Kawadeshobô Shinsha from contributions to Camera Mainichi in August 1960. Photobooks had become a kind of instant photojournalistic record but also a politico-aesthetic statement of the times. [Figs. 26, 27] They were followed with photobooks about opposition to the war in Vietnam and about the struggles opposing the building of Narita airport. Hamaya has no compunction about turning the image of the demonstrations back on those who suppressed them.
So long as the violence of money was not swept away it was not a true election. If in a general election the individual will of the people, the will for truth does not operate, the election has no meaning. If the situation continues in which distrust of elections and distrust of politics is not wiped away, revolutionary thought can arise. Youth which values purity will quickly run off in that direction. It is closer to the facts to say this is idealism rather than communism. Rather than communism, what made the students regard the government as their enemy was the violent ideology of Japanese politics and politicians.19
The contradiction for Hamaya and his work was that he was not a politician with an ideological bent other than humanism induced by the destruction of war and his later reaction to own initial intoxication by it. His humanism was recognized by inclusion of his work in the 1955 Family of Man exhibition, which toured worldwide, and by his elevation as the first Japanese photographer invited to join the Magnum Photos agency, in 1960. [Figs. 28, 29, 30]
In a word, Magnum’s spirit was a respect for humanity. It focused down on the problems of humanity beyond the state, ethnos, and system and worked for mutual understanding through photography.20
Nor was Hamaya a formalist in the constructivist or surrealist mode that he had known since his late teens, when he became a photographer. Thus, he would not pursue the visually grotesque, as did Okamoto Tarô, despite the fact that both had an interest in the concealments and decorative exaggerations of folk masks. He became disillusioned not merely with political activity but also with the humanism he had hoped could be realized in post-1945 Japan
Instead, beginning in 1960 he indeed turned to a view of nature writ large, as if this would provide the kind of metaphysical distance, perhaps a Buddhist non-desire, that would give him a cosmological space.
In 1960 Hamaya began photographing the Nihon Rettô [Japanese Archipelago] series.
The idea of nature and view of landscape of Japanese was carried on just as it was in landscape photography. I decided to distance myself from this Japanese notion and to look at the nature of Japan scientifically. I first got rid of the attitude of viewing nature.21
He then went on via photographs to study Japan structurally, geo-morphologically, and geologically. [Fig. 23]
The nature left in Japan was extremely rare. Humanity had entered into its deepest recesses. In that situation I avoided at all costs anything with the stink of humanity. I consciously separated off all except nature. One could say I began by denying humanity.22
Hamaya engaged in many professional activities: for example, he was chairman of the committee for the exhibitions and book One Hundred Years of Japanese Photography, which was very difficult to organize and required three or four years’ research. This was a challenging task even though the work was carried out mostly by Tomatsu Shômei and Taki Kôji.
Another way out of the horrors of war was in Hamaya’s personal life. He married Asa (1910–1985), the second daughter of a banker who was also a hereditary tea master in Niigata. She had first married in about 1932 to a scholar from Takada, who, after being drafted during the war, died in 1944. She had no children.23 After her first husband’s death, Asa returned to Takada to live with her old mother-in-law and there she taught tea ceremony and piano. [Fig. 31] The poet Horiguchi Daigaku and his wife acted as go-betweens for Asa and Hiroshi, and the new couple (Hiroshi, thirty-three years old) and Asa (thirty-seven) married. Although as far as it is know they did not have children, the photographs of Asa by Hamaya testify to a deep affection and attraction. Notice the tenderness in the exposure of the shoulder and the nape of the neck, in Japan considered areas of erotic display, as seen in eighteenth-century color prints and in discussions among some thinkers in the 1920s.24 [Fig. 32]
Significantly, it was Hamaya Hiroshi who saw to it that Asa’s memoir was published after her death, in 1985. It is evident that the intimacy of this private life was a solid foundation for Hamaya’s understanding of and sympathy for other lives, particularly in his photographs of working women.
If Hamaya discovered what he thought was the Japanese folk, even as he had discovered social customs that some would consider quintessentially Japanese, such as the tea-ceremony society of his wife’s practice into which he chose to marry, even as an ex-Asakusa street kid, I think he pictured the Japanese folk as a way of typifying human responses to the environment their work practices for survival necessitated. A photographer, like any other sensitive human being we may call an artist, feels the concrete human through his or her manifestation of its physical trace. Hamaya was disenchanted with humanity after 1960, if not implicitly since 1942, but one cannot think his earlier attempts to express its universal form were entirely without hope.
Hamaya Hiroshi: A Chronology (1915-1999)
Compiled by John Clark
This chronology is based mostly on my 2011 reading of Hamaya’s own recollections in Senzô, Zanzô - shashinka no keikenteki kaisô (Tokyo: Kawade Shobô, 1971); those of his wife, Hamaya Asa, in Onna no hibi, 1986; and the chronology by Kaneko Ryûichi and others in Shashin no seiki: Hamaya Hiroshi Shashintaiken 66-nen, (Tokyo: Tokyo-to Shashin Bijutsukan, 1997). The last is given as one of the sources for the chronology in Judith Keller and Amanda Maddox eds., Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto ( Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), 208–12, with some details not inserted here. The whole text and materials were later referred to Sakai Tadayasu, Tokunaga Ken’ichi, Nomachi Kazuyoshi, Tada Tsuguo, Fujita Hirohiko, et al., Seitan 100-nen: Shashinka Hamaya Hiroshi, Hamaya Hiroshi: Photographs 1930s-–1960s (Tokyo: Crevis, 2015), and its chronology by Katô Aya, which accompanied an exhibition at the Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art and the Setagaya Art Museum, July–November 2015. I am most grateful to Sakai Tadayasu for a copy.
I would like to express my general indebtedness to Kaneko Ryûichi, guest curator, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and to Fukagawa Masafumi, chief curator, Kawasaki City Museum, for extensive advice about and access to materials. I would also like to thank Katano Keisuke and Mr Tada, of Iwanami Shoten, for their careful copy-reading and for considerate correction of some misspellings of Japanese names. The responsibility for the final text is my own.
1915 March 28, born in Ueno, Tokyo, the third son of Hamaya Yonezô and Fuku. His father was a police detective. His younger brother was adopted out to another family with the name Tanaka Masao and a neighbor was Kuwabara Kineo, both of whom worked with him on photography in later years.
1920 At age five, has his first portrait photograph taken at Teshigawara Photo Studios, in Ueno.
1921 April, enters primary school. He changed schools seven times; Middle School was an improvement because all the students were new, but eventually found he was no good at rote learning in a disciplinarian atmosphere. He had a teacher of Chinese, Mr. Matsuura, and a teacher of English, Mr. Fukunaga, who interested him in foreign countries, and another, Mr. Mizuno, taught him the importance of drinking water. He wanted to be a horticulturist.
1923 September, Great Kantô Earthquake occurs; is forced to move home.
1928 Enters Kantô Commercial School (now Kantô no. 1 High School).
1930 At age fifteen, begins to teach himself photography when he receives a Kodak Brownie Hand Camera from his father’s friend Masuno Kinjirô, who had successfully operated a photography shop in Java.
March, takes his first photograph, of his elder brother.
1931 A part of the exhibition Film und Foto, which had been shown in Stuttgart in 1929, tours between Tokyo and Osaka as Doitsu Kokusai Idô Shashinten and includes photograms, photo montages, small camera cityscapes, X-rays, and microscope photographs.
1932 Horino Masao (1907–1999) publishes the photobook Me, Tetsu Kôsei (Eye x Steel: Composition), which contains Neue Sachlichkeit elements, seen by many artists, among whom is the printmaker Ono Tadashige. Photographic monthly Kôga (Light Pictures) begins publication.
1933 March, Hamaya graduates from Kantô Commercial School, where he had formed a photography section.
April, Mizuno Katsukiyo recommends him for a first job at the Research Institute for Aerial Photography in Nihonbashi. It was dissolved after three months without his receiving any salary.
April, takes his first aerial photographs of Ginza (following the aerial photographs of Nadar over Paris in 1858 and by Jnr. Lt. Tokugawa in Japan in 1911) from a Samson single-engine biplane with a Goerz Anschütz Ango camera.
October, enters Oriental Photographic Industries Ltd (now Cyber Graphics Ltd) and works at the Ginza office, where he knew Watanabe Yoshio and Tamura Sakae, of the advertising department. At this time, there was a shift from overseas to domestic manufactured materials to satisfy the boom in amateur photography. He learned photographic techniques from Matsuno Kinya, who was the darkroom technician; later, the two men went out drinking after work. (Hamaya would become known for his rigorous attention to darkroom technique.)
December, Kimura Ihei exhibits Leica portraits of famous literary people at Kinokuniya Bookshop Gallery. This introduces Hamaya to the existence of photographers other than at commercial studios. Watanabe Yoshio taught him how to use a large studio camera to visually describe the character of writers, a move that coincided with the rise of shinkô shashin [New Photography], also indebted to German photography, but Hamaya was not interested in proletarian art.
1934 Listens to lectures at the Oriental Photography School.
October, the first issue of the gravure-printed propaganda magazine Nippon is printed. The editor is Natori Yônosuke.
1935 Obtains a Leica C from Kuwabara Kineo and starts photographing downtown genre scenes in Ginza and Asakusa, before and after work at Oriental Photography.
1936 Starts out as a professional photographer by immersing himself in journalism.
February 26, is not aware of the coup d’état until he hears about it on the radio. People thronged the streets as if having nothing to do with the repression of thought and the inclination toward fascism. [Hamaya, 1971, 24]
March, one of his photographs of the Tokyo Racetrack is published in Mainichi Shimbun’s magazine Home Life. Hamaya was not interested in the racing; rather, he was interested in the people watching the horses. He was entranced by illustrations of Takei Takeo; he photographed children for Fujin Gahô and writers, such as Ibuse Masuji and Kawabata Yasunari, for Shôgakusei Zenshû, Photographic style moves from the New Objectivity Movement [Shinsokubutsushugi —Neue Sächlichkeit] to the Newly Arising Movment [Shinkô]; casting off naturalism, he became conscious of the modern. [Hamaya, 1971, 20; see Iizawa in Keller and Maddox, 2013, 14, for full citation.] He later compares himself to Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, who were then photographing the Spanish Civil War. He was twenty-one and Capa was twenty-three. Hamaya later noted that Life began publication in 1936 and Look in 1937, and for him graphic journalism marked a shift from the culture of an age of reading to a culture of looking.
1937 February, Photo Taimusu publishes Hamaya’s first reportage series (from December 1936) on street life in Ginza.
July 7, outbreak of Sino-Japanese Eight Years’ War.
July, family goes to live in Ômori, Araijuku, because his parents think the environment in Ueno is bad for their children’s education. Hamaya and an older brother, Tanaka Masao, set up a freelance studio, called Ginkôbo, in the garden. This brother had graduated from the Printing Section of Tokyo Higher Craft School. The two managed for two years with some magazine work but no commercial assignments. As a freelancer, Hamaya had no contract with a commercial studio or a newspaper. Based in Tokyo from 1937 to 1945. (This home would be destroyed in the Tokyo fire raids of early 1945.) Leaves the Oriental Photography company; receives Brassai’s Paris de Nuit, 1933, with an essay by Paul Morand, as a farewell gift.
August 14, promulgation of Military Secrets Law, forbidding taking photographs in many places without military consent.
1938 July, participates in Youth Reportage Research Group with Domon Ken and Tanaka Yasuo. With Takiguchi Shûzô, Nagata Isshû, and Abe Nobuya, Tanaka Masao founds the Zen‘ei Shashin Kyôkai [Avant-garde Photography Association]. The next year, the name became Zôkeishashin kenkyûkai [Formative Photography Research Association], which was less sensitive and attracted less attention. Hamaya at this time was stimulated by the work of Man Ray, Dulac, and Moholy-Nagy, and by the surrealism of André Breton.
Hamaya remembers the book by Nagai Kafû, Omokage [Reminiscence] — short stories, small essays, and Kafû’s hokku — that had twenty-four leaves of photographs inserted with haiku by Kafû as well as two portraits of him, all apparently taken by Kafû himself, a kind of mini-anthology of Asakusa customs and scenes of the early Shôwa period. [Hamaya, 1971, 28–30].
1939 Photographs the painter Fujita Tsuguharu (later Léonard Foujita), just returned from the war, for the January issue of Fujin Gahô. The February issue contained backstage shots of variety shows in Asakusa. “It must be said [the fact] that I and the journalists did not feel too many contradictions was a very large contradiction. [Hamaya, 1971, 28]
January, for the first time goes to the “Snow Country,” Takada, in Niigata Prefecture, to photograph the winter exercises of the Takada Regiment ski unit for Gurahikku, an outspoken fortnightly graphic magazine providing domestic and foreign news. Hamaya there meets Ichikawa Shinji, an ethnologist in charge of Shibusawa Keizô’s “Attic Museum” (later destroyed during the firebombing) in Tokyo. Hamaya is said to have asked Ishikawa “Why do people live in such a cruel nature?” to which Ichikawa replied, “Humans don’t decide where they live, the climate creates the human beings.” [Sakai et al., 2015, 15]
Hamaya is urged to read Watsuji Tetsurô’s Fûdo: Ningenteki kôsatsu [Cultural Habitus as an Expression of Climatic Environment: Observations from a Human Point of View]. Takes photographs, among them of the goze¸ a blind female street singer, which he takes to Shibusawa’s museum on arriving back in Tokyo.
Shibuzawa often spoke of the common people. In Japanese he used the word jômin, the ordinary, everyday people. And he pressed for the work of excavating the culture of the common people against that of the ruling class. [Hamaya, 1971, 41]
Shibusawa’s academic method was very empirical. As far as possible, one observed agricultural ceremonies and annual customs, recorded them by film or photograph, took down oral notes, and collected materials from actual objects via agricultural implements and so forth. I was taught the value as records of photographs He was kind enough to value me by saying that that in my photographs the heart [the sensibility embodying/embodied by the meaning of the objects] was transcribed. [Hamaya 1971, 42]
1940 February, under the direction of Ichikawa, visits the village of Kuwatoridani, in Niigata, where Hamaya researches and photographs customs of the six-day “Minor” New Year (as calculated by the pre-Western lunar calendar). He turns toward the ethnology of Shibusawa Keizô, with whom he is in contact for the next ten years.
In this wintry village of just twenty-five rooves among the valleys of Echigo when one sees the classic[al form] of a magnificent way of living, one can envisage the richness and depth of the spiritual life which has passed through such a long history. To harvest rice is not just an exchange of energy via physical labour. A deep confluence with the gods was required in the hearts of the farmers who built a golden national land from the impoverished Japanese archipelago. [Hamaya, 1971, 38, from his photo essay Yukiguni (Snow Country), 1957].
June, photographs in Manchuria for one month at the invitation of Manchurian Railways. This colonial development company produced eight photographic magazines. The photographers were divided into two teams: the industrial team, to which Hamaya was assigned, and the tourism team.
September 27, Tripartite Pact is signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan.
1941 Law on Integration [Gleischaltung] of Magazines is imposed, by which thirty photo magazines are consolidated into four. In the end, only Shashin Bunka [Photo Culture] was left; its name was changed to Shashin Kagaku [Photo Science].
February 4, the date of the request signed by Army Major Ueda of the photography unit in the Information Bureau and dispatched to China that Hamaya should serve the army. He received a similar request from Natori Yônosuke, then in China, but Hamaya refused.
April, first publishes his Snow Country photographs in Shashin Bunka.
May 1, enters photography section of Tôhôsha on nomination of Kimura Ihei; photographs army and navy subjects for the propaganda magazine Front.
August, takes photographs at the submarine school at Marines School, on Edajima.
November, Tôhôsha photographers are sent to shoot navy dummy exercises, and at that time writers, painters, comic artists, photographers, and journalists are called up.
December 8, hears on the radio that “we have entered a state of war with the US and British forces.”
1942 June, photographs mock dogfights by Japanese aircraft over Tokorozawa. The same image was reused with a fake P-38 fighter inserted in January 1944.
August, musters for military training but is put in third grade.
September, covers ten-year Anniversary Ceremonies of Manchuria for Tôhôsha and photographs Kantô army.
November, leaves Tôhôsha over the company’s refusal to pay for injuries of a cameraman and because of his own refusal of a company request to take photographs in Rabaul. Four days after resigning, receives an assignment to photograph the painter Kawabata Ryûshi for the magazine Shinbijutsu and then photographs Yoshioka Kenji for a special issue of “Photographic Portraits of Painters Despatched to the War.” [Hamaya, 1971, 69–70]
1943 Sets out on a journey to photograph images for a new edition of the poet Bashô’s Narrow Road to Deep North for the three hundredth anniversary of Bashô’s birth.
December 10, is summoned for People’s Service Work, during which he explains the importance and effects of photographic work.
1944 Discovers that through an acquaintance he had made six months earlier he is to work for the Pacific News Photo Service, Taiheiyô Tsûshinsha, part of the external propaganda arm of the Foreign Ministry. Photographs famous figures such as Suzuki Daisetsu, Yukawa Hideki, and Uemura Shôen.
July, to protect against air raids moves all the negatives, prints, and materials from fifteen years’ work to Takada. While in Takada, is called up for military service with marines atYokosuka. Hamaya says he is anemic and a doctor says he has heart valve disease. Hamaya is sent home after one week’s training, for reasons he could not be sure of but probably due to issues of health. [Hamaya, 1971, 86–87].
October or November, on a clear day sees a B-29 over Tokyo as he is about to enter the offices of Senji Josei [War Woman], formerly Fujin Gahô [Housewife’s Illustrated].
1945 photographs shooting down of a B-29 over Omori.
July, takes photographic equipment and documents to Takada, going back and forth to Tokyo to make the transfer.
August 15, noon, hears the Emperor’s radio announcement of defeat and rushes outside to photograph the sun over Takada. “The war had ended. At the greatest cost in sacrifice and misery in human history Japan was defeated. It is difficult for me to accurately record here the deep emotions I had at that time. Various feelings from before, during, and after the war overlap and I find it hard to record them precisely.” [Sakai, et al., 2015, 203; and Hamaya, 1971, 97]
[In 1970] I recalled twenty-five years ago with many thoughts whirling around as a member of the Taishô generation which had the most sacrifices forced on it during and after the war. [Hamaya, 1971, 100]
Unable to photograph because of a lack of materials, he turns his hand to writing and keeps a diary for the first time, from 3 July to 31 December.
Autumn, brother visits him in Takada and suggests a Tokyo comeback but Hamaya is not ready.
1945-52 Lives in Takada, Niigata (present-day Jôetsu City), thereafter moves to live in a house situated behind Teramachi Zendôji, where he knew Oda Takeo, Horiguchi Daigaku (a poet).
1946 January 9, photographs first tea ceremony of the year on behalf of his colleague Tamura, with whom Hamaya shares a darkroom.
January 16–20, exhibits photographs of Deep Snow in Takada to show the life of people in the first spring after the war. Tea master sees his exhibition and wants to send a present but Hamaya declines because he had photographed only for his colleague but was invited to a tea ceremony instead. Sees his future wife, Asa, for the first time, performing the tea ceremony.
That photography must not be an inferior version of painting is the realization of modern photography. In studying photography I avoid the plastic formativity of painting and look for the narrativity of literature, approaching what it is to be human. Even so, because it would be troubling for photography to lose its own character, this has to be without going too deeply into literature, and in particular to not be too familiar with poetry. [Hamaya, 1971, 110]
Works from Takada Exhibition published in first postwar edition of Sekai Gahô.
1947 January 21, visits Aizu Yaichi, a calligrapher in Niigata, and reportedly says:
The idea that photography is art is a dangerous and extremely conceited intellectual position. It overturns the sequence of the theory of art and the theory of photography, which very unfortunately has become the central, guiding principle of the photographic world. What is most valuable is the naturalistic recording character of photography [arguably Hamaya’s non-semiotic argument points to “indexical”]. In photographic portraiture, both the depiction of particularity and the basis for resemblance must be grasped by means of the recording intent. [Sakai et al., 2015, 19]
May, holds second one-person exhibition, Seven Echigo artists, in various places in Takada and nearby towns.
August 24, death of father; Hamaya thinks from postwar malnutrition.
November, publishes photograph of Horiguchi Daigaku in Shôsetsu Shinchô.
1948 May 5, marries Asa (1910–1985), second daughter of a banker who is also a hereditary tea master in Niigata. She had first married in about 1932 to a scholar named Matsumoto Shûji, a historian of Shiryô Hensanjo at Tokyo University, who was from Takada but died in 1944 after being drafted during the war; they had had no children. [Hamaya Asa, 1985, 8, 119, 247] After her first husband’s death, Asa had returned to Takada to live with her old mother-in-law and taught tea ceremony and piano. Horiguchi Daigaku and his wife were go-betweens. Hamaya Hiroshi was thirty-three when he married; Asa was thirty-seven. They were not to have children.
1949–1954 sees some of his portraits of local figures and national artistic celebrities in magazines such as Kamera (the editor, Kuwahara Kineo, had come to his wedding); Asahi Kamera (issue no. 1, 1950) published Hamaya’s portrait of Yasui Sôtarô (in October the same magazine published Hamaya’s portrait of Takamura Kôtarô);, Bungei Shunjû (which asked Hamaya for a text; he wrote “A Doctor’s Tale” about an ophthalmologist, Dr. Kojima Hikozô, in Takada]; and Chûô Kôron.
1950 Bought the new Leica III 1 with help from his wife, who sold her kimonos, and a Bo loan.
1952 Beginning in March, is based in Ôiso-machi, Kanagawa Prefecture.
1953 Photographs Tokyo from the air from the first civil helicopter for Bungei Shunjû.
1954 October, in Niigata begins three-year travels around the twelve prefectures facing the Sea of Japan to photograph for the series Ura Nihon.
Old things were destroyed for the sake of social progress. Whilst the fact that they would disappear was unavoidably part of the flow of time, even thus on had to give serious attention to the complete removal of the traces of tradition. At that time I pushed forward my work in strongly emphasizing the recording propensity of photography. In particular I was concerned about the necessity to put on record now, whilst it was with us in some form or another, the ethnos [minzoku] which had the basic function in forming the human. [Hamaya, 1971, 152]
Publishes “Camerascope” in Sankei Kamera.
1955 September, publishes the series Ura Nihon [Back-country Japan] in both Chûô Kôron and Kamera. Among the photographs is “Woman Planting Rice.” Toyama Prefecture. The series was first turned down by the editor of Chûô Kôron as “uninteresting.”
Shows his photographs as part of Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man exhibition in New York, Tokyo, and other countries worldwide.
1956 Photographs in China for forty-five days. (On third visit, makes portraits of Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong.)
I first became conscious of nature itself in 1956 when I experienced China. When I flew above the desert which stretches from Gansu to Xinjiang Provinces, I was overwhelmed by the immensity of that nature. Moved, I held my breath. It was not just because it was quite alien to the nature of Japan. The desert which stretches to the deepest interior of the globe made me imagine the primitive skin of the globe. Or, the earth appeared to have weathered or petrified. It was a pitiless world which denied existence to both plants and animals. [Hamaya, 1971, 220]
March, publishes first photo-essay book Yukiguni [Snow Country], Niigata Prefecture, as a supplement to Camera Mainichi.
1957 Holds exhibition Mite kita Chûgoku [The China I Have Been to See].
October, publishes the photobook Ura Nihon [Back Japan]. (The sense of “Back” Ura is of the other side of Japan away from the Pacific and of villages away from traditional urban centers of high culture who tenaciously survive despite their relative isolation.)
I experienced the feeling that a difference in region is a difference in time. If you go from Beijing to Xi’an there are new buildings there, in the end you feel that it was the Tang capital Chang’an and that a period drama is performed of life of the Tang period which is being managed at a different speed. If next you go 3600 kilometers further from Beijing to the area of the North West border, in Urumchi the capital of Xinjiang Province I had the notion I had jumped into a group of people from before the Middle Ages. Maybe the Chinese in China they wouldn’t feel this way looking at China, and likewise Japanese in Japan wouldn’t feel this way looking at Japan. I think you experience this when people jump into another group from their own. [Sakai et al, 2015, 208; from Uranihon, 1957 opening pages.]
This year, received the 1st Japan Photo Critics and Writers’ Prize.
1958 Publishes photo-essay collection of Mite kita Chûgoku.
1959 Shows Yukiguni photographs in the Netherlands.
1960 January, first Asian photographer contracted to Magnum Photos.
In a word, Magnum’s spirit was a respect for humanity. It focussed down on the problems of humanity beyond the state, ethnos, and system and worked for mutual understanding through photography. [Hamaya, 1971, 193]
January 19, is commissioned to photograph for a series by Chûô Kôron magazine on the signing of the US–Japan Security Treaty. The experience deeply marks his own political awakening. (See Sakai et al., 2015, 209)
May 20 and after, photographs anti-US–Japan Security Treaty riots for Paris Match (June 25) and other European magazines. Work on demonstrations and their suppression also appears in Camera Geijutsu, Nihon Camera.
So long as the violence of money was not swept away it was not a true election. If in a general election the individual will of the people, the will for truth, does not operate, the election has no meaning. If the situation continues in which distrust of elections and distrust of politics is not wiped away, revolutionary thought can arise. Youth which values purity will quickly run off in that direction. It is closer to the facts to say this is idealism rather than communism. Rather than communism, what made the students regard the government as their enemy was the violent ideology of Japanese politics and politicians. [Hamaya, 1971, 204]
May, visits Thailand for Chûô Kôron.
Summer, Hamaya is told by the writer Shishi Bunroku on the train from Ôiso, “They saw you’ve become a red [communist],” which he had heard as a rumor passing between editors. [Hamaya, 1971, 209] Hamaya was astounded at the opportunism of political ideas, disliking as he did both red and black and hating the politicians and political parties of Japan. The rumor was not merely a lie; it brought to a complete halt orders from magazines.
August Ikari to Kanshimi no Kiroku is published by Kawadeshobô Shinsha, from contributions to Camera Mainichi.
August (and earlier, in March) contributes to exhibition Magnum Global and holds a one-person show, Ikari to Kanshimi no Kiroku, at Matsuya department store in Ginza [Record of Grief and Anger], about 1960 anti–Security Treaty demonstrations, also published as photo collection in August by Kawadeshobô Shinsha at a very low price.
Begins photographing the Nihon Rettô [Japanese Archipelago] series.
The idea of nature and view of landscape of Japanese was carried on just as it was in landscape photography. I decided to distance myself from this Japanese notion and to look at the nature of Japan scientifically. I first got rid of the attitude of viewing nature. [Hamaya, 1971, 210]
He goes on to scientifically study it structurally, geo-morphologically, and geologically.
The nature left in Japan was extremely rare. Humanity had entered into its deepest recesses. In that situation I avoided at all costs anything with the stink of humanity. I consciously separated off all except nature. One could say I began by denying humanity. [Hamaya, 1971, 224]
1961 January, special issue of the Swiss magazine Du on Ura Nihon.
In subsequent years he would visit Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Nepal, Australia, Greenland, and Algeria.
September, photographs Japanese student movement for Magnum assignment. Students of the World is published in Life and the Sunday Times.
1962 November, appears in and contributes photographs to German TV ZDF documentary on the history of photography.
March, goes on assignment to photograph for Deutsche Welle 2 documentary about Germans working as seen by a Japanese. Also travels to France and Switzerland.
1963 April, revisits Okinawa.
1964 January, decides to build a house of his own design in Ôiso.
August, on assignment for Magnum “16.07 GMT 17 August 1964” at a hot spring in Yamagata.
November, December, publishes photographs critical of US–Japan relations in journal Sekai.
Also in 1964, Hamaya is one of thirty-five photographers included in Fritz Grüber’s Grosse Photographen unsere Jahrhunderts and presents works for a collection at MoMA, New York.
1965 February 2, Hamaya’s article “My Shôwa History,” in Niigata Nippô, yûkan:
[A]s the responsibility of a person who had experienced the forty years of Shôwa, these works [Yukiguni, Uranihon, Ikari to kanashimi no kiroku Nihonrettô] were works I had to do. How could I continue to defend individual happiness [and ask] what is the peace of humankind, were work I had to think about together with other people. Now I stand outside the history of Shôwa and from this point on look hard at the history of Shôwa. I am now furnished with enough self-awareness and strength not to be embroiled once again in the whirlpool of the times. [Sakai et al., 2015, 9]
Is one of twelve photographers in the International Exhibition of Modern Photography at MoMA, New York.
December, moves into his new house in Ôiso.
1967 Goes on a three-month, 28,530 km journey for seventy-one days through the United States and Mexico.
1968 Is executive committee chair for Japan Photographers Association’s 100 Years of Japanese Photography exhibition at Seibu, Ikebukuro (three or four years in preparation).
1969 January 31 to March 14, gives a one-man show, Hamaya’s Japan, at Asian House, New York. Takes wife for “old marriage honeymoon” to Paris, London, Zurich, Rome, Cairo, Calcutta, and Hong Kong.
1970 Publishes recollections in fifty-five issues of Tokyo Shimbun as Kyozô Jitsuzô [False and Actual Images]. Book postface is dated October 10, 1970.
Staring this year, moves from a “thinking photographer” to an “‘unthinking photographer” who “wanted to think beyond photography.” [Sakai et al., 2015, 211].
1971 Publishes his memoir Senzô, Zanzô — shashinka no keikenteki kaisô [Latent and After-Images: Experiential Recollections of a Photographer]. For years, travels throughout Japan, from Hokkaidô to Kyûshû.
1972 Resigns from Japan Photographers Association. Contributes photographs to Cornell Capa’s edited The Concerned Photographer : The Photographs of Marc Riboud, Roman Vishniac, Bruce Davidson, Gordon Parks, Ernst Haas, Hiroshi Maya, Donald McCullin.
1973 Begins photographing for the series World’s Remaining Nature. Enters work at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Also exhibits in The Concerned Photographer 2 (New York).
1974 Exhibits in The Concerned Photographer 2: Witnesses to the Times by Eight World Photographers at Isetan Store, in Shinjuku. Tokyo. Travels to Nepal to produce aerial photography of Mount Everest from 9,600 meters. Makes an animated film with cover designer Awazu Kiyoshi, Spring Summer Autumn Winter.
1975 Starting in August, goes on extensive photographic trips to Australia to Ayers Rock, Mount Orga, Krischof Range, and the Pinnacles desert, followed by a visit to Fiji and Tonga.
1976 August, travels to Greenland.
1977 Photographs in Hawaii.
1978 Photographs in Nepal and the Himalayas. He also travels to North and South America and Antarctica.
1979 Photographs in North Africa, the Sahara, and Cappadocia in Turkey.
1980 Photographs in the People’s Republic of China (his fourth visit).
1981 Goes to Australia and New York.
1982 Exhibits Form of the Earth in Pentax Forum, Tokyo. He also begins photographing literary figures, such as Ishikawa Jun and Kaiko Ken.
1983Fifty Years of Hamaya Hiroshi Photographs, in Beijing. Travels to Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai and gives four interviews to NHK.
1984 Exhibits in the group show China in Everyday Clothes, Today and Yesterday at Doi Photo Plaza, Tokyo.
1985 Contributes to A Day in the Life of Japan. His wife, Asa, completes the draft of her book Onna no Hibi [A Woman’s Days] but goes into the hospital.
July, after surgery, Asa passes away.
November, Onna no Hibi is published.
December, Hamaya goes to India to scatter Asa’s ashes in the Ganges.
1986 Receives Master of Photography Award at the International Center of Photography, New York, a commemorative exhibition held simultaneously there and in Tokyo.
Summer, enters hospital for the first time in his life with exhaustion and heart problems. Goes to India, including Rishikesh and Varanasi, to scatter ashes and pray for the repose of his wife.
1987 Has personal exhibition at La Défense, in Paris; visits France and Spain.
October 20, receives the Hasselblad Foundation Award. The press release reads:
The Hasselblad award was presented for the seventh time on Tuesday 20 October 1987. The award winner, Hiroshi Hamaya, Tokyo, Japan, received the award from Her Royal Highness Princess Lilian, at a ceremony at the Röhsska museum in Göteborg. The award sum was USD 25,000. In conjunction with the ceremony an exhibit of the award winner's photographs was displayed at the Röhsska museum.
No citation was published in 1987. A summary and translation from Swedish of the press release:
Hiroshi Hamaya is one of the most eminent documentary photographers in Japan today. His preferred subjects are people and nature. His interest in nature is not, however, limited to the Japanese countryside but to unspoilt nature around the world. As part of recording nature, Hamaya has also documented human life in its many variations. Although he intended his photos to be scientific records, they also have an aesthetic rendering: Hamaya has made an art form of documentary photography.
[Thanks to the Hasselblad Foundation for materials.]
1988 Goes to Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Saga, to photograph for the series “Men of Shôwa.”
1989 Presents a thousand works to the Kawasaki City Museum, where he exhibits and which publishes a “Reader for the Photographer Hamaya Hiroshi.” Travels to New York, Arizona, and Los Angeles. Exhibits “Men of Shôwa” and “Women of Shôwa” in Tokyo and Osaka.
1990 Publishes a book of photographic portraits of himself, I, and a revised and expanded version of his memoir Senzô, Zanzô.
1994 A store is created at Ôiso for his photographs and materials.
1995 March, eightieth birthday. The Hanshin Earthquake and the Aum Shinrikyô sarin gas attacks take place. Until the previous year, Hamaya had supported the thesis of the goodness of human nature, but now accepts the idea that humanity is evil.
1996 Breaks the third lumbar vertebra and because of a brain infarction loses movement of his upper-right torso.
1996/1997 Becomes an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, London.
1997 January to March, works are on display in a retrospective of sixty-six years’ work at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.
1999 March 6, dies of pneumonia in Kyôundô, a Hiratsuka hospital.
Hamaya Hiroshi (1915-1999), Bibliography
[I would like to express my general indebtedness to Kaneko Ryûichi, guest curator, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and Fukagawa Masafumi, Chief Curator, Kawasaki City Museum, for extensive advice on and access to materials. The most comprehensive lists of Hamaya’s publications are in Shashin no seiki: Hamaya Hiroshi Shashintaiken 66-nen, Tokyo: Tokyo-to Shashin Bijutsukan, 1997, and Sakai Tadayasu, Tokunaga Ken’ichi, Nomachi Kazuyoshi, Tada Tsuguo, Fujita Hirohiko et al, Seitan 100-nen: Shashinka Hamaya Hiroshi, Hamaya Hiroshi: Photographs 1930s-1960s, Tokyo: Crevice, 2015].
Books, Articles, Interviews by Hamaya Hiroshi
Hamaya published many photo collections and the following lists only those I have seen. I am most grateful to Kaneko Ryûichi, guest curator, and to the library of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography for their kind assistance. Their index lists forty-four titles by Hamaya Hiroshi or titles that include his work.
Texts on Hamaya Hiroshi and Recollections
Selected Japanese Photography 1920s–80s
Other Photography Texts and Catalogues
Parts of this essay were remarks at a symposium in honor of Professor Toshio Watanabe at the University of Melbourne in September 2013; and in its entirety in October 2013 as the Shih Hsio-yen Lecture of the University of Hong Kong. For the invitation to present, I am grateful to the Department of Fine Arts and Professor Greg M. Thomas. This essay forms part of my forthcoming book, The Asian Modern.
See the literature on photography in Judith Keiler and Amanda Maddox (eds.), Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto, Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013.
See Gennifer Weisenfeld, “Publicity and Propaganda in 1930s’ Japan: Modernism as Method,” published in French as “Publicité et propagande dans le Japon des années 1930: Le modernisme comme méthode,” in Jean-Jacques Tschudin and Claude Hamon (eds.), La société Japonaise devant la montée du militarisme: Culture populaire et contrôle social dans les années 1930, Arles: Editions Philippe Picquier, 2007.
I am grateful to a detailed conversation with Kaneko Ryûichi of June 15, 2011, in which he outlined the differences in market distribution of professional photographs and photojournalism in Japan before and after the Eight Years’ War (1938–45).
Omuka Toshiharu, to whom I am grateful for the following information in an e-mail of 19 August 2013. He notes that Munakata Hisakata (1889–1970) bought a watercolor from Otto Dix, San Pauri no Ryôriten (Restaurant at St. Pauli, cat. no. 21), which was shown in 1924 at the Garô Kudan in an exhibition titled Hokuô Shikô Bijutsuten (Dec. 1–15. ). It was lost during the Eight Years’ War. Omuka also indicates that contemporary Japanese writings on Dix and Neue Sachlichkeit included Tsuji Tsunehiko, “Hyôgenha igo no josei,” in Chûô Bijutsu, October 1925, and Nakada Sadanosuke, “Shin jitsuzai no Geijutsu” (a two-part article in Chûô Bijutsu, June and July 1926). Tsuji was not an art critic; he was more active in theater and translation of German literature. Leftist artists such as Yanase Masamu were also interested in realism. A useful academic paper on the issues of German art relations with Japan in the 1920s is Satô Yoshihiro, “Futatsu no Doitsu Gendai Bijutsuten: sono gaiyô ni kansuru kenkyû nooto,” in Uehara Kazu Hakase koki kinen bijutsushi ronshû, March 1995.
These have been donated to the library at the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura and Hayama.
Hamaya Hiroshi, Senzô, Zanzô - shashinka no keikenteki kaisô, [Latent-image, After-image, Experiential Recollections of a Photographer], Tokyo: Kawade Shobô, 1971, 20 [articles in Tokyo Shinbum from July 14, 1970, to October 12, 1970; republished as Senzô zanzô: Shashin taiken 60 nen, Tokyo: Chikuma Shobô, 1991]; see also Iizawa in Keller and Maddox, 2013, 14, for full citation. Hamaya Hiroshi, Uranihon: hamaya hiroshi shashinshū, [foreword by Kawabata Yasunari, colophon by Munakata Shikô], Tōkyō: Shinchōsha, 1957, includes statements that might amount to non-Marxist humanist manifestos in post-1945 Japan.
Hamaya, 1971, 24.
Moholy-Nagy met the Japanese banker Munakata Hisakata on April 19, 1923, in Weimar. The first Japanese photograph close to those by Moholy-Nagy was that of 1925 by Takegawa Hachirô. See 226, 278 in Mizusawa Tsutomu, “Hikari wo taguru te – Moholy-Nagy to Nihon no deai, saishôki no jirei kara,” 224–28, translated as “The Hand That Reaches for the Light: Moholy-Nagy’s First Encounters with Japan,” 275–81, in Iguchi Toshirô kanshû, Shikaku no jikkenshitsu: Moholy-Nagy in Motion, Art Inter, 2011.
Hamaya, 1971, 38, from his photobook Yukiguni [Snow Country], 1956. There seems to be a direct link between Hamaya’s sensibility, at least up to the 1950s, and the prewar so-called kankakuteki bungaku [literature of sensation], Its leading proponent, Kawabata Yasunari, had published his own novel with the same name Yukiguni in installments between 1935 and 1947, according to Wikipedia. As noted above, Kawabata wrote the foreword for Hamaya’s Ura Nihon, 1957.
It had been quite obvious since early 1942 that Japan would be defeated, because its empire did not have the resources to combat the United States in a war that lasted beyond six weeks. In the absence of oil from Southeast Asia, its stocks would have been exhausted by December 1942. Among many other historical indications about this weakness, the concealment of which constitutes militarist adventurism of the worst kind, in July 1941 the then colonel, later lieutenant general, Suzuki Teiichi fabricated documents for the Cabinet that purported to show that Japan, whose annual ship production was 600,000 ton, could afford to lose 800,000 tons per annum. This was unchallenged by other officers. For recently unearthed papers, see http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/14/national/papers-that-pushed-for-pacific-war-revisited-2/#.UhGJKtI3CyU.
See note 5, Kaneko interview.
Ishimoto was born in San Francisco but after a stay to Japan, in the 1920s and 1930s, in 1939 he went back to the United States, where he was educated in photography from 1948 to 1952 before another stay in Japan (1953 to 1959). In 1961 he returned permanently to Japan and became a Japanese citizen in 1969. For details, see Ishimoto Yasuhiro Shashinten, Mito: Mito Geijutsukan Gallery, 2010.
The qualification “‘Red” has unfortunately been used in the translation of Hamaya’s exhibition title and subsequent book of photographs although it is not there in the original Japanese: Mite kita Chûgoku [The China I Have Been to See]. The insertion of “Red” in the title of earlier US translations and recently reused in a major catalogue, masks Hamaya’s non-ideological position. See Keiler and Maddox (eds.), Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto, Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013, 44.
Hamaya Asa, Onna no hibi, Tokyo: Bunka Shuppan Kyoku, 1985, 8, 119, 247. This book, with all its firm but supple expression of a woman’s life from a non-Euro-American yet still recognizable world, surely merits a sympathetic feminist translation into English. Hamaya Hiroshi’s autobiography, one of the few by an early post-1945 photographer, should also be translated.
See Kuki Shûzô, Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki [translated by John Clark], Sydney: Power Publications, 1997, 81; and Kuki Shûzô, The Structure of Detachment: The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Shûzô [translated by Hiroshi Nara], Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004, 38–39.