03 October 2013

Photographers Who Inspire Me: Hiromi Tsuchida

Hiromi Tsuchida (born 1939 in Fukui Prefecture)
Through his photography, Hiromi Tsuchida explores what it means to be Japanese. Throughout his career, he has documented various aspects of Japanese life, including an examination of the role of traditional Japanese customs and rituals in the face of modernization -- Zokushin, Gods of the Earth (1969-1975), an analysis of the evolution of the crowd in Japanese society -- Counting Grains of Sand and New Counting Grains of Sand (1975-1989) and a profound exploration of the impact of the bombing at Hiroshima -- Hiroshima 1975-1978 (1978), Hiroshima (1985), Hiroshima Collection (1995) and Hiroshima Monument II (1995). I believe that his work is both of great artistic and sociological value. 

He earned a degree in engineering at Fukui University before enrolling at the Tokyo College of Photography, where he later became a lecturer (1972) and professor (1993). He began his career as a commercial photographer after graduating in 1966, but soon turned to more meaningful work as he embarked upon a new path and became a freelance photographer in 1971. His first solo exhibit, at the Ginza Nikon Salon, was called Jihei kukan (Autistic Space) (1971) and was an introspective look at Japanese culture. This exhibit paved the way for future projects that would delve deeper into Japanese consciousness. 

I was drawn to Hiromi Tsuchida because of my strong affinity for Japan. I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture. I lived in the rural town of Nakatsu in the Oita Prefecture from February 2004 to August 2005 and it was an experience I will never forget. I established friendships with people who are in my life to this day. I have been fortunate enough to take part in Japanese traditions and ceremonies both whilst living there and when visiting Japan in 2007, twice in 2008 and again in 2012. I have visited both the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and what I saw there will remain with me forever. Japan will always hold a special place in my heart and I hope to return someday. 

Asakusa, Tokyo, 1970 from Zokushin © Hiromi Tsuchida

“I have been wandering these past several years in mountains, villages, towns and cities in pursuit, for the most part, of festivals and religious space.,' he writes. 'My wandering was not in response to a definite plan, in fact it was quite arbitrary. I suppose what I was trying to do was to find myself again as a Japanese.”
Kawasaki. 1981. Counting Grains of Sand. © Hiromi Tsuchida
Untitled. Tottori. 2001. New-Counting Grains of Sand. © Hiromi Tsuchida
"Crowds were no longer seas of people but had become a network of small groups that maintained a certain distance from each other."

Lunch Box. 1970. Hiroshima Collection.
 Reiko Watanabe (15 at the time) was doing fire prevention work under the Student Mobilization Order, at a place 500 meters from the hypocenter. Her lunch box was found by school authorities under a fallen mud wall. Its contents of boiled peas and rice, a rare feast at the time, were completely carbonized. Her body was not found.
© Hiromi Tsuchida
"We can never pretend that what happened at Hiroshima has nothing to do with us."


The History of Japanese Photography
by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Ryuichi Kaneko, Dana Frs-Hansen, Dana Friis-Hansen, Takeba Joe, Iizawa Kotaro (Contributor), Kinoshita Naoyuki (Contributor)

The Independent Administrative Institution - National Museum of Art

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