As mentioned in the previous post we traveled by train whilst in Japan. Consequently, we spent time in train stations whilst in Tokyo and traveling to Morioka and Osaka from Tokyo. The train stations provided me with limited opportunities to make some photos within a loose reference to, and understanding of, the tradition of Japanese street photography.
This photo below was made whilst we were on the circular JRYamanote Line from Shinjuku to Tokyo Station. We were on our way to catch the Tohoku Shinkansen to the city of Morioka in the Iwate Prefecture located in the Tōhoku region of northern Japan.
I say a loose understanding since the Japanese tradition of classic postwar street photography (sunappu shotto) is usually characterized as a snapshot made with a handheld 35mm camera; black and white film; an ethos of candid spontaneous images; a style favouring rough, blurred, and out of focus images; high contrast tonality; a naive persona of the photographer as a hunter on the streets and photographic truth as evidence of reality. The subject matter of are-bure-bok (grainy, blurry, and out-of-focus) has its roots in the mass devastation of war in the form of a shattered, dislocated, military occupied country, which was initially pictured by Ken Domon and Tadahiko Hayashi, was often of Shinjuku’s dark alleyways (eg., Golden Gai) the bar areas of large cities, urban streets and railway stations and US military bases.
The work of the two main post-war groups — VIVO and Provoke — was surveyed and exhibited by John Szarkowski at Museum of Modern Art’s New Japanese Photography exhibition in New York in 1974. It concentrated on the men photographers in the 1960s. Though some photographers such as Ishiuchi Miyako’s 1977 Yokosuka Story, Tatsuo Suzuki, Takashi Hamaguchi and Kitai Kazuo continued to work within this classic black and white tradition, the orthodox understanding of street photography was questioned in the 1990s including its general disregard the images of women photographers as girl photos. With female street photographers (such as, Kawauchi Rinko, Mikko Hara and Ume Kayo), the tradition broadened, became more reflexive and critical of its classical assumptions about realism, objectivity, experience, gender and subjectivity.