PDN Photo of the Day

Long Ago Tokyo

In this new book, Tokyokei, by Issei Suda, published by Nazraeli Press, we see the Tokyo of the photographer’s youth. That Tokyo, he noted in the book, has “vanished,” overtaken by the city’s development into one of the most modern metropolises in the world. Suda, whose recognition as an important Japanese post-war photographer has grown in recent years, made the never-before-published “snapshots” during the 1970s and 1980s, working with medium-format, black-and-white film on the streets of his hometown. The book is a delight. On one spread we see a woman climbing through a hole in a chain-link fence, opposite a photograph of the head of a geisha mannequin sitting in a store window. We see a suited salaryman through the window of a restaurant, sitting alone, stretching noodles with a pair of chopsticks. Another businessman descends into an old subway station. There is a nighttime view of a massive fishing vessel at port. Lovers in a moment of contemplation, silhouetted against a pond. There are nurses and schoolboys and street-side bookstores; dogs and cats, and a parrot peering from a window. There are old women in traditional dress, one propped up by a gnarled wooden walking stick. There are beautiful young women walking or occasionally posing for the photographer. And throughout the book, the photographer’s use of light and shadow moves and coaches the reader’s eye. The book is a typical Nazraeli object, produced at a large, 10 x 13-inch trim size, printed on special Japanese art paper, slipcased, and hand-numbered and signed by the artist.  “As well as being a record of a certain period in Japanese history,” Suda wrote in his introduction, “this book is also my own private perspective on my hometown, and the one I want to hold in my heart forever.”

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