Writings by Japanese Photographers
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Japanese photographers have created a tradition strikingly different from that of their Western counterparts. Their work is based on ideas, rules, and aesthetics that are specific to Japanese culture but often little known in the West. Many photographers throughout the history of the medium in Japan—including master postwar photographers such as Daido Moriyama, Shomei Tomatsu, and Nobuyoshi Araki—have produced substantial bodies of written work that form an essential counterpart to their visual art. Setting Sun is an anthology of key texts written from the 1950s to the present by Moriyama, Tomatsu, and Araki, as well as by other leading Japanese photographers, including Masahisa Fukase, Takashi Homma, Eikoh Hosoe, Takuma Nakahira, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. The only anthology of its kind to appear in English, Setting Sun makes these texts available in translation to Western readers for the first time and provides a crucial context for photographers who have become increasingly well known and admired in the West. Each chapter in the anthology is devoted to a central idea or theme that is particular to Japanese photography, such as watashi shosetsu (or the "I novel"), the bonds between man and woman, the role of nostalgia, and the shadows of a war lost and of a culture jettisoning its past. These writings vary in form from diary entry to scholarly treatise, but all reflect a clear connection between word and image. This connection is so essential that no comprehensive consideration of Japanese photography can be complete without familiarity with these writings.