Aperture Magazine

The magazine of photography and ideas

Tomatsu on the Americans (Video)

A panel discussion on Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu at Aperture gallery.

 - June 3, 2014

Shomei Tomatsu (1930–2012), one of Japan’s foremost twentieth-century photographers, created one of the defining portraits of postwar Japan. Beginning in the late 1950s, Tomatsu committed to photographing as many of the American military bases in Japan as possible, focusing on the seismic impact of the American victory and occupation: uniformed American soldiers carousing in red-light districts with Japanese women; foreign children at play in seedy landscapes, home to American forces; and the emerging protest formed in response to the ongoing American military presence. Images from one of his iconic series from this time were recently published by Aperture as the book Chewing Gum and Chocolate.


On May 20, we joined photographer and curator Leo Rubinfien (editor and essayist of Chewing Gum and Chocolate), Dr. Miwako Tezuka, and Matthew Witkovsky for a panel discussion on Tomatsu’s work and influence on a generation of Japanese photographers.

View “Tomatsu on the Americans” Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 on Vimeo.