The Japanese Street Photographer To Know
Photograph from Issue No.6, November 2006. Photograph by Mr Daido Moriyama, courtesy of Thames & Hudson
A look at the pioneering pictures of Mr Daidō Moriyama.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been wandering around the streets for as long as I can remember,” wrote Mr Daidō Moriyama in 2010. “Regardless of everything that might have happened in the 20 years before I picked up a camera, and then in the 50 years with a camera that followed, I spent most of my time out on the streets, and that’s where I am still hanging around today.”
This statement is very much borne out in the Japanese master of street photography’s latest book, Record, an overview of his self-published journal of the same name. Record (Kiroku in Japanese) folded in 1973 after just five issues because of ballooning production costs, but was revived more than 30 years later in 2006, and is still going today.
In the book, which comprises the first 30 volumes of Record, Mr Moriyama travels the world, visiting everywhere from Osaka’s neon-soaked backstreets to mescaline-scented alleyways in Manhattan and snowy, desolate roads in Sapporo and São Paulo, Taipei and Morocco. But his most iconic images depict the chaotic heart of Tokyo. Photographing the city is a task Mr Moriyama likens to “a caterpillar crossing the Sahara”. In an issue of Record from 2007, he writes: “Though I have lived some 47 years in Tokyo, I could hardly say I know the city well.”
Photograph from Issue No.26, July 2014. Photograph by Daido Moriyama, courtesy of Thames & Hudson
Alongside Mr Moriyama’s photographs, Record catalogues his candid reflections on what it is to be a flâneur, a topic that has been pondered upon by Messrs Walter Benjamin and Charles Baudelaire. Mr Moriyama may be somewhat less forthcoming – the introduction to each issue is a short paragraph – but that doesn’t make his words any less resonant for those with a wandering spirit. “It seems that such an innate propensity urges me – someone who desires human company yet is a misanthrope at heart – to go out with a camera in hand and to mix with the crowd day in and day out,” he writes in the introduction to the September 2010 issue. “When I break off from my usual miscellany of worldly thoughts and take pictures on unfamiliar streets of people with whom I’m unacquainted, every time I am stimulated, even thrilled, by my self-consciousness.”