Shitamachi is literally “downtown.” Its connotation is that of an unchanging working-class neighborhood populated by Edokko, or Tokyoites. Tokyo has a reputation as Japan’s modern city, yet sections seem to miss the constant development. Yanaka, just north of Ueno park, is probably one of the most recognized Shitamachi.
While Yanaka is well within the modern Tokyo today, that was not always the case. The Great Fire of Meireki in 1657 destroyed 65% of Tokyo, then called Edo, and claimed over 100,000 lives. Thought to have started in a temple, the Tokugawa Shogunate moved many temples outside the city to the north. Yanaka was one of the towns created from that migration. This image is from Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness. Click on the image for a larger view.
We have just received copies of our new book Tsukiji: Tokyo Fish Market Suite. It is a small 48 page book with 40 images documenting a day at the world’s largest fish market in Tokyo. The Tokyo metropolitan government has had long-term plans to close this market and this book is my homage to this place. The book will debut at the Griffin Museum of Photography during their Photobook Showcase this Sunday and we will have more about this title at Hakusan Creation soon.
The Griffin Museum of Photography will be hosting events around publishing and the photo book on March 26th. From 10 am to 1 pm, Viginia Swanson will be hosting To Be Published, or Self Publish? From 2 pm to 4 pm, self-publishers, including us, will be showing their work during the Photobook Showcase. We hope to see you there.
Naomi and I are pleased to announce our next book: Tsukiji: Tokyo Fish Market Suite. This 48 page soft cover book shows the inside of the world’s largest fish market. Tokyo Metropolitan Government has plans to relocate the market because of its aging 1935 infrastructure. This collection of 41 photographs pays homage to this remarkable place. The book will be released at the end of March. Click on the image for a larger view.
On March 11th, 2011, a devastating tsunami hit Japan. One of the towns that was destroyed was Rikuzentakata, the birthplace of the Japanese landscape photographer Naoya Hatakeyama. Kesengawa is his intimate portrait of that place and event. You can read about this remarkable book in our Out of Print section in resources.
Naomi and I are pleased to announce an upcoming publication: Kukai no Hitobito. This is Naomi’s memoir of her experience as a pilgrim to the Eighty-Eight Sacred Places of Shikoku Pilgrimage in Japan. The text is in Japanese and will be available to purchase in October.
Naomi and I have been following the heartbreaking news of the earthquakes in Kumamoto, Japan (as well as the event in Ecuador). I was reminded of a story the American scholar Joseph Campbell used to tell about one of his visits to the country. Campbell overheard an American social philosopher talking to a Shinto priest, “We’ve been now to a good many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines. But I don’t get your ideology. I don’t get your theology.” The priest paused to consider the question and then answered, “I think we don’t have ideology. We don’t have theology. We dance.”
Tucked in along the walls of a valley just south of Nara is the Buddhist temple Hase-dera. The Japanese visit in the spring to see the cherry, plum, and magnolia in blossom. The compound is huge with over thirty buildings. Long flights of stone steps help you traverse the topography. Despite the size, Hase-dera has cultivated a landscape where it is difficult to separate the artificial from the natural. Click on the image for a larger view.