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Kotaro IIZAWA's essay

Photographers of Japan

Vol.15 "Kitai Kazuo - Capturing ga scene I once sawch"

by Kotaro Iizawa (Critic and historian of Photography)

Kitai Kazuo was born in Anshan, China (then Manchukuo) in 1944. He returned to Japan in 1945, first to his fatherfs hometown of Mie Prefecture, then to Tokyo in 1948, then to Kobe in 59. He planned to go to art school but lacked confidence in his gypsum drawings, and in 1963 enrolled in Nihon University College of Art Department of Photography. However, his total disinterest in his classes led him to drop out of college in 1965, after which he began to take photographs of the student protests and dock workers of Kobe. The same year, he compiled his photographs of the protests against nuclear submarines in Yokosuka into the bure-boke photo collection gResistanceh (Miraisha), which he published with his own money. His following works continued to be deeply involved with politics and society, such as his gBarricadeh series taken from inside the barricades of student protests at Nihon University College of Art, and the gSanrizukah series which recorded the protests against the construction of Narita Airport.

Kitaifs photographs began to change from the 1970s onwards. Following his serial publication of gOkinawa Wanderingsh (1972) and gFrance Wanderingsh (1973) in Asahi Camera, he began to serialize gTo the Villageh from January 1974. gTo the Villageh continued until December 1975 and was awarded the first Kimura Ihei Award in 1976. Including the follow up of gAnd Then to the Villageh (January 1976 - June 1976), this series spanned 4 years and 41 issues of Asahi Camera Magazine and is one of Kitaifs representative works.

The theme of gTo the Villageh was the landscape of rural Japan as it changed with the rapid modernization that came with the economic boom of the 60s and 70s. However, Kitaifs purpose was not to comment on agricultural issues or leave folkloric record - at most, he was a passerby, capturing the scenes from his travels with a certain distance. As a result, his works capture nostalgic memories of scenes many Japanese consider the Japan of the past.

Kitai continued to develop as a photographer after his completion of gTo the Villageh. He presented further works like gThe People of Sakaigawah (1979), a collection of photos taken in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture; gTale of Shinsekaih (1981), which captured the area around Osakafs Tsutenkaku; and gFunabashi Storyh (1989), which pointed the camera at the people of Funabashi, Chiba, where he moved to in 1989. In the 1990s he spent a long period in the modernizing city of Beijing and compiled his recordings into the photo collection gBeijing 1990sh (2004). In her essay gRegular lifeh for the catalog of the Tokyo Photographic Art Museumfs exhibition gKitai Kazuo - A scene I once sawh (Nov. 2012 ~ Jan. 2013), the curator Fujimura Satomi wrote, gKitai Kazuo is a photographer who documents regular lifeh. The gaze which Kitai cast on this gdaily lifeh seems to be growing deeper and deeper from the 2000s onwards.



(Kotaro Iizawa)

Kitai Kazuo
uKuwatorimura, Niigata from 1970s Japanv
@Gelatin silver print 15.8x23.6cm


Vol.16 "Ogawa Takayuki (1938 - 2008)  Eexplorer of “shape Ethrough photography"
Vol.15 "Kitai Kazuo - Capturing “a scene I once saw… E
Vol.14 "Kazama Kensuke"
Vol.13 "Narahara Ikko - Double Vision"
Vol.12 "Q Ei and photo dessin"
Vol.11 "Fukuhara Shinzo 1883-1948 -- Japanese Landscape Photography"
Vol.10 "The city observerfs gaze Akihiko HIRASHIMA (1946~)"
Vol.9 "Hitoshi FUGO 1947- -- The unusual world of works which fuses thought and technique"
Vol.8 "Iwata NAKAYAMA (1895-1949)"

Vol.7 "KISEI KOBAYASHI (1968-)"
Vol.6 "Tamiko NISHIMURA (1948-)"
Vol.5 "Shigeo GOCHO (1946-83)"
Vol.4 "Shoji UEDA -Locality open to the world-"
Vol.3 "Yu OGATA, ICHIRO OGATA ONO -Dyslexia's picture of the world-"
Vol.2 "Eikoh Hosoe's theatrical imagination"
Vol.1 "maroon" -- Whereabouts of new works by Hiroshi Osaka


Born 1954 in Miyagi prefecture, Japan. Iizawa is a Japanese photography critic, historian of photography, and magazine editor.
He studied photography in Nihon University, graduating in 1977. He obtained his doctorate at University of Tsukuba in 1984. With his trilogy, "Geijutsu shashin to sono jidai (Art Photography and its Time)", "Shashin ni kaere (Go back to the photography)" and "Toshi no shisen (Glance of the City)" published in 1986, 1988 and 1989, he stood out and became the representive photography researcher of the early 20th century. Iizawa founded magazine "Deja-vu" in 1990 and was its editor in chief until 1994. He has been taking part as a judge in public competitions "Shashin-shinseiki (New Generation Photography)" and "Hitotsubo-ten (3.3m² Exhibition)", since their beginning, and through these competitions made the "girly photo" trend in the 1990s.

Reknowned as Nobuyuki Araki researcher. In 1996, he was awarded the Suntory Arts Award for his book "Shashin bijutsukan e yokoso (Welcome to the Photography Museum)". Also, he is an enthusiast for mushrooms and published books such as "Sekai no kinoko kitte (World's Mushroom Stamps)" and "Aruku kinoko (Walking Mushrooms)".
He was a part-time instructor at the Tokyo College of Photography in 1981, teaching Photography Artist Research. In 2004 and 2008, he was a part-time lecturer at Faculty of Liberal Arts, University of Tokyo, teaching history of photography in Japan.

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