The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE Presents
Gendai gokan and Haruo Tomiyama, a photographer who transcended language

Kamitsu [Overcrowding], 1964
©Haruo Tomiyama Archives

Kyoyo [Tolerance], 1965
©Haruo Tomiyama Archives

Kansho [Viewing], 1964
©Haruo Tomiyama Archives

Tanjo [Birth], 1967
©Haruo Tomiyama Archives

Ikoi [Relaxation], 1978
©Haruo Tomiyama Archives

The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE is pleased to present an exhibition of the works of Haruo Tomiyama, a photographer who depicted his times over many years through photographs that transcended words. The exhibition runs from August 1 to October 31, 2018.

The 1960s were a turning point for Japan that determined the country's course thereafter. At a time when publication of new weekly magazines was booming and journalism was in its heyday, Haruo Tomiyama was one of the photographers on the front lines. He worked on the Gendai gokan [The linguistic sense of our times] series in the Asahi Journal magazine, which started during the boom in 1964 with Tomiyama's photograph on the theme “overcrowding.”

After teaching himself photography, Tomiyama worked as a commissioned photographer for the magazine Josei Jishin and the photography department of Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc., where he distinguished himself through the Gendai gokan series. This was a social commentary comprising photographs and essays by different individuals on the themes of various Japanese words that appeared frequently in the mass media of the day, such as “overcrowding,” “togetherness,” or “tolerance.” Responsibility for the photographs in the series was shared among members of the Asahi Shimbun photography department, while the essays were penned by well-known writers such as Tadasu Iizawa and Kenzaburo Oe. The series became a hit for its shrewd satire of social conditions in Japan as the country was in the midst of rapid economic growth and standing on the brink of a revolution in values. Tomiyama's photographs in particular stood out for their distinctive interpretations of the words and their capacity for humorous expression, which made a huge impression on the magazine's readers. Tomiyama subsequently made this series his lifework and spent around 40 years taking photographs that depicted his times and popular words, publishing his works intermittently in a number of magazines under the Gendai gokan title.

The exhibition will display original prints selected and reproduced in 1998 by Haruo Tomiyama from the Gendai gokan series with which he is synonymous. Tomiyama described himself as a craftsman and expressed his own unique view of his profession in writing with the words, “There's no business like photography.” Drawing on an idiosyncratic esthetic to capture a clear-eyed view of the times, Tomiyama's photographs remind us of photography's versatility as a medium that transcends words. In the present day, as we prepare to transition from Heisei into a new imperial era, revisiting these photographs that offer figurative depictions of the Showa Era (1926-1989) provides the perfect opportunity to look back at the progress Japan has made. Come and immerse yourself in Haruo Tomiyama's world of photographs that transcend words.


Haruo Tomiyama (1935—2016): Profile

Haruo Tomiyama was born in 1935 in Kanda, Tokyo. While working as a commissioned photographer for the magazine Josei Jishin and the photography department of Asahi Shimbun Publications, he became one of the staff responsible for photographs in the Gendai gokan series that ran in the Asahi Journal magazine from 1964 onward. After becoming a freelance photographer in 1966, he held the Japan Today photography exhibition (at the International Center of Photography, New York) in 1978. Key awards granted to Tomiyama included the New Artist Award from the Japan Photo Critics Association (1965), the Kodansha Publishing Culture Award (1978), the Photographer of the Year Award from the Photographic Society of Japan (1980), the New Face Award of Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts (1981), the Medal with Purple Ribbon (2003), the Sponichi Grand Prize for the Arts (2005), and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette (2012). His main photo anthologies included Gendai gokan [The linguistic sense of our times] (Chuo Koronsha, 1971), Sadogashima [Sado Island] (Asahi Shimbunsha, 1979), Kyogeki [Chinese Opera] (Heibonsha, 1980, two volumes), Zen shugyo [Zen training] (Sotoshu Shuppanbu, 2002), and Gendai gokan: Our day [The linguistic sense of our times: Our day] (Kodansha, 2004). Tomiyama died of lung cancer in 2016 at the age of 81.


Title Gendai gokan and Haruo Tomiyama, a photographer who transcended language
Period August 1, 2018 (Wed.) — October 31, 2018 (Wed.)
open every day from 10:00 to 19:00 (last admission 18:50)
Number of works approx. 26 works
Venue The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE
Admission Free
Organized by FUJIFILM Corporation
In Corporation with Haruo Tomiyama Archives
Supported by Minato City Board of Education
Planning by Photo Classic

Events during the exhibition
Guest speaker Tatsuya Shiratani (formerly head of the photography department at Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.) will give a presentation about Haruo Tomiyama as a photographer and Gendai gokan.

Date September 29, 2018 (Sat.), 14:00—14:30 and 16:00—16:30
Venue The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE
Admission Free
* No registration required
* No seats available

In 2017, the Photo History Museum was formally approved by the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts for its “contributions to society through the promotion of arts and culture” and was permitted to use the official “This is MECENAT 2017” mark.

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