FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum Exhibition
The Colors and Shapes of Kyoto
Takeji Iwamiya—In Pursuit of the Beauty of Japan
Photo History Museum has been closed until further notice to prevent the spread of infection from coronavirus.

  • Ichiriki, Gion, 1955-1965
    Photograph by Takeji Iwamiya   ©IWAMIYA Aya

  • Gohei (Shinto ritual wand), Yasaka-jinja Shrine, 1955-1965
    Photograph by Takeji Iwamiya   ©IWAMIYA Aya

  • Kasa-no-ma (umbrella room), Wachigaiya, Shimabara, 1955-1965
    Photograph by Takeji Iwamiya   ©IWAMIYA Aya

  • Kiku-no-mon Gate, Higashihongan-ji Temple, 1955-1962
    Photograph by Takeji Iwamiya   ©IWAMIYA Aya

  • Sekimori-ishi Stone, Juko-in Temple, 1955-1966
    Photograph by Takeji Iwamiya   ©IWAMIYA Aya

  • Kirihishaku (Placing a ladle in a particular way), Before 1971
    Photograph by Takeji Iwamiya   ©IWAMIYA Aya

Please note that this exhibition closed on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum is pleased to present an exhibition of works by the photographer Takeji Iwamiya on the centenary of his birth, which falls on January 4, 2020. The exhibition will run from January 4 to March 31, 2020.

A native of Yonago, Tottori prefecture, Iwamiya settled in Osaka after the war, making the city his base throughout his career as a photographer. Acclaimed as the best advertising photographer and fine art photographer in the Kansai area, Iwamiya was a prolific artist and a major influence on Daido Moriyama and others who came later. On friendly terms with Ken Domon, Tadahiko Hayashi, Shotaro Akiyama, among others, Iwamiya also cultivated exchanges with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ernst Haas, and other photographers outside Japan. More than a photographer, Iwamiya was someone who also broadened his horizons to include calligraphy and haiku poetry.

In 1954, Iwamiya made his debut in photographic circles when he won first prize for Mannequins in the color category of the Fuji Photo Contest. Subsequently, he decided to embark on a career as a professional photographer and set up Iwamiya Photos in 1955. Finding his motifs in the history and natural environment of Japan, including Sado Island, Toshogu Shrine, Kyoto, and the Ryukyu Islands, or the daily lives of people, Iwamiya was single-mindedly focused on publishing his photographs. Bringing a sense of lyricism to his subjects, Iwamiya’s handsome compositions had a sculptural quality that inspired other photographers. He also shifted his focus to the United States before turning his attention to Europe and, finally, to the Buddhist statues of Asia.

For this exhibition, which commemorates the centenary of Iwamiya’s birth, we have handpicked twenty-eight photographs on the theme of the colors and shapes of Kyoto from the Kyoto series, Iwamiya’s masterpiece. After his first vivid encounter with Kyoto on a visit shortly after the war, Iwamiya made frequent visits to the city over a period of more than thirty years, quickly discovering the distinctive beauty of Kyoto in its scenery, the old shrines and temples, and the streets. As if exploring the essence of beauty in Japanese culture, Iwamiya methodically shot photographs of its colors and shapes—seasonal colors, colors to celebrate the arrival of each season, shapes mastered by design, shapes formed by prayer. In Iwamiya’s view, the colors and shapes that reflected the culture and wisdom cultivated in Kyoto were, pure and simple, the beauty of Japan. His visual expression represents the beauty and tradition of Japan and shows us, once again, both the unchanging beauty and the beauty that has now been lost to us.

As a photographer, Takeji Iwamiya discovered and scrutinized the colors and shapes of Kyoto. We hope you will enjoy the unwavering aesthetic sense of one whose career was spent in the pursuit of the beauty of Japan.

Profile of the photographer

Takeji Iwamiya (1920-1989)
Takeji Iwamiya was born in Yonago, Tottori prefecture, in 1920. After graduating from Tottori Prefectural Yonago Commerce and Sericultural High School (presently, Tottori Prefectural Yonago Minami Commercial High School), Iwamiya found a job at Hankyu Department Store in 1938. Subsequently, he was picked for the Nankai professional baseball team (currently, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), but injury forced him to retire. In 1940, Iwamiya joined the Tanpei Shashin Kurabu (Tanpei Photography Club). In 1941, Iwamiya was drafted and dispatched to Manchuria. After repatriation in 1945, he became a freelance photographer in Osaka. In 1955, he set up Iwamiya Photos. While working as a Kansai-based advertising photographer, he was also focused on getting his work published. In 1966, Iwamiya was appointed head of the Photography Department at Osaka University of Arts where he worked tirelessly to train the next generation. Takeji Iwamiya died from lung cancer at age 69 in 1989. His most important publications are Katachi, Nippon no denshō I, II (KATACHI: Japanese Traditions I, II) (Bijutsu Shuppansha, 1962, The Photographic Society of Japan Annual Award), Kyo, Kyoto in KYOTO (Tanko Shinsha, 1965, The Mainichi Art Award), Kyutei no niwa I, II, III (Imperial Gardens I, II, III) (Tanko Shinsha, 1968, The Minister of Education Art Encouragement Prize), and Ajia no butsuzō (Buddhist Statues in Asia) (Shueisha, 1989, The Photographic Society of Japan Annual Award).

Title FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum Exhibition
The Colors and Shapes of Kyoto
Takeji Iwamiya—In Pursuit of the Beauty of Japan
Period January 4 - March 31, 2020
Open every day from 10:00 to 19:00(last admission 18:50)
Number of works approx. 28 works
Venue The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE (Tokyo Midtown West)
Admission Free
Organizer FUJIFILM Corporation
Special cooperation Aya Iwamiya
Cooperation Mitsumura Suiko Shoin Publishing Co., Ltd.
Supervisor Etsuko Enami, Hiroki Kondo
Support Minato City Board of Education
Planning PhotoClassic

Accompanying Events: Gallery Talks

Photographers Etsuko Enami and Hiroki Kondo, who both trained at Takeji Iwamiya’s studio, share their memoires of their former teacher as he was in real life.

Date Saturday January 25, 2020 at 14:00 and 16:00 (Speaker: Etsuko Enami)
Saturday February 15, 2020 at 14:00 and 16:00 (Speakers: Etsuko Enami, Hiroki Kondo)
Venue The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE
Admission Free
* No registration required
* No seats available

* Please be aware that event content is subject to change and cancellation.

  • In 1991, the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts founded these awards, which recognize highly beneficial projects by corporations and corporate foundations for the support of the arts, with the aim of encouraging corporate patronage of artistic projects and increasing public interest in these activities.
  • The awardees are decided on the basis of an evaluation that covers the company's ingenuity and making use of its managerial resources, the involvement of the company in the arts, culture and the wider community, the company's attitude to continuing and expanding the activities, and the activities' degree of importance in contributing to the arts and wider culture.
  • This year's awards, entitled “This is MECENAT 2018”, attracted 152 entrants. A town of third-party experts selected a total of seven awards, namely, the Grand Mécénat Award, five Awards for excellence and the Award Granted by the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs.

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