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[Image]Taiji Arita “First Born” — Time Spent Playing with Family —

FIRST BORN July 3, 1973 © Taiji Arita

Taiji Arita "First Born"
— Time Spent Playing with Family —

FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum Photo Exhibition

May 23 – August 28, 2024 (The exhibition closes at 16:00 on the final day)




  • Highlighting his representative work, the "First Born" series, this exhibition features a carefully selected collection of approximately 20 family photographs by Taiji Arita who lived for the joy of creation as a photographer and painter. Please enjoy his works that overflow with innocent playfulness.
  • This exhibition features original prints that were printed by photographer Yoshihiko Ueda, who studied under Arita, and were included in the photo book "First Born" (2012). Valuable notebooks in which Arita wrote down his ideas and which Ueda used as reference when creating this photo book are also on exhibit at the venue. This makes the exhibition a time-transcending collaboration between master and student.

About the exhibition

The FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum is pleased to announce that it will be exhibiting a collection of family photographs by Taiji Arita centering on the "First Born" series, a masterpiece by the photographer and painter.

In addition to working as an advertising photographer, Arita also worked on creating works that were true to his own aesthetic sensibilities.
The photographs he took of his then-wife Jessica and their first child, Cohen, between the late-1960s and mid-1970s transcend universal love and peace. They are filled with the innocent playfulness of both the photographer and photographed. This series of works was discovered by editor Shoji Yamagishi and published as the "First Born" series in "Camera Mainichi" magazine between 1973 and 1974. The magazine had also published photos of Jessica during her pregnancy, which served as the precursor to the series, as well as photos of the family in later years. However, these were to be the last of Arita's works to be published for some time.
It was not until 2012, the year after Arita passed away in the United States, that they would see the light of day again. Yoshihiko Ueda, a photographer who was an admirer of the "First Born" series and had studied under Arita when he was young, fixed these photographs on printing paper after struggling nearly two months, working off of a notebook that Arita had left. This is how the 30-year history between a master and student culminated in the publication of "First Born," a photo collection of 75 photographs newly selected from "Phantom Masterpieces" published in "Camera Mainichi" magazine and an exhibition of the same name.
Taiji Arita's family photographs combine the elements of portrait, snapshot, and performance through a "game" that is a mixture of natural behavior and scene direction. The freshness and distinct presence that these photos exude may come from how the "time spent playing with family" was an expression of freedom for Arita, his wife, and his child.

This series has been a very meaningful experience for the both of us. We would end up with really good photos when we communicated well. But the question isn't just about the kinds of photographs we produce. It can also be like an inquiry into our lives.

(Excerpted from Jessica's "First Born" on the May 1974 issue of Camera Mainichi)

For the first time in over 30 years, I struggled in the darkroom for nearly two months with photographs left behind by my teacher, Taiji Arita. This miraculous reunion with his prints made me contemplate on the mystery and profundity of life; and, at the same time, it vividly reminded me of Taiji Arita's presence and the words he spoke in his prime.

(Yoshihiko Ueda)


Taiji Arita

Photographer and painter Taiji Arita was Born in 1941 in Fukuoka Prefecture. He Grew up in Kokura. After dropping out of the Faculty of Law at Chuo University, Arita studied under Yasuhiro Ishimoto at the Tokyo College of Photography. He worked at Nippon Design Center while still being a student and became independent in 1967. He has also produced numerous fashion and commercial photographs. From 1973 to 1974, he published "First Born," a series of photographs of his then-wife Jessica and their first child, Cohen, for "Camera Mainichi" magazine. In the 1980s, while maintaining his career as a photographer, he began oil painting on the side. In 1988, he published his art book "Forest of the Naked." After moving several times in North America, he moved to the redwood forests of Northern California in 2000, where he lived with his wife in a tent, and created paintings and sculptures. He died on July 17, 2011, in Fort Bragg, California, at the age of 70. In 2012, the photo book "First Born" was published by AKAAKA Art Publishing, and a "First Born" photo exhibition was held at Gallery 916.

Yoshihiko Ueda

Yoshihiko Ueda was Born 1957 in Hyogo Prefecture, and was a Photographer and a professor at Tama Art University. He studied under Masanobu Fukuda and Taiji Arita and Became independent in 1982. Ueda has won various domestic and international awards, including the Tokyo ADC Award, the New York ADC Award, and the Japan Professional Photographers Society Artist Award and founded Gallery 916 in 2011. His representative works include "Quinault," "AMAGATSU," "at Home," "Materia," "A Life with Camera," "FOREST Impressions and Memories 1989-2017," "Māter," and "Always Dreaming." His 2021 film "A Garden of Camellias" received great acclaim, drawing attention for his work as a film director.

Exhibition overview

Title FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum Photo Exhibition
Taiji Arita "First Born" — Time Spent Playing with Family —
Dates May 23 (Thu) – August 28 (Wed), 2024
Time 10:00 – 19:00
(Until 16:00 on the final day. Entry allowed up to 10 minutes before closing.)
Open every day for the full duration of the exhibition.
Venue Photo History Museum, FUJIFILM SQUARE
Admission Free

* This exhibition is being held as a corporate MECENAT activity. We are pleased to announce that admission is free to enable more people to attend.

Number of works Monochrome and color, approximately 20 photographs
Organized by FUJIFILM Corporation
Planning cooperation Masako Arita
Planned by Yoshihiko Ueda, and Temporary Contemporary

* This exhibition may be cancelled or rescheduled for unavoidable circumstances. Visit FUJIFILM SQUARE online or call for updates.

Accompanying the photo exhibition

Gallery Talk by Yoshihiko Ueda

Date May 25 (Sat), 2024, 15:00–15:40
Place Photo History Museum, FUJIFILM SQUARE
Guest Yoshihiko Ueda, photographer
Listener Teiichi Kimoto (Temporary Contemporary)
Subject Taiji Arita, My Teacher
Admission Free
Registration Not required

* This event will be held inside the photo exhibition venue. No seating available. Thank you for your understanding.
* Photo exhibitions and events may be canceled or changed owing to unavoidable circumstances. Thank you for your understanding.

Gallery Talk

Date June 22 (Sat), 2024, 15:00–15:30
Place Photo History Museum, FUJIFILM SQUARE
Talker Teiichi Kimoto (Temporary Contemporary)
Admission Free
Registration Not required

* This event will be held inside the photo exhibition venue. No seating available. Thank you for your understanding.
* Photo exhibitions and events may be canceled or changed owing to unavoidable circumstances. Thank you for your understanding.


~ History of Photography — more than 190 years ~

Not many museums focus on the historical evolution of the photographic arts and cameras like you will discover here. More than 190 years of history are recounted through exhibits of antique cameras and Fujifilm products, as well as periodic exhibitions of historically significant photos. You will revel at how photography has transitioned over the years.

Photo History Museum received the THIS IS MECENAT 2023 certificate by the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts as an act of creating society through art and cultural promotion.