top three Japanese photobooks of 2011

The top ten photobooks of 2011 — everybody else is listing them, so why not me? Answer: laziness! And so instead, my top three Japanese photobooks of the year:

Kikai Hiroh, Anatolia

鬼海弘雄、『アナトリア』 ● In brief, the overdue first collection of the fourth major strand of Kikai’s work: photographing Turkey (and not just Anatolia). Street photography, but also path photography and jetty photography and much more. A big book, and priced accordingly — but not yet another “story” photobook that’s swiftly consumed and thereafter never taken off the shelf; instead a book of photographs that repay repeated viewing.

Sample pages, publication details, and even English captions all here.

Arimoto Shinya, Ariphoto Selection vol. 2

有元伸也、『ariphoto selection vol.2』 ● Second in a series of what look like fascicles by Arimoto of a future large book that’s yet to be announced.

Although largely ignored by the mainstream Japanese photo magazines, street portraiture in Japan is actually alive and well, and in this series Arimoto and his Rolleiflex do it as well as anybody.

Details of the book here. While you’re about it, get vol. 1 as well.

Araki Nobuyoshi, Rakuen

荒木経惟、『楽園』 ● The man never stops, or even slows down. Every year he puts out hundreds or thousands of photographs, and within every hundred there are always some that are good, but for me these are lost among all the filler.

In this refreshingly slim (and modestly priced) booklet, Araki spares us the bored-looking naked women and some of his other obsessions, and concentrates on combinations of (i) dolls (whether clothed or naked), (ii) plastic models of dinosaurs, and (iii) flowers of the deepest and most lurid colours. I don’t know how much of this is Araki’s and how much the work of some art director or assistants, and can’t claim any significance for it whatever, but it’s most enjoyable and doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Its publisher has a page about it that says it has sold out. But there’s still a supply at various retailers.


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