that criminal investigation, again (again)

Watabe Yūkichi spent twenty days in 1958 with a couple of policemen — Mukōda Tsutomu and his younger sidekick Midorikawa Katsumi — working on a murder investigation. You’ve probably heard the story (here): after some photographs from the series were published in 1958, the series was mostly forgotten in Japan (and Watabe’s work seemed entirely unknown elsewhere) until Parisian publication in 2011 of A criminal investigation. The book went down very well. In retrospect I’m surprised by the coolness of the welcome that I gave to it; I was better disposed to a different collection, 張り込み日記 (Harikomi nikki) = Stakeout diary, in 2013. Both books went out of print and have been reprinted at least once.

And now there’s a third collection, confusingly again titled 張り込み日記 (Harikomi nikki). I’ll call it Nikki 2.

I can’t think of any precedent for this in the wild, wacky world of photobook publishing. But publishing economics (and copyright issues) aside, let’s look at the book.

Here’s its front cover (“Konipan SS”), lying on top of the original Harikomi nikki = Stakeout diary, which I’ll call Diary.

Watabe Yūkichi, Harikomi nikki (2014)

Here’s a spread from Nikki 2, on top of the corresponding spread from Diary.

Watabe Yūkichi, Harikomi nikki (2014)

A bit more interesting: a spread from Nikki 2, on top of the corresponding spread from Diary, the two of course being from different frames.

Watabe Yūkichi, Harikomi nikki (2014)

Yes, damaged by the gutter. But plenty of photos aren’t affected by the gutter:

Watabe Yūkichi, Harikomi nikki (2014)

Watabe Yūkichi, Harikomi nikki (2014)

Watabe Yūkichi, Harikomi nikki (2014)

The book’s publisher is Nanaroku-sha, which shifts large quantities of easy viewing. Nanaroku-sha claims (here) that the book has over 140 photos, and gives conspicuous credit to editorial input from Otsu Ichi, a writer easy reading. It augurs badly. But it works out well. When I look at page after page of material by other photographers that’s primarily praised for its “atmosphere”, I tend to yearn for (in)decisive moments or whatever and get bored; here, not. The more of Watabe’s photos, the more fascinating.

The book is compact, the printing (by Sun M Color) is excellent, and even with tax included it’s under three thousand yen.

渡部雄吉 (Watabe Yūkichi). 『張り込み日記』 (Harikomi nikki). Tokyo: ナナロク社 (Nanaroku-sha), 2014. ISBN 978-4-904292-52-5.

I can’t find any company whose packing I’d trust that is offering to sell this book to people who don’t happen to (i) be able to read Japanese or (ii) live in Japan. But Japan Exposures does say “if you can’t find what you’re looking for, by all means get in touch”.


3 Comments on “that criminal investigation, again (again)”

  1. Gould says:

    Ok but what’s the point of having this one if you own one of the previous editions? I see you answer coming ;-))

  2. microcord says:

    I’m not sure why this is, but for me, with this series, the more photos the better. And with Nikki 2 you get a lot more photos than are in either of its two predecessors.

    Fashion photobooks leave me cold. (And clothes shopping is something I do reluctantly, via the interweb.) But looking through this book, I want to buy a flat cap.


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