For Kura Chan (Madam K in English, and hereafter “Kura Chan“), Daido Moriyama (maybe with assistance from someone at Akio Nagasawa) revisited his images from Provoke vol. 2 and 3 (images of a woman and images of store shelves and signage in 2 and 3 respectively, with some never-before-seen) to make a single volume that sorta serves as a prequel to Moriyama’s Woman of the Night series. I know that doesn’t mean much if you’re unfamiliar with the 4 (or 5) volume series, and apologies, but that’s the best I can come up with for a quick intro statement….
The book contains some wildly NSFW and very out of focus images, and I age-restricted the video out of an abundance of caution. You’ll have to click through to the unboxing video, as WordPress refuses to embed it. Oh well.
So… Kura Chan. Back in Nineteen Sixty-whatever, Moriyama presented a selection of very blurry nudes in Provoke vol. 2. They were presented very small, 4 to a page with loads of white (or, rather, yellow) space, and given Moriyama’s blur and grainy printing, the new presentation—full bleed and one image per page—is welcome. That said, if you’re looking for anything explicit, look elsewhere, though if you’re looking for something sexy or suggestive or prurient-adjacent, then Kura Chan might be right up your alley.
It’s not all blurry nudes with the occasional non-explicit sharp-ish image of, for example, the title character smoking with her back to the camera, or the half-focused shot of her partial face and hair, or shoulder, back, and hair, or etc. Every few pages or so, the action pauses for a commercial break. My first thought was that Moriyama was showing how the mind wanders, depicting the photographer/viewer’s mind wandering. And that may be it, but it’s more likely the Madam bored and thinking about her shopping list. And maybe it’s both, maybe it’s all about the gulf between sexual partners. And if so, it works! And this may be one of the better—pseudo-psychoanalytical theory-wise—Moriyama books simply for this reason.
Image wise, well, it’s Moriyama isn’t it, and 1960s Moriyama at that. There’s not a bit of the digital slickness seen in later work to be found, and only the creamy, luscious grain of overcooked underexposed black & white film. For that, well, it’s Moriyama, isn’t it, and you probably know what it looks like.
Overall, Kura Chan rates a solid 4 stars, and only because I’m tiring of the canvas-and-staples binding and thin laser printer paper stock of this series, and I have I think 5 more of these sorts of Moriyama books to review.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to get as much out of Kura Chan as I did. From a kindergarten-level theory perspective, it’s the best I’ve seen from Moriyama, and I can’t recommend it enough. At time of publishing, signed copies remain available. Hurry, though: the book was limited to 600 copies, and I received #356 several years ago. Who knows how many remain.