Hiromix – ‘Hikari’

Hikari is a rather unusual book from Hiromix. Rather than the diaristic, food and friends and running around of Girls Blue and Hiromix, Hikari is all landscapes and sky. There might be one person in one picture, but the figure might also be a bundle of something indistinct: I can’t really tell. And instead of the friendly, hand-holdable size of her other books (all of them, Japanese Beauty and Works, both in my library but not yet reviewed at time of writing), Hikari is a big honking coffee table book that’s never going to fit on the shelf with the rest of Hiromix’s oeuvre.

I take it back. There is one image of one person in the book. Hiromix herself appears on the last page in a smiling head and shoulders selfie that is sort of shocking in scale. Young Hiromix appears at nearly life-size and the closeness and suddenness of her arrival can be triggering for more sensitive viewers, I should think. I wonder what the Japanese critics and theorists and commentators of the day made of Hikari.

On second thought, no I don’t. The bits of reviews and critiques I ran through Google Translate for other works were shockingly sexist in a way that I struggle to ignore. I suspect some of it is amplified in translation, and there’s probably some cultural difference at play, and still. Yurie Nagashima spent much of her career fighting against sexism in the art world, and she’s a rough contemporary of Hiromix, so I imagine it’s not my imagination.

Anyway. Two paragraphs about one picture that essentially functions as and amounts to an author portrait is just too much, but the rest of the book sort of reads like an excerpt to me. Given my familiarity with Hiromix’s work of the period, I recognize some of the scenes and suspect that at least a couple of images came from the same nights out or trips or whatever that show up in Hiromix and Girls Blue. Some of the others are triggering in a way and make me want to get into a taxi in a city at night and shoot some film out the rear window. And, yes, I’m a Hiromix fanboy for what I hope is the right reasons—her work, ladies and gentlemen, and I feel similarly about Stephen Shore’s work and Gail Rebhan’s work, and I don’t need to justify or try to excuse myself. And, yes, I think the author doth protest too much.

The only text in the book appears just before and immediately next to smiling Hiromix. It’s in Japanese of course, so I aimed the GTranslate app at it a couple of times and came up with this (massaged a bit):

In order to blow away all this
sadness and loneliness, I
always look up at the sky.

what loneliness

stare at the sky
stare at the light
there I find a rainbow

Hiroximix. Hikari. Rockin’ On, Tokyo, 1997. unpaginated. Author’s translation adapted from Google’s translation.

Yep. That fits with other Hiromix statements of the day, and I can get behind it as both an artist statement and a good way to think about photography, a good trigger to get out and shoot some.


I have to say that Hikari is maybe my third favorite Hiromix book (of the three that I’ve reviewed), and given the unwieldy size I won’t really recommend it. Fans of landscapes won’t be ever so interested, I think, and fans of Hiromix’s diaristic work should also look elsewhere. Completionists of the world take heart though: used copies have come down in price since I bought my beat up copy and Hikari is on the cheaper side of Hiromix books, perhaps with good-enough reason. I’m glad to have one, myself, but then I’m a Hiromix Superfan and photobook collector, so ymmv.

Daido Moriyama – ‘Kura Chan’

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.

Gail Rebhan – ‘About Time’

Some time in late 2020, I started feeling uneasy about my photobook addiction predilection. It took another year before I did anything about it, and one of the first things I did was to stop opening emails from Mack. I got pretty good at this in 2022 and delete-before-reading helped me avoid buying many photobooks. Sadly or, rather, fortunately… I opened a Mack email in January 2023 and a couple of weeks later, Gail Rebhan‘s About Time arrived on the doorstep.

There’s only one thing I have to say about this misstep, this relapse, this backslide: “Gail Rebhan? Where have you been all my life!”

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Daido Moriyama – ‘Farewell Photography’

Farewell Photography is the book that really cemented Daido Moriyama’s name. Sure, he was already famous for his work with Provoke, but Farewell Photography was a statement. This version is the 2020 AkioNagasawa canvas-bound reprint of the 2012 edition, and now with 1 image per page (according to text at the end of this version).

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Hiromix – ‘Girls Blue’

I’ve made no secret about being a rather massive Hiromix fan. I credit an encounter with her work in 2010 or so that really got me interested in photography, and it’s all been downhill from there…. Girls Blue is Hiromix’s first book, as far as I know, and for many years I thought it was out of reach, monetarily-speaking. Then, sometime in 2020 or 2021, about the time I started my previously mentioned Moriyama binge, I also went on a Hiromix binge, and found a fairly clean, if rather smelly copy of Girls Blue for an acceptable price.

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