Daido Moriyama’s “Women in the Night”

In late 2020 or early 2021, Akio Nagasawa announced a new, 4 volume series of silk-screened canvas-bound photobooks from Daido Moriyama. I immediately preordered the first, and kept an eye out for the other three. Ends up, there were 5 total and there’s a surprise sort of ending, sort of. Taken individually, I don’t have much to say about any individual volume; collectively, though, I think they may be the best thing Moriyama has released.

Head’s up: three of the 5 volumes contain a few NSFW photographs. Apologies: you’ll need to click through to watch the unboxings….

Each book contains a brief postscript from Moriyama in Japanese and English, all of which follos the same (or a very similar) format: “There was a woman called [Name] in [Location]. She was a person who loved [Thing(s)]. It’s already [unit of time] since [I saw her, she disappeared from, etc.]. Even now, I still think of her sometimes. This is a profile of her as she appears in my memory.” At first, this may not seem to mean much, but, trust me, the text is pivotal to the work.

Shinobu hung around in Shinjuku’s red light quarter and loved flowers. At time of publication, Moriyama hadn’t seen her in a decade. Guess what? The images show mostly (what I guess is) Shinjuku and flowers, with various close-ups of hands and feet, ear, shoulder, etc. of a woman (or women: it’s hard to tell), and mid- and full–length faceless portraits of the woman in various states of undress. As with all volumes in the series, I didn’t get it the first time, or the third, but it grew on me.

Hiroko loved ENKA (whatever that is) in Osaka’s Minami district. Moriyama hasn’t seen her in five years. Now. The Safari web browser auto-completes to https://enka.network, which has something to do with “Genshin Impact player cards,” whatever those are, and probably isn’t the ENKA that Hiroko loved…. Wikipedia gives ENKA as a recent style of Japanese music that has some traditional elements, and maybe the mix of images—flowers, again, but fewer this time; city scenes of mostly what appear to be bars and clubs, and of people on their way to bars and clubs; and more explicit, if still faceless portraits of a woman (or women)—backs up this reading.

Naomi loved cars. Moriyama often took her out for drives in and around the Nishiki area in Nagoya a few years ago. Now. One might expect images of cars and driving, but one would be wrong. There are, by my count, 5 pictures of cars. Perhaps another five were made from a car. Overall, though, there are many more images of flowers, including a garishly-colored gatefold that makes my stomach churn. There might be more images of advertising than in other volumes, but I didn’t count.

I expected Yukari to be the last book in the series. After all, original press claimed four volumes, and the text seems to back this up. “The woman who called herself Shinobu in Shinjuku, Hiroko in Minami, and Naomi in Nishiki, went by the name of Yukari in the Nakasu district of Fukuoka.” Aha. It’s all been a ruse!

“Someday, I’m gonna live in New York” – that’s what she always said.” So Moriyama missed her for a couple of years, then went into his archive and found a few rolls of half frame shots—I’m guessing—made in the City. Many pages show two sequential-seeming pictures in a nearly 4×3 aspect ratio that looks for all the world like half frame. Two obviously-sequential shots show Moriyama in a hotel room, taking miror selfies with an unidentifiable (by me) older camera that might be the Olympus Pen W he reportedly used in the early 1970s. Some of the pictures may have been made that long ago, based on the theater marquees in various images; others are far more recent, based on the Victoria’s Secret and other signage in Times Square and elsewhere, and I’m sure Moriyama—and or his editor(s)—mixed images from Moriyama’s long career for Yukari and other volumes. In fact, I believe a few images appear in multiple volumes. I noticed a couple during the flip-through portions of the unboxing videos, and think I saw more during my multiple trips through the different books.

Momoe was sort of a shock when it appeared. I expected four volumes, and found myself a bit peeved that I was going to have to buy another one….

She called herself Shinobu in Shinjuku, Hiroko in Minami, Naomi in Nishiki, Yukari in Nakasu.
Rumor has it that she is now living quietly in Ishikari where she was born, under the name she was given by her parents.
Momoe. I still think of her every once in a while.

Moriyama, Daido. Momoe. Akio Nagasawa, Tokyo, 2021. https://www.akionagasawa.com/en/shop/books/akionagasawa/momoe/ 3 April, 2023.

Surprise, surprise, the pictures in Momoe depict smaller towns and some countryside. There’s even a picture of a horse. The woman appears fewer times, and in far less explicit poses than in some earlier volumes, and there are no color images at all. I suspect a few of the pictures came from the Tales of Tono period, but don’t really know, and I don’t see a huge amount to date things. If I was able to read the Japanese text, I’d probably know more, and if I cared more, I’d point Google Translate at a few pictures… Alas.

Taken individually, the different volumes are sorta typical Moriyama affairs, what with their mix of flowers, street scenes, advertising, cats and dogs, shoes, etc., prominent throughout. Taken together, though, I think the series something special. Maybe it’s just that I spent $500 to acquire it all new and want to justify it? Well, I spent that money over the course of 2021 and it’s now 2023, so that money is long gone and had I not wasted it on Moriyama books, I would’ve wasted it some other way, and may Allah forgive me and guide me to better. Really, I think this series marks a high point in Moriyama’s career; that it serves as a sort of magnum opus.

The narrative, such as it is, is less heavy-handed than some of his other works. The imagery is more varied—looking at the 5 books together—than a normal Moriyama book might be, though, and as I’ve said before, if you’ve seen a handful of Moriyama images, you’ve pretty much seen them all: there’s not much new in these pages, but the way the work comes together is quite special, I think.

Recommended, but the whole set is wildly expensive and honestly probably not worth it.

If you want just one, I’d go for Yukari or Momoe due to the variety and pace of the images. Yukari is zippy and heater-skelter, much like the City itself; Momoe is sorta more pastoral and slower, but with a sort of static energy, like a city-dweller coming home, or that sense of impatiently marking time that I sometimes feel in smaller towns. The others sorta blend together for me, and I think they’re meant to.

If I have one complaint, it’s the numerous gatefolds in each volume. The paper is thin and the binding is floppy, and together, I find viewing the gatefolds a difficult and nerve-wracking affair. Beyond that, I’m not the biggest fan of the whole silkscreened canvas cover business. I think it works for the content, I just don’t like the feel of it in the hands.

Given that each volume is limited to 350 copies, I’m sorta shocked that all five remain available (at time of writing). I have #185 of Shinobu, #105 of Hiroko, #130 of Naomi, #164 of Yukari, and #102 of Momoe. Given I bought the last of these some 17 months ago, that doesn’t mean much; the fact that any remain should light a fire under you, if you have the funds and the interest. The “Woman of the Night” series may be a bit hopelessly patriarchal and most definitely stuck in the Twentieth Century, but it’s the most comprehensive expression of Moriyama’s work that I know of, and it may indeed actually be worth your time.

Jim Goldberg – ‘Raised by Wolves’ (Bootleg edition)

Raised by Wolves is probably the Jim Goldberg book/project, the one by which all others are judged and by which all others fall. I don’t really know… I’d like to see some of his other work, maybe catch an exhibition somewhere, but everything is out of print and exhibitions never seems to come to North Texas (or not that I notice anyway). Anyway. Raised by Wolves (hereafter “RBW“) is the one you (or I, anyway) always hear about. It’s long out of print and, given its fame and scarcity, copies sell for wild prices. As a sort of partial remedy, Goldberg conceived of and produced the Raised by Wolves (Bootleg). Used copies of the Bootleg go for more than the original printing for some reason, and even though copies from the second printing (of which my copy is an example) remain available direct from Goldberg for a comparatively reasonable amount, at time of writing, anyway.

I honestly don’t know quite why I bought a copy of the Bootleg. After all, I own a really beat up, former library copy of the first edition and so why would I “need” one? I think I jumped on it because of the “…numerous surprises…” the publisher blurb claims were “inserted by the artist” and who knows. In any case, when I originally unboxed and flipped through the Bootleg, I was rather underwhelmed.

The full publisher’s blurb reads as follows:

Often considered Goldberg’s seminal project, Raised by Wolves combines ten years of original photographs, text, and other illustrative elements (home movie stills, snapshots, drawings, diary entries, and images of discarded belongings) to document the lives of runaway teenagers in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The book quickly became a classic in the photobook canon and, thus, the original is essentially unavailable.

In the spirit of Tweeky Dave, Goldberg is releasing a xerox style bootleg version of the book with numerous surprises inserted by the artist. At 9×12 inches, the same size as the original, the re-issue features 320 color and black and white pages, perfect bound, with a color softcover.

If you don’t already own a copy of RbW, and if you really want to see the work in full, the blurb won’t matter and you’ll probably buy the Bootleg without a second thought, if you have the hundred bucks (plus shipping) on hand. If you’re on the fence, though, read the blurb more carefully than I did before pulling the trigger.

I saw “Xerox…bootleg” and “numerous surprises” and jumped. When I received the book, I found that surprises numbered exactly 2: one 4×6 print made from an image of Tweaky Dave on a television and one 4×6 print of Beth (aka Echo), clean and playing Nintendo at her Mom’s house. “2” is not “numerous,” but whatever. I also found that “Xerox style” does not mean “xeroxed,” and that the (probably pristine digital) scans have been treated by some sort of grain or reticulation filter that really looks sorta hasty and poorly done. The eggshell paper exacerbates this and really calls out the fakery. If the paper had been more matte, like ordinary printer paper, or, better, ordinary copier paper, it might read more like a photocopy and sorta work better in general, and who knows.

Now. If I’d never seen (and didn’t own) a copy of the first edition, I probably wouldn’t mind the Bootleg. The (faked) photocopy look might not be so distracting, and the addition of a couple of prints, scotch-taped in at appropriate points, would be more exciting. And given that a couple of years have passed between the unboxing and flip-through and this review, I find that I don’t feel as negative now as I remember feeling back when I first saw it, and as I felt every time I saw the book, lying with its original printing cousin on the floor next to my flip-through station for the past 18 or 19 months.

Insofar as my office/library/studio/playroom is in deep need of a general cleanup (and thorough remodel), I figured it was time to get these books back onto the shelf, and the only way to do that is to review the Bootleg, so here we are.

Overall, I guess it’s good that RbW is available in some way, and while I don’t wholly dislike the book, really, the faked xeroxing gets very distracting very quickly, and wholly detracts from the appreciation and study of the book. The reticulation filter that’s been slapped onto everything simply doesn’t work. (Your mileage may, of course, vary, and my opinions are my own.) That said, I agree with Goldberg that Tweaky Dave would probably approve of it, more or less. If the Bootleg is supposed to look like a bootlegged zine version of the original, it fails on a basic technological level. But if it’s supposed to look like a cheap fake, sorta hurriedly produced to make a quick buck and score some tweak, then, well, maybe it sorta works, though the addition of the numerous minimal surprises nearly pushes it into artist’s book, limited-edition territory.

On that point, I wonder if other copies include other prints, more prints, hand drawings or something. Maybe there are a handful of variations? Maybe each one is unique? Maybe the first printing of the Bootleg had a different set (or actually had “numerous”) prints/surprises? If you have a copy of the Bootleg (or if Goldberg reads this as he did my review of the original) maybe leave a comment and let me and other readers know.


Given that the Bootleg edition is the only way (at present) to get a fresh copy of RbW, I wholeheartedly recommend it, though if you’re patient (like I was a few years ago) and regularly search bookfinder, you might find a first edition, original copy for less than the Bootleg, and even a beat-up x-library copy will look clearer and read more legibly than will the Bootleg.

Hiromix – ‘Japanese Beauty’

Japanese Beauty is Hiromix’s 1997 collection of work with a group of young Japanese models of the time. If you’re lucky enough to find a copy with the belly band, don’t get excited by the “21” on it… this is not an advisory, age limit sort of thing. Nope. Hiromix photographed 21 models for the project. Apologies if you got your hopes up…

The 21 models include Miwako Ichikawa, Mikako Ichikawa, Koyuki, Ayumi Tanabe, ARATA, Megumi Furuya, Nobuko Tanaka, Akari Shimizu, Manabu, Nanae Takahashi, FHIFAN, Shiho Ochiai, Yayoi, Yu Fujimoto, Hidetoshi Homma, Yoko Sekikawa, Himemi Tokuda, Kana, Anji, KIRI, and Takao Tsuno. Some or all of these were maybe at one point regularly featured in fashion and Teen Beat sorts of advertisements and magazines.

At first, I thought the book featured Hiromix’s work from these magazines, like maybe these were images she made for Japanese Tiger Beat or Big! or whatever. But after aiming the Google Translate app at some of the text—the whole book is in Japanese—I realized Japanese Beauty was something else, and, really, it’s something rather interesting and masterful, I think.

Take yourself back, if you can, to the mid 1990s, and imagine opening up a copy of Teen Vogue. I turned 12 in 1990 (and, therefore, 22 in 2000) and I can only imagine, since I never bought or looked at a copy of any of the numerous teen magazines of the day. In the early part of the decade, I was on Mad; in the latter part of the decade I moved on to a more adult sort of magazine, and may Allah forgive my youthful ignorance. Anyway. If the teen magazines were anything like the adult magazines I “read,” I imagine there were profiles of models and actors and musicians and all, with images and some brief comments around the subject’s favorite color, hobbies, etc. And that’s what Hiromix gives us in Japanese Beauty, 21 times, without the advertisements and articles, and also (sadly?) without the centerfolds.

Each group of pictures opens with the model’s (or, in a few cases, models’) name and ends with a set of statements: memories of photoshoots, favorite perfumes and foods, and etc. (if the Google Translate app can be believed). Each model appears in one setting: outdoors or indoors; mostly clothed and always sufficiently covered; in head-and-shoulders and/or full body poses; in single images per page or two-page spreads. The photos are all well done, with Hiromix’s usual mastery of color and offhanded framing. One image in particular has perhaps the best use of lens flare I’ve ever seen. It shows an incredible knowledge of the camera (or some incredible luck).


The image on the left is just amazing, and the spread there works so well. Hiromix certainly knew her tools, and I wonder if she continued using the Big Mini throughout. The flare and distortions look like an inexpensive, wide-angle, plastic-lensed camera anyway.

Now. Given that Hiromix worked with professional models for essentially the first time (for a photobook, anyway,) the images are quite different than those in Girls Blue and the Steidl book; the diaristic aspect is entirely absent: there are no photographs of food or city streets at night or interiors. This fact alone puts Japanese Beauty low on my ranking of Hiromix books. That said, it’s still excellent and I’m thrilled and privileged to have it in my collection.


Japanese Beauty is only available used and prices are reasonable. It’s not Hiromix’s best work, imo: for that, see the Steidl book (or Girls Blue), but it’s really pretty good and worth checking out.

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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