"Inudorino me toujitsuni sadamarazu" (On a winter day, the hunter struggles to take aim.)
This haiku by the late photographer Seiryu Inoue is a phrase that I particularly like. That’s because I think the visual scene it evokes is reminiscent of Inoue himself, and the countless street photographs that he made all seem to be condensed in this one line. Inoue was a documentarist who vividly portrayed with his hand-held camera the everyday life of people in the “skid rows” of Kamagasaki (Nishinari-ku) in Osaka in the 1950s, and the image of his captivatingly intrepid style is still very much alive in my mind.
It was more than sixty years ago that Inoue taught me, a newbie who had just plunged into the world of photography in Osaka, on the spot what street photography was all about. It didn’t happen in the form of verbal lectures though. Simply following and watching him as he swiftly captured the sceneries of Kamagasaki, produced a stencil of sorts, that left such a deep impression that the street inevitably became my own hunting ground.
After moving to Tokyo, I worked as Eikoh Hosoe’s assistant for three years, before eventually embarking on my own career as a photographer at the age of 24. Throughout the six decades that followed, I remained in the field of “street photography” – in fact the only one I have ever worked in. The extremely real and charming experience of bygone days, following on the heels of Seiryu Inoue, was what initially got me there when I was a young lad.
"Ikuninka ashiotokieshi shimokuren" (Magnolias, still there after the streets have gone silent.) by Seiryu
Volume 49 of Record contains photographs taken in the streets of Shibuya. I have taken quite a lot of snapshots in Shibuya up to now, because for some reason I’ve been arrested by that desire to grab my camera and mix with the Shibuya crowd, be part of the hustle and bustle. I would just wander through the streets, driven by the urge to point my camera at the motley bunch of people who pass by. So I kept walking around Shibuya for three days straight until I was satisfied, at least for the time being. This is how you do it, right, Inoue-san?