War and Postwar: The Prism of the Times
Organized by Izu Photo Museum and the Japan Camera Industry Institute
July 18, 2015—January 31, 2016

Marking the 70th anniversary in 2015 of the end of World War II, Izu Photo Museum will host a special exhibition that focuses on photojournalism during the war and early postwar. Japanese photojournalism (hōdō shashin) began with the introduction of German Reportagefotografie and developed as the cutting edge of Modernism. Initially used to introduce Japanese culture overseas, it was employed as propaganda during the war, and continued to play a role in the information wars that accompanied the postwar occupation and the Cold War.
The exhibition features the key figures of Japanese photojournalism, including Yonosuke Natori, Ihei Kimura, Ken Domon, Yosuke Yamahata, Tsuguichi Koyanagi, Shunkichi Kikuchi, and Shigeo Hayashi. Rare archival materials from the 1930s through the 1950s, including domestic and foreign magazines, photomurals, and documentary albums will be exhibited. The commemorative exhibition of prewar and postwar photojournalism will examine continuities as well as the shifting relationship with national policy.

[1] Introducing Japanese Culture
As an imperial power making a delayed appearance on the international stage, Japan sought to project its self-image as a nation that combined a distinctive culture with a modern identity. In the 1930s, the Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai (The Society for International Cultural Relations) and Boad of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways were established, and photographers—including Yonosuke Natori (who had just returned from Germany), Ihei Kimura, and Ken Domon—were enlisted to photograph the face of Japan that it wanted to show the world, and to produce photobooks, magazines, and photomurals. These efforts, which also served to promote foreign travel to Japan, were marked by a vivid modernist style produced by collaborations between photographers and designers.

[2] Propaganda
After the Manchurian Incident in 1931 and the establishment of the Manchukuo puppet state the following year, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations and was increasingly isolated internationally. In response, Japan pressed forward with propaganda aimed at exalting national prestige and PR efforts aimed toward Asia as well as the West. The key figures in photojournalism worked in concert with national policy as the war intensified, endeavoring to spread the image of a tough, strong Japan. In addition to publications produced in Japan, we will also exhibit foreign reports of conditions in Japan.
Left: Nippon, No. 7, Nippon Kōbō, 1936.
(Cover design: TakashIi Kono; cover photograph: Yonosuke Natori), JCII collection
Right: Travel in Japan, Vol. 3, No. 1; Boad of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways, 1937.
(Cover design: Hiromu Hara; cover photograph: Ihei Kimura), JCII collection (Right: Back cover)
Left: Life, January 11, 1937 edition
(Cover photograph: Yonosuke Natori), private collection
Right: Front, No. 1-2, Tōhōsha, 1942
(Cover design: Hiromu Hara), JCII collection

Ihei Kimura, photographing the Navy, 1941, JCII collection
Front, No. 5-6, Tōhōsha, 1943, JCII collection
Tsuguichi Koyanagi, Patrol: Climbing Rocky Cliff, with Rising Sun Flag Attached to Indicate Affiliation to Friendly Forces, 1938, National Memorial Museum for Peace collection.

[3] Defeat and the Occupation Era
The photographers from Tōhōsha shot the aftermath of the fire bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, and the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bombs. Those who had been working for the government lost their jobs after Japan was defeated, and they had to gather equipment from the ashes to make a new start. They produced bilingual publications for the occupation army, and photographs that would stimulate tourist travel to a Japan that was rebuilding on a democratic foundation.

[4] Propaganda Wars During the Cold War
In the wake of the occupation and as the Cold War intensified, The Family of Man exhibition traveled to Japan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York. This was part of a world tour, sponsored in part by an American public diplomacy unit, the U.S. Information Service. The photojournalists who had produced images of a “tough” Japan during the war, now served on the organizing committee for the exhibition; they were able to include in the show one image of Japan as the only country in the world to experience the atomic bomb. Propaganda wars continued into the postwar period, and photojournalists continued to play an important role.
Left: Shunkichi Kikuchi, Shadow (Handle) on a Tank at a Hiroshima Gas Plant, 1945, private collection
Right: Yosuke Yamahata, Nagasaki, August 10, 1945, JPS collection
Living Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefectural Tourist Association, 1949 (Cover design: Hiromu Hara; cover photograph: Shunkichi Kikuchi, Shigeo Hayashi), private collection

Quotes from Key Figures in Photojournalism

Yonosuke Natori
The photographer must always consider the dual demands of the editor and the reader.
(“Commentary and Consideration: On Reportage Photography,” in Teikoku kōgei, 1934.)

Ihei Kimura
To get people to really understand of Japan, I think we have to try things that within Japan might seem somewhat unnatural, that’s how we can gain a correct understanding of Japan from others.
(Tetsuzo Tanikawa and Ihei Kimura Dialogue, “Photographs and Overseas Propaganda,” in Hōdō shashin, 1941.)

Nobuo Ina
The power of the printed photograph to form ideology is immeasurable.
(“About Photojournalism,” Hōdō shashin ni tsuite, 1934.)

Kenichi Hayashi
Particularly, as in the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, where there is a mingling of 10-plus ethnicities and languages, it is difficult to produce propaganda with the written and spoken word, and even films run into difficulty with the narration. So photographic propaganda must take the lead before anything else
(“The Importance of Photojournalism in Wartime,” Asahi camera, 1942.)

Ken Domon
We stand, so to speak, as noble patriots who wield cameras. We must contribute our skills as photojournalists to the nation.
(“Musings” (3), Photo times,1940.)

Yosuke Yamahata
When you pick up a camera, whether you shoot a football or shoot Chongqing, the feeling’s not too different. A photographer, once he picks up a camera, doesn’t think about anything but the photograph.
(Asahi camera, 1942.)
Nippon Kōbō founder Yonosuke Natori, in the U.S. on a cross-country photography assignment, 1937, JCII collection.
Information bureau officer Kenichi Hayashi, 1941, JCII collection.
Nippon Kōbō staff photographer Ken Domon, ca. 1938, JCII collection.

Related Events:
Panel Discussion
The Ghost of Wartime Photojournalism
July 26 (Sun.) 2:30–4:30 Clematis no Oka Hall

Keizo Kitajima (photographer)
Mari Shirayama (manager, JCII Camera Museum)
Yoko Tsuchiyama (PhD. candidate, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Paris)
Norihiko Matsumoto (photographer)
Masashi Kohara (researcher, Izu Photo Museum)

Free. Attendance limited to 150, pre-registration required.
Exhibition ticket required for entry.
Please register by phone: 055-989-8780

Talk Event
Photojournalism from Wartime to Postwar
December 13 (Sun.) 2:30–4:30 Clematis no Oka Academy Forum (the place is 2 minute-walk from the museum)

Shino Kuraishi (professor, Meiji University)
Mari Shirayama (manager, JCII Camera Museum)
Masashi Kohara (researcher, Izu Photo Museum)

Free. Attendance limited to 50, pre-registration required.
Exhibition ticket required for entry.
Please register by phone: 055-989-8780

Gallery Talk
A curator will introduce the exhibits.
3rd Saturday of each month at 2:15 (approx. 40 minutes)
Free, no registration (exhibition ticket required). Please gather at the museum entrance counter.

Related Publications:
① Mari Shirayama and Masashi Kohara, WAR AND POSTWAR: THE PRISM OF THE TIMES, Heibonsha, 2015
② Mari Shirayama, Hōdō Shashin to Sensō: 1930–1960 [Photojournalism and War: 1930–1960], Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2014

Critic Nobuo Ina (left), with planner Sozo Okada, 1930s, JCII collection.
G.T. Sun photographer Yosuke Yamahata (right), 1941, JCII collection.
Tōhōsha staff photographer Shunkichi Kikuchi, early 1940s, private collection.