Japanese Emerging Photographers from Mt. Rokko Photo Festival

It hasn’t always been easy for Eastern artists to garner Western acclaim, but these days it seems like Japanese photographers have been getting much more attention in the international photography scene.

For instance, Daido Moriyama, who first came to prominence in the mid-60s with his gritty depictions of Japanese urban life, was exhibited alongside American photographer William Klein at Tate Modern earlier this year. And the latest work by Rinko Kawauchi was very recently exhibited at the Aperture Foundation in New York. Her work, entitled Ametsuchi, is the second of her monographs that have been published by Aperture in the past few years.

Curious about the up-and-coming voices in Japanese photography, we recently took a trip to the inaugural Mt. Rokko Photo Festival in Kobe to see if we could find the next Daido or Kawauchi. Featuring exhibits, portfolio reviews, lectures, and workshops, the festival provided an inspiring platform for exchanging photographic ideas and connecting with contemporary photographers from around the world.

Here are a few emerging Japanese photographers we met there who are creating some very exciting work:

Tetsuya Kusu
Tetsuya Kusu lived on a small island in Thailand for 6 years after college, where he worked as a diving instructor. During this time, he started taking underwater photographs and upon his return to Japan, he started his career as an advertising photographer. After experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, he started photographing catastrophes around the world, hoping to capture glimpses of these ephemeral scenes, and to tell the story of people’s joy, sorrow and astonishment during these times.

His project, Silent House, captures the ephemeral scenery of the sinking, eroding architecture around Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. These photographs show the powerlessness of human civilization when up against the forces of nature.

Tetsuya Kusu, Silent House

Tetsuya Kusu, Silent House

Hiro Imai
Hiro Imai, a Japanese photographer from Tokyo, initially studied civil engineering and structural mechanics. After working for a global IT company, he developed an interest in photography, and he has been photographing seriously for four years.

His current project, Anonymous Creations on a Small Island – The Masked Island, depicts the silent chaos of the landscape of Japan. Quietly questioning the coexistence of buildings old and new, modern and traditional, these photographs express the subtle discomfort Hiro perceives in the changing cultural topography of Japan.

Hiroshi Imai, Anonymous Creations

Hiroshi Imai, Anonymous Creations

Etsuko Sato
Etsuko Sato is a photographer based in Tokyo, who constructs the spaces she photographs as a means to explore the world beyond what is normally visible. She seeks to explore the world that exists between the real and unreal worlds by creating a fabricated space within another fabricated medium, photography.

Her project, Room 2, explores the idea of the ever-changing parts of life that go unnoticed by people. She is interested in the tension created from the moment right before something changes completely. Her goal is to make these normally invisible feelings visible through her photographs.

Etsuko Sato, Room 2

Etsuko Sato, Room 2

Mayumi Mizukoshi
Mayumi Mizukoshi is a Japanese photographer from Hokkaido who recently received her Master’s degree in Visual Design & Direction Design from Tokyo University of the Arts. Her goal as a photographer is to look at the borders of worlds that coexist on the current of time.

Her photographs of sandstones taken in Taiwan portray a true vitality despite their lack of life. These photographs tell the stories of the time that went by through the texture and shape of the stones. Through this, we see the raw, vivid sparkle of life and can follow its ongoing narrative.

Mayumi Mizukoshi, Taiwan

Mayumi Mizukoshi, Taiwan

Madeno
Madeno is a Japanese photographer who initially started as a videographer. For many years, he has been seeking a peaceful refuge, a “home” where every living creature exists in perfect harmony. This struggle has become the major motivation to create his work. In his photographs, he strives to convey short, simple stories reminiscent of fables or myths that speak to every generation.

His project, Our Windows, explores the reflection and illusion in human relationships through the color, shape, and movement of light falling onto a single window.

Madeno, Our Windows

Madeno, Our Windows

Let us know what you think about these talented photographers from Japan!