Nobuyoshi Araki is a Japanese photographer and contemporary artist. He is also known by the nickname Arākī. He was born in Tokyo, studied photography during his college years and then went to work at the advertising agency Dentsu, where he met his future wife, the essayist Yōko Araki. After they were married, Araki published a book of pictures of his wife taken during their honeymoon titled Sentimental Journey. She died in 1990. Pictures taken during her last days were published in a book titled Winter Journey.
Having published over 350 books by 2005, and still more every year, Araki is considered one of the most prolific artists alive or dead in Japan and around the world. Many of his photographs are erotic; some have been called pornographic. Among his photography books are Sentimental Journey
(1971, but later reissued), Tokyo Lucky Hole
(1985), and Shino
. He also contributed photography to the Sunrise anime series Brain Powered
In 1981, Araki directed High School Girl Fake Diary a Roman Porno film for Nikkatsu studio. The film proved to be a disappointment both to Araki's fans, and to fans of the pink film genre.
The Icelandic musician Björk is an admirer of Araki's work, and served as one of his models. At her request he photographed the cover and inner sleeve pages of her 1997 remix album, Telegram
. More recently, he has photographed pop singer Lady Gaga. Araki's life and work were the subject of Travis Klose's 2005 documentary film Arakimentari.
His works are held in numerous museum collections including the Tate
and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Nobuyoshi Araki is a prolific photographer who has produced thousands of photographs over the course of his career. He became famous for Un Voyage Sentimental
(1971), a series of photos depicting both banal and deeply intimate scenes of his wife during their honeymoon.
A number of his works feature young women in sexualized situations: Kinbaku
, a series from 1979, features 101 photographs of women in rope bondage. He typically works in black-and-white photography, and his hallmark style is deliberately casual. “Rather than shooting something that looks like a professional photograph, I want my work to feel intimate, like someone in the subject’s inner circle shot them,”
he says. More recently, Araki has been working on a series titled Faces of Japan
(2009-) in which the artist photographs 500 to 1,000 people in each of Japan’s prefectures.
Nobuyoshi Araki is a contemporary Japanese photographer known both for his prolific output and his erotic imagery. While sometimes focusing on quotidian subject matter, including flowers or street scenes, it is Araki’s sexual imagery that has elicited controversy and fascination. Similar to the work of Helmut Newton
, Araki often addresses subversive themes—such as Japanese bondage kinbaku—in his provocative depictions of female nudes. “Women? Well, they are gods. They will always fascinate me. As for rope, I always have it with me. Even when I forget my film, the rope is always in my bag,”
he said of his subject matter. “Since I can't tie their hearts up, I tie their bodies up instead.”
Born on May 25, 1940 in Tokyo, Japan, he studied photography at Chiba University, before pursuing a career as a commercial photographer upon his graduation in 1963. In 1970, while working as a freelance photographer, he began to publish numerous photography books, including Sentimental Journey
(1971), a visual narrative of the honeymoon with his wife Aoki Yoko. Araki currently resides in Tokyo, Japan, a city that has served as a constant source of inspiration throughout his career. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Institute of Design in Chicago
, the Goetz Collection in Munich, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
, among others.