The history of Japanese photography dates back to the late 19th century, when Japan first adopted Western-style photography. Prior to this, the country had a long tradition of art and visual representation, but photography as a medium was largely unknown.
In the 1870s, a number of Japanese photographers traveled to Europe and the United States to learn about the new medium, and soon after, photography began to spread rapidly in Japan. The early years of Japanese photography were marked by a fascination with the West and a desire to imitate Western styles and techniques. However, as photographers gained more experience, they began to develop their own unique style and techniques, incorporating traditional Japanese aesthetics and themes into their work.
One of the most significant developments in Japanese photography during this period was the rise of the photojournalism and documentary photography. In the aftermath of World War II, Japanese photographers began to document the country's recovery and rebuilding efforts, capturing images of the country's changing landscape and people. This period also saw the emergence of a number of prominent photographers, including Ihei Kimura, who is widely considered to be one of Japan's greatest photojournalists.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese photography was heavily influenced by the counterculture and avant-garde movements of the time. Photographers such as Eikoh Hosoe and Shomei Tomatsu began to push the boundaries of traditional photography, experimenting with new techniques and themes that reflected the social and political upheavals of the era. This period also saw the rise of street photography, as photographers sought to capture the everyday lives of the people in Japan's cities and towns.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Japan experienced a period of rapid economic growth and modernization, and this was reflected in the country's photography. Photographers such as Daido Moriyama and Nobuyoshi Araki began to document the changes taking place in the country, capturing images of the new consumer culture and the rapidly changing urban landscape. This period also saw the emergence of new photographers, such as Masahisa Fukase, who challenged traditional notions of beauty and representation in their work.
Today, Japanese photography continues to evolve, with photographers exploring new themes and techniques, and incorporating new technologies into their work. The country has produced a number of highly regarded photographers, including Rinko Kawauchi, who has gained international recognition for her dreamlike images, and Risaku Suzuki, who has gained recognition for his stunning landscapes.
Japanese photography is rich and diverse, reflecting the country's cultural, social, and political changes over the past century and a half. From its early beginnings as a Western import, Japanese photography has developed its own unique style and techniques, and has produced a number of highly regarded photographers who have left an indelible mark on the medium. Here are 10 contemporary photographers you should know.