Yasuhiro Ishimoto
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Yasuhiro Ishimoto
Yasuhiro Ishimoto was a Japanese photographer.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto ( , Ishimoto Yasuhiro[1], June 14, 1921 - February 6, 2012) was a Japanese-American photographer.


Ishimoto was born on June 14, 1921 in San Francisco, California, where his parents were farmers. In 1924, the family left the United States and returned to his parents' hometown within present-day Tosa, in K?chi Prefecture, Japan. After Ishimoto graduated from K?chi Agricultural High School, he returned to the United States in 1939, to study modern agricultural methods. He initially lived with a Japanese family friend in California, but later relocated to the city of Oakland to the home of an American family.

He spent summers working as a farmer until 1941, and between September and December of that year, studied at San Jose Junior College (now San Jose City College). In January 1942, he entered the University of California, Berekley, School of Agriculture (now the University of California, Davis), but soon thereafter was sent to a Japanese American internment camp. In September,[2] he was transferred to the Amache Internment Camp (also known as Granada Relocation Center) in Colorado, where he was interned with fellow Japanese Americans, from whom he learned photographic techniques, after regulations on using cameras were relaxed around 1943.[2] In January 1944, he temporarily left the camp and visited Illinois. In December of that year, although the war continued, he was released from camp and relocated to Chicago. In 1946, he entered Northwestern University in Chicago to study architecture, but soon dropped out.[2] Though he did not complete this program, architecture would hold an important place in his photography.[3] In 1947,[2] Ishimoto joined the Fort Dearborn Camera Club[4] for amateur filmmakers and photographers there.[5] In 1948, he enrolled in the Institute of Design (ID), which came to be the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology the following year in 1949.[2] There he studied with Harry M. Callahan and Aaron Siskind, graduating in 1952. During this time, he won numerous photography awards, including the Moholy-Nagy Prize, which he won twice.[2]

Ishimoto returned to Japan to live in 1953 and that same year, on a commission from New York's Museum of Modern Art, he photographed Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura riky?) in Kyoto, working in black-and-white. Work from this assignment eventually was published as the book, Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture (sometimes shortened to Katsura) in 1960. The book has texts by Walter Gropius and Tange Kenz?.

Ishimoto's work was chosen by Edward Steichen to appear in the Family of Man exhibition and catalogue at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955, and Steichen also selected his work for a three-person exhibition in 1961.

From 1958 to 1961, Ishimoto lived and worked in Chicago on a Minolta fellowship. His photographs from this time, mostly street scenes, were eventually published in 1969 as Chicago, Chicago. After having returned to Japan in 1961, Ishimoto became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1969. During the 1960s, he taught photography at Kuwasawa Design School, the Tokyo College of Photography and, between 1966 and 1971, at Tokyo Zokei University.

Ishimoto travelled and photograph widely, visiting Southwest Asia[6] in 1966, and South America, North Africa and Australia for three months in 1975. The following year he made trips to Iran, Iraq and Turkey and in 1977 he again visited Turkey, also travelling to Spain and India. He visited China in 1978.

With photographs taken at the temple T?-ji (also known as Ky Gokokuji) in Kyoto, Ishimoto produced an exhibition in 1977 called Den Shingonin Ry?kai Mandala (The Mandalas of the Two Worlds). His photography was later used in a very lavish publication of the same title.

Between 1973 and 1993 Ishimoto produced a number of in-camera color abstractions that appeared as covers for the Japanese magazine Approach. In 1980, at the Museum of Modern Art, he photographed Monet's Water Lilies in detail and full size.

Ishimoto returned to Katsura in 1982 and took another series of photographs, this time with many in color, often using the same or very similar views to those of his 1953 photographs at the same location. Work from this project was published in Katsura Villa: Space and Form.

His more recent photography dealt with the transitory nature of life as shown in his photographs of clouds, footprints in melting snow and fallen leaves. This theme was also evident in his photographs of Ise Shrine (also known as Ise Jing?), which he was permitted to photograph in 1993. This ancient Shinto shrine is torn down and rebuilt every twenty years.[7]

Ishimoto participated in many exhibitions, including New Japanese Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in 1974, solo shows in 1960 and 1999 at the Art Institute of Chicago, a retrospective in 1989-1990 at Seibu Museum of Art in Tokyo, and an exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, in 1996.

Ishimoto's many awards include winning the Young Photographer's Contest, Life magazine (1950); the photographer of the year award, Japan Photo Critics Association (1957); the Mainichi Art Award (1970); the annual award (1978, 1990) and distinguished contribution award (1991) of the Photographic Society of Japan; and governmental medals of honour (1983, 1993). In 1996 the Japanese government named Ishimoto a Person of Cultural Merit, an honour that includes a lifelong stipend. In 2004 Ishimoto donated his archive of seven thousand images, valued at 1.4 billion yen, to the Museum of Art, Kochi. In English, Yasuhiro Ishimoto signed his name "Yas Ishimoto" (see examples[8]).

Ishimoto died at the age of 90 on February 6, 2012, after being hospitalized the month before for a stroke.[9]

Major exhibitions

Solo exhibitions

Joint exhibitions


Books devoted to Ishimoto's work

  • Aru hi aru tokoro () / Someday somewhere. Geibi Shuppansha, 1958. Tuttle, 1959.
  • Katsura: Nihon kenchiku ni okeru dent? to s?z? (? ?) / Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture. Z?keisha and Yale University Press, 1960. Second edition (without English text): Tokyo: Chk?ronsha, 1971. English-language edition: New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972. ISBN 0-300-01599-2
  • Shikago, Shikago (?) / Chicago, Chicago. Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppansha, 1969. Second edition Tokyo: Japan Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-87040-553-5
  • Metropolis [Toshi] (1971)
  • (With Haruo Tomiyama.) Ningen kakumei no kiroku (?) / The Document of Human Revolution. Tokyo: Shashin Hy?ronsha, 1973.
  • N?men (, "Noh masks"). Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1974.
  • Den Shingonin Ry?kai Mandara () / The Mandalas of the Two Worlds. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1977. Photographs on folded screens, lavishly produced and packed in two very large boxes. (An edition of 500, priced at 880,000 yen.)
  • Eros und Cosmos in Mandala: The Mandalas of the Two Worlds at the Kyoo Gokoku-ji. Seibu Museum of Art.
  • Den Shingon in mandara (?). Kyoto: Sanburaito Shuppan, 1978.
  • Kunisaki kik? (?, "Kunisaki travelogue"). Nihon no Bi. Tokyo: Sh?eisha, 1978. A large-format collection of colour photographs of the Kunisaki peninsula in Ky?sh?.
  • Karesansui no niwa (, "Dry gardens"). Tokyo: K?dansha, 1980.
  • Yamataikoku gens? (). Nihon no Kokoro. Tokyo: Sh?eisha, 1980.
  • Isuramu: K?kan to mon'y? (?:) / Islam: Space and Design. Kyoto: Shinshind?, 1980.
  • K?koku no j?ichimen kannon (?). Tokyo: Iwanami, 1982.
  • Shikago, Shikago: Sono 2 (? 2) / Chicago, Chicago. Tokyo: Libro Port, 1983. ISBN 978-4-8457-0098-1.
  • Shikago, Shikago: Sono 2 (? 2) / Chicago, Chicago. Tokyo: Canon, 1983. More black and white photographs of Chicago. No captions; foreword and chronology of the photographer in Japanese.
  • Katsura riky?: K?kan to katachi ( ?). Tokyo: Iwanami, 1983. English translation: Katsura Villa: Space and Form. New York: Rizzoli, 1987.
  • Hana (?) / Hana. Tokyo: Ky?ry?d?, 1988. ISBN 4-7630-8804-1. English edition: Flowers, San Francisco: Chronicle, 1989. ISBN 0-87701-668-2.
  • Ky? no tewaza: Takumi-tachi no emoy? (:?). Tokyo: Gakugei Shorin, 1988. ISBN 4-905640-14-8.
  • The Photography of Yasuhiro Ishimoto: 1948-1989. Tokyo: Seibu Museum of Art, 1989.
  • Ishimoto Yasuhiro Shashinten 1946-2001 (? 1946-2001) / Yasuhiro Ishimoto. K?chi, K?chi: The Museum of Art, Kochi, 2001. Text in Japanese and English.
  • Arata Isozaki Works 30: Architectural Models, Prints, Drawings. Gingko, 1992. ISBN 4-89737-139-2.
  • Ise Jing? (?, "Ise shrine"). Tokyo: Iwanami, 1995. ISBN 4-00-008061-X.
  • Genzai no kioku () / Remembrance of Things Present. Tokyo: National Museum of Modern Art, 1996. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the National Film Center in 1996. Captions and text in both Japanese and English.
  • Ishimoto Yasuhiro (?). Nihon no Shashinka. Tokyo: Iwanami, 1997. ISBN 4-00-008366-X. A compact survey of Ishimoto's monochrome work; text in Japanese only.
  • Yasuhiro Ishimoto: A Tale of Two Cities. Ed. Colin Westerbeck. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1999. ISBN 0-86559-170-9. Catalogue of an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, May-September 1999.
  • Toki (?) / Moment. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2004. ISBN 4-00-008366-X. A survey of Ishimoto's monochrome work; text in Japanese and English.
  • Shibuya, Shibuya (?). Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2007. ISBN 978-4-582-27764-7. Monochrome images, mostly of the backs of individual people waiting for the lights to change at the main crossroads in front of Shibuya Station. No captions; the minimal text is in Japanese and English.
  • Meguriau iro to katachi (?) / Composition. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2008. ISBN 978-4-582-27769-2. Compositions of colors. The minimal text is in Japanese only.
  • Taj? rok? (?) / Multi Exposure. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Katsura riky? (). 2010. ISBN 4-89737-655-6.
  • Nakamori, Yasufumi. Katsura: Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture. Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 2010. ISBN 0-300-16333-9.
  • Moriyama Akiko (?). Ishimoto Yasuhiro: Shashin to iu shik? (? ?) / Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Beyond the Eye that Shapes. ?, 2010. ISBN 4901631950?

Other works

  • Szarkowski, John, and Shoji Yamagishi. New Japanese Photography. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1974. ISBN 0-87070-503-2 (hard), ISBN 0-87070-503-2 (paper) Four photographs (1953-1954) from Katsura (1960).
  • (in Japanese) Nihon n?do meisakush? (, Japanese nudes). Camera Mainichi bessatsu. Tokyo: Mainichi Shinbunsha, 1982. Pp. 166-69 show nudes by Ishimoto.
  • Nihon shashin no tenkan: 1960 nendai no hy?gen (?:1960) / Innovation in Japanese Photography in the 1960s. Tokyo: Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1991. Exhibition catalogue, text in Japanese and English. Pp. 68-77 show examples from "Chicago, Chicago".
  • Densha ni miru toshi f?kei 1981–2006 ( 1981–2006 / Scenes of Tokyo City: Prospects from the Train 1981–2006. Tama City, Tokyo: Tama City Cultural Foundation Parthenon Tama, 2006. Exhibition catalogue; pp. 4–13 are devoted to Ishimoto. Captions and text in Japanese and English.


  1. ^ Or sometimes Ishimoto Taihaku. For example, the photographs "Jid?sha no im?ji" (; alternative English title "Land of Cars") in Asahi Camera February 1962, pp. 70-74, are credited to ? and "Taihaku Ishimoto"; in his English-language summary at the back of the magazine, the editor refers to him as "Taihaku (Yasuhiro) Ishimoto".
  2. ^ a b c d e f Selections., ?, 1921-2012. Photographs. 100? = Ishimoto Yasuhiro centennial. ISBN 978-4-582-20720-0. OCLC 1198813411.
  3. ^ Luisa Orto and Matsuda Takako, 'Artist Profiles'; in Tucker, et al., The History of Japanese Photography, 345.
  4. ^ Camper, Fred (June 10, 1999). "Men on the Street, The everyday art of two extraordinary photographers: Marvin Newman and Yasuhiro Ishimoto". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012.
  5. ^ Michèle Auer and Michel Auer, Encyclopédie internationale des photographes de 1839 à nos jours/Photographers Encyclopaedia International 1839 to the Present (Hermance: Editions Camera Obscura, 1985). Auer and Auer mention only "filmmakers", but presumably intend to include photographers.
  6. ^ Auer and Auer use the phrase "Middle and Near East".
  7. ^ Orto and Matsuda.
  8. ^ "Yasuhiro Ishimoto, photographs". Canadian Centre for Architecture. Retrieved 2020.
  9. ^ [1][permanent dead link]

References and external links

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