Chapter One: For Japan

Chapter One: FOR JAPAN

Solo Exhibition by Yamasaki Ko-ji
April 5 – May 8, 2011
Kedai Bahagia, Bandung

At the end of January, I received a package from Osaka, Japan. It was only slightly bigger than an A4-size paper and less-than-an-inch thick. I was trembling with excitement because I knew what was inside — the prints from Yamasaki Ko-ji. What I didn’t realize was that he sent me 146 prints. We immediately knew that this will become a solo exhibition, rather than just a group show.

You see, I was excited because, aside from Daido Moriyama and Nobuyoshi Araki, the photographs of Yamasaki-Koji was my earliest entry point to Japanese photography. I remember seeing the dark, blur, and grainy photographs in 2005 when I started self-learning photography and dropped my jaw. I have to admit that at first I tried and tried very hard to copy his style. But, over time, I started to realize that it’s not what the most important lesson I’ve learned so far (and I will never be like him anyway). It’s his spirit and his freedom in taking photographs. For Yamasaki Ko-ji, photography is not some high or fine art — it’s even more than just a documentary of his life — it’s all his life.

“what means ‘photo is documentary’? it means own. not only a fine photo. that’s ALL my (your) life.”


After a series of earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, I contacted Yamasaki Ko-ji to ask for his condition and to ask his permission to organize a solo exhibition featuring all his prints. He said he’s alright and then proceded to ask me to sell his prints to help the victims of the disaster. And so we fulfill his request, thus this charity exhibition. We offer our condolences to the victims and to people in Japan because afterall we all have dear friends over there and we are all affected by this horrendous disaster, even if indirectly. For me, looking through these photographs makes me feel like living, even if for a glimpse, in Japan — through the eyes of Yamasaki Ko-ji — and today it makes me remember the good days before March 11, 2011. Our hearts are with the people of Japan.

Yamasaki Ko-ji is a photographer born in Kobe, Japan in October, 1959 renowned for his dark and grainy pictures documenting his daily life. His photoblogs have caught the world’s attention and received Photobloggies Awards on 2005 and 2006 for The Best Japanese Photoblog. He loves black & white, film, grain, and wandering on the street. For Yamasaki, photo documentary is all his life.

Visit his website:

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