Japan Modern | People

Tomatsu Shomei

(born Nagoya, 1930–2012)

Never formally trained as a photographer, Tomatsu began shooting in the early 1950s while attending Aichi University. After a brief period working for the Iwanami Photography Library series, he became a freelance photographer and founded the VIVO agency with Narahara Ikko, Hosoe Eikoh, Kawada Kikuji, Tanno Akira, and Sato Akira. From 1957 to 1961, VIVO established its reputation as a groundbreaking photography cooperative, and Tomatsu’s work gained recognition. He won numerous awards and was celebrated with exhibitions both in Japan and abroad throughout his lengthy career.

Tomatsu’s 1960 series Chewing Gum and Chocolates (originally titled Occupation) reflects his early obsession with the pervasive influence of the US military presence in Japan after the war. Along with subsequent visual essays on such subjects as Nagasaki, Okinawa, and war protests in Tokyo, he created an iconic body of work documenting postwar Japan.

Images © Shomei Tomatsu – INTERFACE

Works in Japan Modern: