Japan Modern | Places


Once a fishing village, Yokosuka became an important trading center in the late nineteenth century and later a base for the Imperial Japanese Navy. After World War II, the city became a controversial operational site for the US Navy and an important subject for postwar photographers.

Tomatsu Shomei traveled to many of the towns surrounding US military bases, including Yokosuka, as part of his examination of the American presence in Japan. Rarely entering the bases, he instead focused on the surrounding neighborhoods, shooting from the perspective of an outsider in a country both familiar and irrevocably changed. His densely layered image of a child in a seedy part of Yokosuka, from the series Chewing Gum and Chocolates, is emblematic of his conflicted memories of postwar life.

Inspired by Tomatsu’s work, Moriyama Daido moved to the Yokosuka area and photographed around the military base in 1964. Outside bars and down back alleys, he further developed the snapshot technique and edgy contrast that would become his signature style of capturing modern Japan’s chaotic energy.