top コラムTokyo Photobook Tour2 善本喜一郎『東京タイムスリップ1984⇔2021』

Tokyo Photobook Tour

2 善本喜一郎『東京タイムスリップ1984⇔2021』

John Sypal

“Tokyo Time Slip 1984 - 2020” by Kiichiro Yoshimoto.


This is a fascinating book of rephotography that records changes the city has experienced over the past thirty-six years. While a student in the early 1980s, Yoshimoto made an extensive photographic survey of Tokyo. His pictures from that time are remarkable in their steady sense of distance. Rather than a dramatic, poetic interpretation of life on the street they instead clearly describe its space and surfaces- surfaces which in turn offer a view of an era. 

 As a collection they are entirely competent, wonderfully descriptive pictures of Tokyo in 1984. This alone would make for a good photobook but, finding himself at home with his old negatives in 2020, Yoshimoto embarked upon a project to pair the past with the present. 


The core concept is immediately understood by anyone who sees the cover- Yoshimoto re-visited and re-photographed the same street corners in 2020. 

Printed on facing pages, the then/now spreads provide an opportunity to do something which only photography is capable of- to compare two truths at the same time. (That the Japanese are able to employ this ability throughout other aspects/facts of life is an essay for another day.) 


Looking at the pages, one can marvel at large changes- there are far more glass cubes in Tokyo now than there were 36 years ago- or be intrigued at how over the years signs and light poles have been imperceptibly upgraded and moved over a meter. In these details Yoshimoto expresses one of Tokyo's great paradoxes: Despite continual change the city remains the "same". 


Between the temporal back-and-forth inherent in the pairing of the 1984 / 2020 images lies another dimension- one which supports memories which viewers themselves have made in these places. The openness of Yoshimoto’s images allow plenty of room for individual recollections to bubble to the surface. It’s unlikely that anyone who has been to Tokyo won’t find a familiar view, and with it, a memory of a feeling, or time, or face connected to the places shown.


The book’s “hook” and accessibility have made it quite popular- a popularity which appeals to far more people than the usual crowd that buys photobooks. A best-seller on amazon and at Kinokuniya in Tokyo, Tokyo Time Slip is now in its fourth printing.  Likewise, the book benefits from a clean layout, interesting captions, and an affordable 2000 yen price tag. 

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in broadening their understanding- or memories- of Tokyo.






善本さんは学生時代(1984年頃)、東京を徹底的に撮影していました。その写真は、決してドラマチックで詩的な捉え方ではなく、目の前を記録するように安定した距離感が感じられます。表面を明確に写し、その表面が時代観を支えています。 これだけでも立派な写真集になるのですが、2020年に自宅で古いネガをベースにして、善本さんの過去と現在を対にしたプロジェクトを始めました。





















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