top コラムTokyo Photobook Tour15 荒木経惟・飯田鉄・高梨豊『私だけの東京散歩』〈下町・都心篇〉〈山の手・郊外篇〉

Tokyo Photobook Tour

15 荒木経惟・飯田鉄・高梨豊『私だけの東京散歩』〈下町・都心篇〉〈山の手・郊外篇〉

John Sypal

Tokyo is a city for walking. Going somewhere to walk & look around has long been a popular pastime and nearly as long as there’s been people with time and interest in touring the city there have been books for- and about- walking. Even today bookstores offer countless guides to the city's sights and streets.  

『私だけの東京散歩』, "My Own Tokyo Walks" is a two-volume set of books published by Sakushin-sha in 1995.  Each volume is comprised of a few pages of text featuring some 28 writers, actors, intellectuals, and artists as they walked in a different part of Tokyo.  For each article, the subjects were accompanied by one of three photographers: Nobuyoshi Araki, Yutaka Takanashi, or Tetsu Iida.

The books are fittingly (and traditionally) divided into Tokyo's Low (east) and High (west) parts-
and readers are offered a personal look at each neighborhood. Memories or observations abound in the essays, with the openness in the accompanying photographs richly adding to the experience. These books a few things at the same time- they’re a travel guide, a personal essay collection, and photobook. Or maybe, a “book with photos”.  It's very much the sort of thing one finds in magazines today- it's also a popular genre of TV shows. Famous People Talking Walks is an eternal staple of Japanese television programming and chances are, if you turn on your television at this moment such a show is being broadcast.


There’s a wonderful casualness to the photographs in these pages- they’re not “masterpieces”, but rather very open, somewhat simple pictures of the things and places that make up each neighborhood. This straightforwardness is shared between the photographers- randomly opening a page, one has to look for the photo credit on the chapter’s opening page to know for sure who took those particular photos. (It also makes for a fun guessing game, too.)


Speaking of the photographers, for all their impact on Japanese Photography (Takanashi being a founding member of Provoke, and Araki being Araki) it’s quite enjoyable that these men would participate in a project like this. (Iida, a longtime chronicler of the city, is less of a surprise but an absolutely essential addition.)

I’m not saying that they’re above such a thing- no, what I mean is that the fact that the charm of a project like this is how it is so far removed from any pretensions of High Art World. I think it speaks to the malleability of the idea of “photography”, and Photographers in Japan. 

As for these books as history- it's worth noting how strikingly different Tokyo looks today compared to the early 1990s. A young Dave Spector gives a tour of a now unrecognizable Omotesando, and in the Yanaka chapter, more than a few buildings (most?) seen in the pages have long since been torn down and replaced. Asakusa too, is shown as the quiet shadow of its 1990’s self then before tourism explosion in the late 2000s.

These books are too dated or too practical or just simply too common to be sought after by collectors- but to me they're interesting for those exact reasons. 


A compulsive late-night Mericari find, the 900 yen I spent on these books was worth it. 


































作品社 /1995年




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