top コラムRecommended photobook16 Sha Shin Magazine vol.3 "Spell" 雑誌『写真』第3号「スペル」

Recommended photobook

16 Sha Shin Magazine vol.3 "Spell"

John Sypal

“We need words to speak and think about photography. Photography and language symbolize and bridge our distance from the world. They allow us to connect with other people and stimulate their minds and hearts. They possess the power to link the world in its complexity and diversity. In this issue, we try to examine historical connections between photography and language and to present new ways to engage with contemporary Japanese Photography.”


So writes editor in chief, Masakazu Murakami in his letter to readers in issue three of Sha Shin magazine. As with the previous issue, it thematically orbits around a single English word. While Volume 2, “Mosaic”, pondered the tesserae which comprise photographic culture, the third issue, “Spell”, examines the relationship between language and photography.


In his letter Murakami notes that in Japanese “spell” (スペル) only means the sequence of letters used to make a word- but that the English language also uses the term to refer to magic incantations. The issue’s cover, with its tiny text of embossed, slightly offset characters overlaid upon a Kikuji Kawada photograph certainly looks like a modern wizard’s spell book.  (That “spell” can also refer to a short period- “a dry spell”, “sit a spell”- isn’t commented upon but now that I think about it, what is a photograph but a preserved, short period of time?)


This issue opens with the work of a true photographic magician- the aforementioned Kikuji Kawada, with over thirty pages of new work from his 50+ year series “Los Caprichos”.  This is followed by the showcased series of photographers, Naohiro Utagawa, Yuki Onodera, Yoko Kusano, Seiji Kumagai, Chieko Shiraishi and Gozo Yoshimasu.  Each photographer has provided text along with pictures- and thankfully an English translation for each is included. It’s an insightful look at not only their individual relationships to the medium but a great opportunity to understand how photography can be written about in Japan.



Much of this issue’s 255 pages include text (in Japanese) but, per usual for Sha Shin, there is a generous English section in the magazine.  In addition to the editor and photographer statements, English readers will find an essay by Shun Uchibayashi “Spell – Words as Support Media of Images”, and one by novelist Akiko Otake “Photography in Words” (she considers photography “a world beyond meaning”). In a frank, informal piece, photo critic Kotaro Iizawa shares personal thoughts on photography and words in select recent Japanese photobooks.


Designed by the legendary Satoshi Machiguchi and published by Fugen-sha in Tokyo, Sha Shin is available at a variety of art and photo bookshops in Tokyo. Obviously, with their English translations, this magazine is essential for anyone seriously invested in contemporary Japanese photo culture.  I believe that this magazine will, as Murakami-san mentioned, stimulate the hearts and minds of its readers.


Furthermore, I commend everyone involved in its production for the magazine’s depth and quality- but also for the sheer heroism needed to launch a new (250+ page!) magazine in 2022. I look forward to more issues in the future. 









第2号「モザイク/Mosaic」では、写真文化を構成するテッセラ※ について考えましたが、第3号は「SPELL」と題し、言葉と写真の関係を考察しています。









「Spell」のもうひとつの意味として、「短い期間」("a dry spell", "sit a spell"など)を指すこともあることはコメントされていませんが、それを踏まえて考えれば、写真とは保存された短い期間ともいえるのではないでしょうか?


今号は、写真の魔術師・川田喜久治さんの50年以上にわたるシリーズ〈ロス・カプリチョス〉の新作を、30ページ以上にわたって紹介します。 続いて草野庸子さん、宇田川直寛さん、オノデラユキさん、白石ちえこさん、熊谷聖司さん、後半には吉増剛造さんの作品が紹介されています。








東京のふげん社から発行されている『写真』は、日本各地のさまざまな書店、アートブックや写真の専門店で購入することができます。現代日本の写真文化に真剣に取り組んでいる人には欠かせない雑誌です。 編集長の村上さんがおっしゃったように、この雑誌は読者の心を揺るがしてくれると信じています。




  • 雑誌『写真』vol.3 「スペル」
  • Sha Shin Magazine "SPELL"


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