top コラムRecommended photobook17 Yasuko Noguchi "In Search of Sakura" 野口靖子『桜狩り In Search of Sakura』

Recommended photobook

17 Yasuko Noguchi "In Search of Sakura"
野口靖子『桜狩り In Search of Sakura』

John Sypal

Each spring, as the cherry trees bloom across Japan I can’t help but wonder if the number of photos taken of them outnumber total number of petals nationwide. Well regarded as an eternal, essential element of Japanese culture, the brief, beautiful life of the cherry blossom popularly evokes mono no aware, a concept where the inevitable transience of existence (aware) is recognized with a touch of gentle sadness and appreciation. 


Yasuko Noguchi’s book, In Search of Sakura (Fields, 2022), is the result of a young photographer finding her way through the medium in the early 2000s.  That such aware can be felt to the depth that it is in her book has less to do with actual cherry trees than it does her exceptional sensitivity to fleeting, unguarded human (and animal) moments.  


In his book A Tractate on Japanese Aestheics, Donald Riche said that: 


Aware is applied to the aspects of nature (or life, or art) that move a susceptible individual to an awareness of the ephemeral beauty of a world in which change is the only constant. His or her reaction may be a resigned melancholy or an awe, or even a measured and accepting pleasure.


On her website Noguchi writes that these pictures were taken in, and soon after, photography school. She adds that she began searching for “gaps” in the everyday which might reveal timelessness.  It’s within these gaps that she glimpsed something greater- something less susceptible to verbal description. 

Only a photograph could suffice.


Like many photographers in the spring of their career, she was (and remains), as Riche put it, a “susceptible individual”, and with open eyes and a camera, created photographs which to me match his suggested reactions; They are comprised of various parts melancholy, awe, humor, and appreciation. 


All the right ingredients to let an interesting photographer bloom.



Notes on book design:  In Search of Sakura is a comfortably sized, squarish paperback. The images are printed large and with print quality suited to the tonal range of her lens and film.  I find the book’s washi endpapers particularly charming. The paper used was made with tiny flakes of silver pressed into the pulp- their random, scattered effect calls to mind petals in the wind.  Bonus: Removing the book’s dust jacket reveals two additional images- a design trick which Japanese book designers (and photographers who want to show as many pictures as possible) often employ.  


I first encountered Noguchi’s photographs in “Sakura-bito” (Sakura people) , a slimmer, A4-sized version of this work published by Osaka's Vacuum Press collective in 2008.  (I have a copy but can’t seem to find it at the moment…).   The publisher for this enhanced version is “Fields”  Noguchi’s own print label.  Through it she’s steadily been making her work available in book form. If you like what you’ve seen here be sure to visit her website to learn more. 


In Search of Sakura is available on her website here.

Or at shashasha:






野口靖子の写真集『桜狩り In Search of Sakura』(Fields、2022年)は、2000年代初頭に若い写真家がphotographyを通して自分の道を見つけた結果なのだと思います。




ドナルド・リチー(映画監督・映画批評家)は、著書『A Tractate on Japanese Aestheics』(紫紅社、2007年)の中で、次のように述べています。


  • 「哀れ」は、自然(または人生、芸術)の側面から、感受性豊かな人を、変化が唯一の定数である世界の儚い美しさに気づかせるために適用されます。その反応は、諦観に満ちたメランコリーや畏敬の念、あるいは慎重かつ受容的な喜びであるかもしれません。
Donald Richie





















最後に、私が野口さんの写真に出会ったのは、2008年、大阪の「Vacuum Press」から出版された、この作品をA4サイズにスリム化した『桜人』でした。『桜人』強化版とも言える『桜狩り』の発行元は、野口さん自身のプリントレーベル「Fields」です。 このレーベルを通じて、野口さんは着実に自分の作品を本を発表しています。






  • 野口靖子『桜狩り In Search of Sakura』
  • レーベル:Fields
  • 発行:2022年7月
  • 価格=4,400円(税込)
  • 写真専門学校の学生時代から、卒業後の約6年間にかけて撮影していました。
  • 自己と他者が織りなす空間で、幾巡にも繰り返される日常。


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