top コラムRecommended photobook4 Koji Onaka "memories of younger days in Shinjuku" 尾仲浩二『あの頃、新宿で』

Recommended photobook

4 Koji Onaka "memories of younger days in Shinjuku" 尾仲浩二『あの頃、新宿で』

John Sypal

In addition to being the busiest transportation hub of the metropolis, Shinjuku might also be considered its photographic center, as well.  A major commercial district, Shinjuku is home to small used camera shops as well as the massive photo-supply juggernaut, Yodobashi Camera.

In the area one also finds a slew of galleries- both by camera makers and smaller, artist-run spots that survive on the financial means and passion of their members. Shinjuku’s spectacle and mood has been the muse for many a photographer- one could easily compile a taller stack of books with it as a theme (or even title) than they could any other part of Tokyo.

Shinjuku has long been a point of entry for Tokyo- a gathering place for the city’s many transplants.  Fukuoka-born photographer Koji Onaka, having moved to Tokyo for school, spent his student days in this western part of the city. After graduating in 1982 Onaka worked with the gallery Image Shop Camp before opening his own photo space, Kaido.  

“Memories of Younger Days in Shinjuku” is a collection of pictures published by Kaido Books in 2018. The images inside were taken over twelve years, from his graduation from photo school to 1994. 



Part of Shinjuku’s energy is the inevitable, non-stop transformation of its streets and structures. Despite the changes wrought by developers and chain-store conglomerates, it’s fascinating to recognize so many street corners in these pages. Often, even though nearly every building and sign in a particular frame has changed since the late 80s, that “there” is still, well, “there”.   Unless it’s not. Other parts are absolutely unrecognizable, now replaced by the cold, tiled landscaping of massive glass tower blocks or yet another Starbucks. This element of change is a theme of the book. There, amongst the snapshots of his life (apartment, galleries) and friends (bars, photographers), a particular set of buildings, seen across the street from a few floors up, appears. This view (from Kaido?) looks like any other street in the book- composed of somewhat shoddy, aging buildings and a public bath. But, slowly, as pages turn, this small block gives way to demolition, to change. We see it one last time, the third to the last picture- what stood has been replaced by a freshly poured parking lot.


I first visited Shinjuku (my own “gateway” to the city) in 1998. Being the photographic hub of the city, I’ve visited it weekly since 2004. Whether the tempo of development has quickened since the early 90s, I am unable to say. I do think that the scale of it has shifted- with not just buildings but a mood over the area. The current touristic Disney-ification of Golden-Gai and Kabukicho isn’t something that I- nor especially anyone in Onaka’s photos- could have believed back then. Within these pages of younger days there’s a sort of grit and grime which is vanishing from Shinjuku. This period of Shinjuku was one of texture and signage- a more lived-in, human feeling. Not one of safety, but of life. Today, while Shinjuku shadows remain, things are far smoother and cleaner- its corners are rounded, with more things are aligned, sterilized, and brightened behind glass and security cameras. 


  • “Back then, on the streets of Shinjuku, he was there as two people – the dashing, daring Koji and the gloomy Onaka.”  –– Daido Moriyama


So notes Daido Moriyama in the book’s only text.  I can’t help but wonder what Koji and Onaka would have thought of the city today. Thankfully though, through this wonderful book, we can glimpse their feelings for it then. 



新宿は、東京で最もにぎやかな交通の要所であると同時に、写真の中心地として知られているのではないでしょうか。 カメラを買うなら、中古カメラ店やヨドバシカメラが有名です。 写真を見るなら、カメラメーカーのギャラリーから、小さなインディー派ギャラリーまで、たくさん展示を見られるスペースがあります。写真を撮るなら、やっぱり、新宿の光景と雰囲気は昔から多くの写真家のミューズです。賑やかな道はスナップ楽園。そう、「新宿」をテーマにした写真集は、東京の他のどの地域よりも簡単に高く積み上げることができるでしょう。


新宿は東京の玄関であり、昔から東京に移り住んだ多くの人々が集まる場所です。 福岡県出身の写真家、尾仲浩二は、写真学校のために上京し、学生時代を新宿で過ごしました。1982年に卒業した後、IMAGE SHOP CAMPに所属、その後はギャラリー「街道」をオープンしました。 『あの頃、新宿で』は、尾仲さんが1982年から1994年まで撮影した写真集です。










  • “あの頃の新宿”の路上には、颯爽とした浩二君と、鬱然たる尾仲君の二人が立っていた。
  • -森山大道


この本の唯一のテキストとして、森山大道さんが文章を寄せています。 「浩二君」と「尾仲君」は、今新宿をどう思っているのだろう。しかしありがたいことに、この素晴らしい本を通じて、当時の彼らの思いを見ることができる気がします。



memories of younger days in Shinjuku


Koji Onaka

Book shop ONAKA for international


出版=KAIDO BOOKS(2018年)




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