top コラムTokyo Photobook Tour6 森山大道『Tokyo』

Tokyo Photobook Tour

6 森山大道『Tokyo』

John Sypal

Were your first international travel experiences made prior to the smartphone age? 

Yes? Nice. Me too. 

As you may remember, and younger folks might not know, part of prepping for a trip back then was to browse the travel section at your local bookstore for a chunky, 300-page guide to the country you were headed to. If you’ve done this, there’s no doubt you’ll be struck immediately as to how the cover of Daido Moriyama’s “Tokyo”, references (good-naturedly parodies?) the iconic Lonely Planet travel book series design. 

That’s right- this week’s photobook is: The Tokyo guidebook for Daido fans. 


The Lonely Planet-ness of the book’s design permeates throughout its 220 pages- each section, with a handy thumb index tab, presents a different area of the city: Central Tokyo, East Tokyo, West Tokyo, Moriyama’s favorite haunts of Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, as well as Ueno, Asakusa, and Ginza, among many others. Sightseeing spots in each area, boldly labeled in Helvetica, are featured. Tokyo Tower, Shibuya Crossing, Yanaka Ginza- even the Reading Glasses Museum in Ikebukuro- are given the Daido snap treatment and, on the last page of each section, information (phone numbers, official websites, and station access) for each spot is provided. While a traditional Tokyo guidebook is mostly text, photographs are what make up this one. Text is limited to those previously mentioned bits of basic information and a charming two-page afterword by Moriyama himself. This reflection on the act of photographing Tokyo for sixty years(!) appears in Japanese, English, and Chinese.


The pictures? New work- - and Contemporary Digital Daido.

While known and adored for the Are Bure Boke aesthetic which he helped Provoke the photo world with in the 1960s, the crispness and extreme depth of field of his compact digital cameras have eliminated any Bure (blur) and Boke (out of focus). However, there is plenty of dry, pixely Are (roughness) to enjoy. 


With its inherent inclination towards graphic design, the digital (compact camera) medium suits Moriyama and his pictures extremely well. And while I must admit that I’ve never been able to fully “get” Moriyama’s work, I think that he is pushing the understanding of what digital photography can look like. Perhaps it’s not that different than back when he was bucket-developing dozens of rolls of Tri-x at a time in the 60s. 

One thing that is different now though is- rather than his photography itself- the audience for it. International Moriyama fans are a phenomenon. Particularly on the internet, one can find plenty of YouTube Daido explainer videos and tribute instagram fan accounts of his work and countless high contrast Photo Diaries which echo his look by people in cities around the world. From what I see online, the extent of the effect that Moriyama and the Provoke Experience have had on contemporary photography cannot be overstated. I don’t know how well most Japanese photographers understand just how popular Moriyama is among a particular fan base abroad- or that so many of these fans either dream of, or annually make, Are Bure Boke photo street-snapping trips to Japan. I’m talking afternoons of wading through Shibuya Crossing with a Ricoh GR, and nightly pilgrimages to tiny bars (one in particular) in Golden-Gai. I get it- this is an appealing way to spend two weeks off of work and individual enjoyment of their vacation is something which everyone absolutely has a right to. 

For the most part, the interest which the Japanese photo scene has for foreign photographic interpretations of Tokyo is minimal, or at most, simply garners polite acknowledgement- particularly when they look like contrasty stuff that was first popular over fifty years ago. But the audience for these vacation pictures isn’t in Tokyo- it’s back home or online. 


Wait, where am I going with this?  


Ah yes, Daido Fans. 


So, who is this book for?   Moriyama’s fans, certainly, but I feel that this book would be great for anyone with an interest in Japanese photography or even Tokyo Travel in general.


Ideally, stacks of this book would be available in Narita or Haneda airport bookshops and in gift-shops around the city- it’s got a catchy cover and it’s easy to imagine that someone who’s never even heard of Provoke or Daido Moriyama might want to pick up a copy. At a mere 1500 yen (about $12 USD), it would make for a fine souvenir... 


But, to travel, perchance to visit Tokyo: aye, there lies the rub. 

This book, with its sincere concept, clever execution, and generously affordable price point, was published in June of 2020, right in the middle of the first coronavirus wave in Japan. There were no inbound tourists then- and, as of this writing (April, 2022), the nation’s borders remain closed to general tourism. I suspect sales were stunted by this unfortunate timing.

This pandemic frame of reference adds a bit to the book now-  Moriyama’s pictures show a pre-Corona, fully-touristed and lively Tokyo that feels either like a dream or a decade ago. The incongruity of our present situation with the intent of the book makes the conclusion of his afterword that much more interesting. 

In it, he says:

The photographs in this book capture scenes of present-day Tokyo, taken from my own personal point of view while continuously wandering around the streets and alleys, always in pursuit of that thrill that I had experienced back in the day.

If you happen to be walking around Tokyo with this book and a camera in your hands, I encourage you to create your own portrait of the city, from your own perspective and after your own taste.


Here’s hoping that all those who love and wish to visit Tokyo- again or for the first time- are able to do so, soon.  


And hey- once it’s possible again, before you step out of the airport, try and see if you can’t find a copy of this book before setting out to make that original city portrait which Moriyama encourages us all to try.








そうです!今週のフォトブックは DaidoファンのためのDaido Tokyoのガイドブックを紹介します。







1960年代に写真界を挑発したAre Bure Bokeの美学で知られ、愛されてきましたが、コンパクトデジタルカメラの鮮明さと極端な被写界深度により、Bure(ブレ)やBoke(ピンぼけ)を排除しています。しかし、乾いたピクセルのようなAre(荒々しさ)は十分に楽しめます。





海外の森山ファンはすごいですよ。特にインターネット上では、YouTubeの大道紹介ビデオやトリビュート・インスタグラムのファンアカウント、世界中の都市の人々によるモリヤマのルックに呼応する無数のハイコントラストなフォトダイアリーなどを見つけることができます。ネットで見る限り、森山さんとProvoke が現代のアマチュア写真世界に与えた影響の大きさは言い尽くすことができません。



海外ファンの多くが「Are Bure Boke」写真のストリートスナップの旅を夢見ています。例えば、夏休みに来日して渋谷の交差点をリコーGR片手に歩き回り、そしてゴールデン街の小さなバーに毎晩通い詰める。




…あれ?なんの話しているんだっけ? そうだ、Daidoファンだ。









  • もし、この本と、そしてカメラを手に、この街を巡る人がいるならば、どうかそれぞれの視点で、興味の赴くままに、東京を活写してほしい。


東京を愛し、再び、あるいは初めて訪れたいと願うすべての人々が、一日も早くそうなることを願っています。 そして、いつか気軽に入国できる時になったら、外国人が空港を出る前に、この本があるかどうか本屋を確かめてから、森山さんが勧めてくれたオリジナルの街のポートレートを撮りに出かけられれば、いいと思います。




PCT Members

PCT Membersは、Photo & Culture, Tokyoのウェブ会員制度です。

特典1「Photo & Culture, Tokyo」最新の更新情報や、ニュースなどをお届けメールマガジンのお届け
今後もさらに充実したサービスを拡充予定! PCT Membersに登録する