10 June 2011

Japanese Erotic Photography

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Japanese smut; on one hand, I think Japanese girls can be stunning and very alluring; on the other, I find very little material that really does their qualities justice. Well, at least as much as we get to see in the west. We get the Gravure idols - beautiful girls shot in various flowery bikinis and the like, beaming at the camera... but despite the perfection of their figures and the revealing nature of their attire, still rather lacking any erotic quality. Then there's the more typical Japanese porn; where the girls (often, seemingly, the same ones as above) seem to get thoroughly seen-to in various ways, and often by multiple guys... I can see the appeal of that too, but I don't really share it.

There seems little middle ground, of creative, inspired and arousing work. There are some notable exceptions, though, and although I don't know enough of them, here are 3 that I do.

I have two of Ken-Ichi Murata's 3 'Princess' books, published by Edition Reuss. His work is unique; hand-coloured, black and white photographs of girls in gothic, fairy-tale situations. It's arguably conceptually similar to John Santerineross; but not quite as dark, and the extra colour - and explicitness - that Murata-san applies makes it more erotic than just art for art's sake.

Also by Edition Reuss is Yasuji Watanabe's Tokyo Girls - a favourite collection of more urban, contemporary photography, ranging from candids, to surreal. Again unique, although this is exactly the level of eroticism that I wish I could see more of from Japan.

And finally, via Taschen's New Erotic Photography, I've recently discovered Maki Miyashita; she's not as focused on eroticism, but as well as gracing the cover, she has some great studies of girls in the disarray of their own rooms; certainly not derivative, but perhaps a Japanese counterpart to Peter Gorman's.

Anyway, it's good to see that it's not all just kawaii girls and orgies in Japan - not that there's anything wrong, per se, with either of those ;) Some writeups of the above books will follow, meantime I'm glad to be following these three very different photographers on Twitter; although I can't read their tweets, links and pictures need little translation!

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