7 Japanese Photographers to Know

Federico Alegría
4 min readDec 5, 2021
Portrait of Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama, Tokyo 2010, By Sebastian Mayer

I have gained some new insights into man

through having looked deeply at nature.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

As someone from the West, I find Japanese photography extremely intriguing. Japan has been known for having a rich culture, and photography by Japanese people is no exception. Nowadays there are a lot of very well-known Japanese photographers, such as Hiroshi Sugimoto or Rinko Kawauchi.

Rinko Kawauchi (1972 — )

She is a photographer with an easy-to-identify style. Her work is filled with serenity and poetry around ordinary moments. She started working in the advertising industry and continued there for quite a while before deciding it was enough. Since then, she has pursued a career as a fine art photographer.

She mostly uses the generous 6X6 format, and human presence is almost nonexistent in her images. Viewing her work, I can’t stop recalling the poetry of William Carlos Williams.

Nobuyoshi Araki (1940 — )

Araki is a creative monster who has released 450 photobooks and still doesn’t miss a day without taking photographs, as you will learn in this interview from the great guys over at Vice. He was born in Tokyo and studied photography from 1959 to 1963. In 1963, he started working at an advertising agency called Dentsu.

Arākī (his nickname) is considered to be one of the most prolific artists ever — not just in Japan, but in the world. His style is unique. I have no words to describe it. It is just a blast of expression of the sort that few artists achieve. Perhaps this photograph is my favourite from Arākī.

You can see more of his work here and here. Viewer discretion is very much advised.

Daidō Moriyama (1938 — )

Street photography is my biggest passion, so Daidō Moriyama’s work was an absolute must for this list. As Moriyama is a self-proclaimed addict of cities, his street photography comes as no surprise.

Since 1968, he has been obsessed with capturing the frantic nature of cities with a unique aesthetic that reflects the dark side of urban life. He has various influences — from Weegee to the great novel “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac (who wrote the introduction…

Federico Alegría

Documentary Photographer, Writer, Researcher & PhD Cand.