Photographs and text by Hiroh Kikai. Edited by Noriko Fuku, Christopher Phillips. Text by Hiromichi Hosoma.
Steidl, Gottingen, 2008. 220 pp., 200 tritone illustrations, 8¾x8¾".
The Asakusa quarter of Tokyo has a shady past—it was the home of some of Japan’s
most notorious pleasure palaces. Today it embraces this history by remaining a steadfast
holdout of independent culture, which encompasses traditional comedy theater and
some of the most innovative burlesque in the world. Asakusa has long attracted bohemians
who opt out of Japan’s contemporary consumer society, yet it is also home to the
famous Senso-ji temple, which attracts floods of tourists. Over the past two decades,
Hiroh Kikai has created an extensive and unforgettable series of street portraits from the
diverse mass of people who pass through the district. Posed against the stark walls of
the temple, his portraits of Asakusa’s iconoclasts radiate a sense of hard-won individuality.
The photographs are accompanied by Kikai’s own pithy commentary.