Photographs by Keijiro Kai.
Totem Pole Photo, 2013. 28 pp., 21 color illustrations, 11¾x10¼".
Signed copies available!
Selected as a Book of the Week by Yoko Sawada
'I wondered what these men are doing. Are they the scenes of a riot or a kind of protest movement? Even so, against what? Against who? Although really not knowing about the background story, I was attracted to these photographs for some reason. Throughout the book, I can see how madly excited all the men are, and perhaps the man with the camera was no exception. Shrove Tuesday is the first photobook self-published by Keijiro Kai (b. 1974) from Japan. Kai, who had experience in working for sports magazines, had learned from a book about an annual event in England which preserves the origins of the game of football. He traveled to Ashbourne in Derbyshire to take photographs of this amazing game. Over two days in winter, on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, the people flock to this small town for 'Shrovetide Football Match.' There are only a few rules such as, 'committing murder is prohibited,' and 'cemeteries, churchyards are out of bounds.' It is played by two teams and all the players fight over one ball together. However, Kai’s photographs do not show us the ball. Here lies the key to the success of this photobook. For the scenes without the ball remind us of the more energetic, yet primitive nature of human activities prior to the establishment of the modern concept of 'sports.' The pure movements of human bodies are revealed in the photographs of men who simply run, bump, shout and brace, just like animals pursuing their prey with passionate instincts. The farcically serious looks on each player's face are so dignified, as though cutting through the pressures and stress of contemporary society.' — Yoko Sawada from photo-eye's Book of the Week.