The newspapers had told me that the photographs I took for the international Pole to Pole 2000 (P2P) project “weren't really usable.” But then I met photographer Risaku Suzuki in a photography class at university, and he gave me a lot of advice, which was an opportunity to learn about different ways of photographing. And around that same time, I also met Daido Moriyama, and he agreed to take a look at my photos. I think this was around the end of my time at Waseda University. It was arranging to meet with Mr.Moriyama that brought me to Golden Gai for the first time in my life.
Naoki Ishikawa: Traveling Through My Memories of TokyoNo.009
In a small corner of Shinjuku, Tokyo’s bustling office and entertainment district with the country’s largest train station, is Shinjuku Golden Gai, a neighborhood of restaurants and bars that has fostered a unique post-war culture. It was here that Naoki Ishikawa, about to graduate from university and searching for a way to present his photographs to the world, had a fateful encounter with photographer Daido Moriyama.
Photo & text: Naoki Ishikawa
Mr.Moriyama took the time to really look at each and every one of the hundreds of slides I'd brought with me. The photos he picked out included some that the newspaper people said they couldn’t use and even ones that I myself thought myself were no good.
Some of the photos I took on my P2P trip were taken with a QuickSnap disposable camera. QuickSnap film produces negatives, and I had each negative converted to a positive image. When I had this done at a local photo shop, the sky above the Artic snowfield, for example, turned as blue as the southern ocean. Mr.Moriyama pointed to a shot with a white bear far off in the distance, looking like a grain of rice, and said, “I like this one. The color is rather interesting.” This ended up as the cover shot for my first photo book (Pole to Pole: The Wind that Connects the Polar Circles, 2003, Chuokoron-Shinsha, Inc.).
That day is my first indelible memory of the streets of Shinjuku, and I still think of Mr.Moriyama whenever I go there.
About half a year after I met Mr.Moriyama, the curator of the gallery epSITE, when it was still in Nishi-Shinjuku (now located in Chiyoda-ku), asked me about a solo exhibition of my P2P photos. This would be the first time that I ever exhibited my photos (Naoki Ishikawa Photo Exhibition, for circumpolar stars, February 12 - March 30, 2003). I selected about 50 images and mounted them on panels of various sizes to display in the large space. Being the very first time I ever exhibited, this experience marked a starting point for me.
Perhaps because I travel so often to unpopulated mountain areas, people tend to think that I am not good with crowds. I like places with no people, but I actually love crowded, noisy, bustling place like Calcutta and Shinjuku. I feel that the people I pass on the street when I have my camera bring their stories, one after another.
Japanese original text: Naoki Ishikawa
Born in Tokyo in 1977. Completed the Doctor’s Degree Program of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. Driven by his interest in anthropology and ethnology, Ishikawa travels around the world, from remote areas to urban metropolises, while continuing to present his works. He won the Newcomer’s Award from the Photographic Society of Japan and the Kodansha Publication Culture Award for Photography for NEW DIMENSION (AKAAKA Art Publishing, Inc.) and POLAR (Little More Co., Ltd.), and the Domon Ken Award for CORONA (Seidosha). His numerous published books include Saigo no Bokenka(“The Last Adventurer”) (SHUEISHA Inc.), for which he received the Kaiko Takeshi Non-Fiction Award.
2020, Ishikawa received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Photographic Society of Japan for MAREBITO (Shogakukan, Inc.) and EVEREST (CCC Media House Co., Ltd.).