Ihei Kimura


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(1901–74), Japanese photojournalist and adept of the Leica camera (introduced to Japan in 1929). Born and raised in Tokyo, he is considered the photographer to have best captured the city's spirit. He discovered photography while working in Taiwan (1920–2), and in 1924 opened a studio in Nippori, Tokyo. His portrayal of Tokyo began c. 1930. In 1932 he founded the monthly photo magazine Koga with Yasuzo Nojima and Iwata Nakayama to showcase the German-influenced New Photography movement in Japan. He briefly joined Nihon Kobo publishing directed by Yonosuke Natori in 1932, leaving in 1933 to found the group Chuo Kobo with Nobuo Ina and Hiroshi Hara in 1934. During the war he worked as a photojournalist in Manchuria and as head of photography at Toho-sha, publisher of Front magazine. Subsequently he joined Sun News Photos, turning freelance in 1948. First chairman of the Japan Photographers' Society 1950–8, he judged contests for Camera magazine together with Ken Domon in 1952. He admired the Cartier-Bresson photographs that he saw in 1952, and in 1954–5 worked in Paris, London, Helsinki, and Rome. He then left the urban scene and focused on the northern prefecture of Akita, in more than twenty visits in twenty years. His style became more fluid and spontaneous as he unobtrusively recorded his subjects in their daily lives and work. He also portrayed major Japanese writers. In 1975 Asahi Camera magazine inaugurated an annual award in his honour.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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