Woman with artificial flowers. Aoshima, Miyazaki, 1973
© Hiromi Tsuchida courtesy Studio Equis
Silver Gelatin Print
Born in Fukui Prefecture in 1939 Tsuchida studied engineering before enrolling in the Tokyo College of Photography in 1965 where he was later to return as a professor. He began his career as a publicity photographer for a cosmetics company but quickly decided to become a freelance photographer in 1971. Tsuchida began to receive recognition for his work early in his career and was included in the 1974 exhibition New Japanese Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Zokushin, Tsuchida's first publication and perhaps his best-known work, was taken during the early 1970s. Tsuchida travelled through rural areas across Japan to photograph people in their daily lives. He use the term Zokushin, which translates as 'Gods on Earth', to refer to people who live simply, spontaneously, little concerned with what others think or how they themselves look or dress - the 'ordinary' people of Japan. The series explores their relationship with traditional festivals, rituals and particularly with spirituality and religion.
Tsuchida further developed his study of the Japanese people with his series 'Counting Grains of Sand' which he began in the second half of the 1970s. The series explores how the Japanese people interact and function in a crowd, with each person a 'grain of sand'. Tsuchida decided to stop working on the series in 1989, when the 'crowd to end all crowds' came to mourn the death of Emperor Hirohito. However, during the 1990s he began work on the series again as he was struck by the shifting dynamic of the crowd in the today's Japan. Crowds were no longer seas of people but had become a network of small groups that maintained a certain distance from each other.
The bombing of Hiroshima has played a central part in much of Tsuchida's work and he as continued to revisit this subject in his work for over 30 years. Over the course of several books and exhibitions, Tsuchida has examined the social stigmatism suffered by the atomic bomb survivors and the lasting impact the bombings have had on Japanese society.
Tsuchida's work has featured in exhibitions around the world including 'Japan: a Self-portrait at the international Center of Photography in New York (1979), Photography Now at the The Victoria & Albert Museum (1989) and Japan 1945-1975: Un renouveau photographique at the Patrimonie Photographique, Hotel de Sully in Paris (2003). Tsuchida lives and works in Tokyo.