Edited by Sandra S. Phillips

About This Publication

Centered on SFMOMA’s large, diverse collection of Japanese photography from the postwar years to the present, this publication examines the development of the country’s distinctive and innovative photographic culture through the work of key practitioners of the last six decades. Biographical overviews, artist talks, video interviews, and additional resources provide insight into this tumultuous but artistically fertile period, spanning Allied occupation and the escalation of American troops in Japan during the Vietnam War, the country’s spectacular economic growth and subsequent crash in the 1980s, the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and on.

Like the collection, this project is by no means static; it will continue to grow as research continues. It launches with a spotlight on five photographers and will expand to incorporate additional writings and source materials — many new or never before published — over time.

Generous support for this publication is provided by NIKON. Additional support is provided by The Ray Evans and Wyn Ritchie Evans Foundation and Glen S. and Sakie T. Fukushima.

The Bernard Osher Foundation

For more than 100 years, Nikon has pursued new and innovative imaging technology to better our everyday lives, create more beautiful art, and solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges. We are proud to support SFMOMA’s Focus on Japanese Photography, which brings the important work and stories of these influential photographers to the world.

Header image: Naoya Hatakeyama, Blast #13018, 2006 (detail); chromogenic print, 39 3/16 x 59 1/16 in. (99.5 x 150 cm); collection SFMOMA, gift of the Kurenboh Collection; © Naoya Hatakeyama

Focus on Japanese Photography title page

A Note on Contents

Focus on Japanese Photography centers on the work of artists whose practice has been key to the evolution of photography in Japan since the 1960s and whose photographs are represented in depth in SFMOMA’s permanent collection.

This landing page serves as the hub of the publication. From here, you can link to pages devoted to the featured artists. On each artist page, you will find:

  • a biographical overview
  • a portfolio of selected works by the artist in the museum’s collection
  • links to selected SFMOMA exhibitions in which the artist’s work has appeared

Selected exhibitions include presentations from 1997 on—the span of the online exhibition archive—and do not include permanent collection rotations.

The artist pages also include links to the following materials where available:

  • video interviews with the artist
  • supplementary related texts, including artist talks and interpretive essays
  • readable and searchable PDFs of related SFMOMA publications

You can also access these additional resources directly from this landing page.

Focus on Japanese Photography launched in October 2017. Artwork information reflects the most recent research undertaken by SFMOMA staff and will be updated as collection research continues.


Many of the pages in this publication include a citation tool that will generate the preferred citation for a selected passage of text. To activate the tool, highlight the area you would like to cite and click the “Create Citation” button that will appear along the right side of the pages. If you wish to cite the full essay or talk, see the citation provided at the bottom of the text.

Citations for biographical overviews should include the following components: Author’s name, “Artist’s name,” Focus on Japanese Photography, October 2017. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, URL.

Example: Sandra S. Phillips, “Miyako Ishiuchi,” Focus on Japanese Photography, October 2017. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, https://www.sfmoma.org/artist/Miyako_Ishiuchi.

Citations for video interviews should include the following components: “Video Title” (video interview, date), Focus on Japanese Photography, October 2017. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, URL.

Example: “Naoya Hatakeyama on what’s awe-some” (video interview, August 2012), Focus on Japanese Photography, October 2017. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, https://www.sfmoma.org/artist/Naoya_Hatakeyama#watch.


Matthew Kluk is curatorial assistant, photography, at SFMOMA.

Sandra S. Phillips is curator emerita of photography at SFMOMA.