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Nobuyoshi Araki

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Nobuyoshi Araki: Journey through life and death

Photographer Nobuyoshi Araki discusses his photobook Sentimental Journey/Winter Journey (1991), which includes pictures of his 1971 honeymoon.

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Nobuyoshi Araki: Journey through life and death

Nobuyoshi Araki—Sentimental Journey/Winter Journey
March 2016

Nobuyoshi Araki: Recently, I have been feeling that my days are numbered. I have many curators and art museum people putting my life’s work together. They ask me, “Among the pictures you took of your wife, which one is your favorite?” That’s none of their business, but being asked that question is actually good for me. When I think about which picture to choose . . . for example, among my wife’s pictures, there’s a picture I spontaneously took of her sitting on the sofa next to me, and that picture is so precious to me. Because to me, things like love are some of the most important factors in a picture, and I was so much in love with my wife, and my love for her was so evident when I shot it, yet she is the only one in the picture.

Sentimental Journey is a photobook of my honeymoon. To live is a journey. My photography is also a journey. And having a camera is sentimental, so it had a double meaning. And I felt like I was at a starting point, ready to live my life. But when it was printed, even at that time, I felt that it wasn’t a journey to happiness, but already a journey to death. I photographed her from when she got sick until her death: a journey to life and a journey to death.

So Sentimental Journey/Winter Journey is a photobook of the two combined. When I look at it now, I see that the two intertwine with each other. The journey to death starts in Sentimental Journey. There’s a picture of her sleeping on a boat on the Yanagawa River. It was our honeymoon, so she was exhausted from all the sex. In Japan we say that you cross the Sanzu River when you depart to the “other world.” I had no intention of taking a picture like that, so I feel that maybe God or someone made me take that picture. Her posture is that of a fetus. Also, in the area where I grew up, we rest the deceased on rush mats. She happened to be sleeping on a rush mat. All by coincidence, it was all there. I felt that to live is something sentimental, and it should be something sentimental. And that continues to this day. That’s why for me, that picture is always unconsciously on my mind.

For me, it all comes down to loneliness, how we are actually all lonely. And I want to continue taking pictures a little longer. I am saying that Sentimental Journey/Winter Journey is my favorite now, but my best photo is yet to come. So I’m hoping to live a little longer, because heaven gave me so much talent when I was born. I haven’t used it up yet, and I want to use it all up. So I’m going to live a little longer.

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