Daido Moriyama, Japanese Photographer: Poetry through the lens


Daido Moriyama

Born: Osaka, 1938.

Studied: Self-taught.

High point: “It’s always now.” (1)

Low point: “Two years in the late 1970s when I did not carry my camera around.” (1)

Top tip: “Take as many photographs you can: it’s the only way to train your eyes, body and emotions.” (1)

…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. don’t search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far into the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer…

Rainer Maria Rilke (2)

people steadily lose the landscapes they have accumulated. it’s not likely that anyone can faithfully recall how scenes appeared ten or twenty years ago… i think people continue to live in the present because we forget most every little thing. the remembrances that sneak up on a tired soul may sometimes stir us, but there is no tomorrow in that… where in the world did the era beyond my memories and the people who lived in it disappear to? after time, which we can actually only see now in historical documents, there are memories we carry. after our time, what memories will be carried forth by the people who follow?

Daido Moriyama–memories of a stray dog (2)

moriyama’s best work everywhere implies a trauma that must have occurred just outside the limit of our vision, just before we get to the scene, or just beyond the reach of our memory. we feel that what we are getting now is its residual radiation.

Leo Rubinfien writing in art in america (2)

Born in Ikeda, Osaka, Daido Moriyama first trained in graphic design before taking up photography with Takeji Iwaniya, a professional photographer of architecture and crafts. Moving to Tokyo in 1961, he assisted photographer Eikoh Hosoe for three years and became familiar with the trenchant social critiques produced by photographer Shomei Tomatsu. He also drew inspiration from William Klein’s confrontational photographs of New York, Andy Warhol’s silkscreened multiples of newspaper images, and the writings of Jack Kerouac and Yukio Mishima. (3)

“I don’t know how you say ‘nasty’ in English . . . But I want to take a lot of nasty photos. It’s that kind of thing for me.”

Daido Moriyama (4)

“I shoot what I want to shoot, everything is open and there is no process of self-censorship except a little sense of fear because sometimes it gets scary.”

Daido Moriyama (5)

In a career spanning nearly fifty years, Moriyama is best known for his wild, blurred, grainy style of black and white photography, capturing urban experience on the streets of Tokyo and New York. However, there are many sides to his practice and he also works with colour, polaroid, silkscreen and installation, all of which are included in the exhibition at Tate Modern this autumn. (6)

“Characteristic traits are strong black and white contrasts, grainy and unsharp images, unusual angles and compositional croppings. His sources of inspiration in the end of the 1960s and 70s were William Klein’s street photography from New York (with its rough style and fierce graphic language); Andy Warhol’s silk screens of police photographs (grainy structure and photographs of crime scenes, as in the series Accident, 1969); and Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road (the series On the Road, 1972, photographed from car windows).” (7)

“During my stay, I promised myself to go out and take pictures everyday as long as it wasn’t raining. By bus and train, I went here and there in Hokkaido with my camera. Someties I spent the night out of my appartment but I usually dragged myself all the way back, easting bread and drinking whiskyin a cold room”.

Daido Moriyama, on his trip to Hokkaido in 1978

In episode 21 of NY Japan Society’s new series, “Nihon New York”, the photographer Daido Moriyama is presented.

After this short introduction, Japan Society produced the extremely interesting and informative “An Evening with DAIDO MORIYAMA 2011.11.3”


1.The Guardian, Sarah Phillips, Daido Moriyama’s best photograph: my girlfriend’s legs in fishnets

2. The space in between: the philosopher and the trickster: daido moriyama and nobuyoshi araki

3. LACMA: Fracture Daido Moriyama 

4. LACMA, Unframed: Daido Moriyama: “It’s That Kind of Thing For Me”

5. Paper Sky, Perspective Reach II: Daido Moriyama

6. Tate Modern, London: Klein and Moriyama Exhibition

7. Galleri Susanne Ottesen: Daido Moriyama, The World through My Eyes


  1. εξαιρετικό αυτό το αφιέρωμα…

    Τον Moriyama ούτε τον ήξερα…

    παρα πολύ καλός
    ναι σκέτη ποίηση

    • Τελικα σε ο,τι αφορα την τεχνη, ειτε σου αρεσει ειτε δεν σου αρεσει. Απο εκει ξεκινανε ολα. Συνηθως δε οι λεξεις δεν μπορουν να αποδωσουν το γιατι. Εμενα ο Μοριγιαμα με εκανε να ταξιδεψω και να εμφυτευθω εις τον νου και την ψυχη των ανθρωπων που αποθανατιζει με τον φακο του. Δεν ειναι δε τυχαιο το ρημα “απο-θανατιζω”. Θεμα – ισως – για μελλοντικο αρθρο.

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