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Eikoh Hosoe: Kamaitachi [Hardcover]

Eikoh Hosoe , Tatsumi Hijikata
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture (12 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159711121X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597111218
  • Product Dimensions: 32.8 x 24.9 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 621,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Eikoh Hosoe: Kamaitachi An undisputed masterwork among Japanese photobooks, Eikoh Hosoe and Tatsumi Hijikata's "Kamaitachi" was originally released in 1969 as a limited edition of 1,000 copies. Hosoe, the renowned photographer, and Hijikata, the founder of ankoku butoh dance, had visited a farming village in northern Japan, where Hijikata improvised a performance inspired by the legend of a weasel-like demon named Kamaitachi. As Hosoe photographed Hijikata's spontaneous interactions with the landscape and with the people they encountered, the two artists together enacted an intense investigation of tradition and an exploration, both personal and symbolic, of contemporary convulsion...

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4.0 out of 5 stars Innovative, ahead of its time 6 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a impulse buy after seeing some of Hosoe's photos in a magazine. Truly innovative and ahead of its time.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Reprint of a Rare/Important/Valuable Book 31 Oct 2008
By ReviewerWhoPrefersToBeAnonymous - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONCERNS THE 2005 EXPENSIVE LIMITED-EDITION OUT-OF-PRINT FACSIMILE WHOSE ISBN-13 IS 9781931788809. I have not handled the quite-different 2009 in-print "affordable trade edition" whose ISBN-13 is 9781597111218.

I have not seen the 1969 original "Kamaitachi" (which was limited to 1000 copies and is held by only about 10 libraries in the U.S.), but it is described in "The Photobook: A History, Vol. 1" by Parr & Badger (2004) and is pictured in "The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present" (2004). Its dramatic photos were a collaboration between dancer Tatsumi Hijikata and photographer Eikoh Hosoe. Per a note inside this edition, "[Hijikata's] performance was inspired by the legend of the Kamaitachi, a weasel-like demon who haunts the rice fields and slashes those who encounter him. ... Hosoe considers the project to be a 'subjective documentary' of both Hijikata as an innovator of butoh dance and of Hosoe's early memories of his evacuation to rural Japan during World War II."

As of 2008, copies of the original (if you can find them) are selling for thousands of dollars. This 2005 reprint (of 500 copies published by Aperture*, ISBN 1-931788-80-4) is a giant accomplishment both literally and figuratively. Including the clamshell box, it's 33 cm wide by 40 cm high and weighs 4 kilograms. Let me review the contents of the book (designed by Ikko Tanaka), then move outward to the cover and clamshell. Each of the book's pages is printed as an individual gatefold that is blue on front and back, but opens to reveal either text or 1 to 3 black-and-white tritone photos on a glorious 58 cm x 37 cm spread. Among the notable spreads are: 7 - Hijikata sitting on a fence. 19 - Children look at an airborne Hijikata with clothes flying, torso and legs exposed. 26 - Hijikata sitting on a tile roof, with a woman standing on the ground below. 27 - Backlit low shot of Hijikata running through a field, with the top part of the frame dark and curving over the lit part.** 33: Hijikata standing, stooped, in front of a rice paddy (?).

The front and back of the silk-screened cloth hardcovers contain an enlarged, high-contrast, artistic rendition of part of gatefold 33 described above. The dust jacket is clear acetate except for the title "KAMAITACHI" in blue on the front. The clamshell was designed especially for the Aperture edition by Yokoo Tadanori and in itself is a work of art. The outside of the clamshell has a montage on the front based on gatefolds 7 and 19, with colorful designs. On the back is a different montage (based on the sky in gatefold 7, and gatefold 27) over which are printed the credits and a couple colorful designs. There is a red "sun" pattern on the spine edge, and a black-and-white checkerboard pattern on the other three edges when the clamshell is closed. The inside of the clamshell has a black-and-white diamond grid pattern and a couple photos (gatefolds 7 and 26) to which Tadanori has added Japanese flags etc. Purchase this wonderful book from Amazon.com!

* As far as I can gather, the 2005 reprint of 500 copies in Japanese published by Seigensha with ISBN 4-86152-035-5 differs mainly in the case. The Seigensha version has a slipcase resembling the original designed by Ikko Tanaka that is white and that has the title on the front in black over a blue "wash."

** Mark Holborn, in his book "Black Sun: the Eyes of Four: Roots and Innovation in Japanese Photography" (New York: Aperture, 1986), gives a nice interpretation of the picture in gatefold 27: "There is a great landscape view, across which a small figure is running as the black sky descends. ... The demon beneath the falling sky is an appropriate image for an eleven-year-old imagination on the run from incendiary bombs."
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another quote from the 2005 version sold on other sites 11 Mar 2010
By Peaceout - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Hosoe, Eikoh (Artist/Photographer); Hijikata, Tatsumi (Subject) & Yokoo, Tadanori (Designer). KAMAITACHI: PHOTOGRAPHS BY EIKOH HOSOE. New York City, NY: Aperture Foundation, 2005. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 132 pages. As New/As New Dust Jacket.

New Edition of the artist/photographer's masterpiece. One of the greatest photography books of the 20th century. Limited Edition of 500 numbered and signed copies. An Import title, the clamshell box of many copies was damaged in transit (the edition that was released in Japan does not come in a box but in a slipcase). An exquisite production by Eikoh Hosoe and Ikko Tanaka: Oversize-volume format. Pictorial cloth boards with blue titles on spine, as issued. Photographs by Eikoh Hosoe. Choreography by Tatsumi Hijikata. Introduction by Shuzo Takiguchi. Poem by Toyoichiro Miyoshi. Magnificent clamshell box design by Tadanori Yokoo. In publisher's original shrinkwrap. Printed on thick uncoated stock paper in Tokyo, Japan to absolutely the highest standards. In pristine glassine DJ with blue titles on the cover, as issued. Re-presents the artist/photographer's classic in the most stupendous production imaginable. "Kamaitachi" was originally published in 1969 in an edition of 1000 copies. It has never before been available outside Japan and has been out-of-print for 40 years. Hosoe finally re-created it in a manner worthy of its legend. "Each of the pages is printed as an individual gatefold, each of which opens to reveal a single, stunning black-and-white image. The exterior of each gatefold is printed in a spectacular azure blue. The effect of opening the book is of stepping into an unknown landscape of theater and baroque sensuality. 'Kamaitachi' was originally published as a singular collaboration between Eikoh Hosoe and the founder of Butoh Dance, Tatsumi Hijikata. In 1965, Hosoe and Hijikata visited a small farming village in Northern Japan. Drawing in the villagers as performers and using the rice fields and rural landscape as a theatrical set for an improvisational Butoh performance, Hosoe photographed Hijikata's spontaneous interactions with the landscape and with the people they encountered. Hosoe has called the project 'a subjective documentary', an investigation of tradition and an exploration both personal and symbolic of the convulsions of Japanese society. It was inspired by the legend of the Kamaitachi, a weasel-like demon who haunts the rice fields and slashes those who encounter him" (Publisher's blurb). Hosoe expanded the boundaries of photography through his collaborations with iconic Japanese artists, the most celebrated being Yukio Mishima, the greatest Japanese novelist of the 20th century, in "Ba Ra Kei". He called "Kamaitachi" a subjective documentary because it is his most personal work, a poignant attempt to recapture the lost landscapes of his wartime childhood in an artistic (rather than melodramatic) way, through Hijikata's choreographic flourish and grace. The book-as-beautiful-object, this is a "must-have" title for Eikoh Hosoe and photography book collectors. This copy is one of the Limited Edition, indicated as such on the Front Limitation Page, and is very prominently and beautifully signed in azure-blue fountain pen by Eikoh Hosoe. Hosoe also stamped it with his red "chop". This title sold out shortly after publication and is now very highly collectible. The clamshell box of many copies was badly damaged in transit, with splits at the edges, bumps, and crushed corners. Copies of the 1969 original now command more than $10000. This is an accessible and dazzling alternative whose value will keep going up. A rare signed copy thus. 40 tritone plates. "Ba Ra Kei" and "Kamaitachi" were selected as two of the greatest photography books in "The Photobook". One of the greatest artist/photographers of the 20th century. ISBN 1931788804. ID-13554.
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