Early in his career, Shōmei Tōmatsu seemed to follow in the tradition of documentary photography. However, by 1960 he had begun to challenge that tradition. In responding to a raging critical debate in the pages of Asahi Camera about the use photography as expression rather than documentation, Tōmatsu insisted, “My photographs are absolutely not photojournalism.” For his first major photographic subject, Tōmatsu focused on Tokyo, where he lived and worked. At first, he had been interested mainly in revealing the city in transformation, as a complex, organic, and mutable system of images and signs. In the latter half of the 1960s, he focused on people in the Shinjuku district of downtown Tokyo: the pedestrians, railway passengers, underground theater performers, and strippers. He also photographed student protestors in the massive and violent protests of October 21, 1969, International Antiwar Day. About eighty of these photographs, shot between 1963 and 1969, constitute his 1969 photobook Oh! Shinjuku, which presents Shinjuku as an assemblage of human desires and power struggles. The photograph here portrays the editor and photographer Takuma Nakahira in a boxing exercise.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Shomei Tomatsu, Japanese, 1930–2012
Protest 1
Oh! Shinjuku
1969, printed 1980
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8 3/8 × 12 5/8 in. (21.3 × 32.1 cm) Sheet: 9 7/8 × 13 7/8 in. (25.1 × 35.2 cm) Frame (outer) (ANW EXHIBITION FRAME): 16 15/16 × 20 15/16 × 1 1/4 in. (43 × 53.2 × 3.2 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the S. I. Morris Photography Endowment and Morris Weiner

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

[Misa Shin Gallery, Tokyo]; purchased by MFAH, 2011.