Ko Ito (1943–2015) was a Japanese photographer who changed his career (and location) in his mid-30s, his work remaining virtually unknown in the Japanese photography world. Japanese publisher Yoshiyuki Morioka came across his work in the summer of 2019, and soon decided to publish Ito’s photographs taken in Ginza in 1964.
1964 was a pivotal year for Japan, with its economy having recovered from the war and the Olympic Games putting the world’s eyes on the nation. The Ginza district in Tokyo, today one of the most expensive quarters in the world dominated by luxury brand shops and high-class restaurants, looks rougher in Ito’s photographs. The early signs of prosperity are visible – in shop windows and people’s clothes and faces – but Ito also captured worn-down buildings, scaffolding, trash and cigarette butts, perhaps as a reminder of who it is that builds the increasing wealth. Yet Ito’s photobook is not quite “social” or documentary photography. Ito’s images reveal an awareness of the historical contradictions that arose before him, but they do so without disregarding the positivity and energy in the city and its people in 1964.
The book includes detailed commentary for each photography as well as an afterword by publisher Yoshiyuki Morioka (both in Japanese only).