Minoru Hirata’s photos in the book “Sentimental Tokyo 1949-1970” (published on occasion of the eponymous exhibition at Taka Ishii Gallery) trace Tokyo’s transition from the post-war period to the rapid economic growth of the 1960s and ’70s. Hirata’s photographs concern themselves primarily with their subjects, capturing social realities “as-is” and confronting them head-on. The earliest photos in the book show people shining the shoes of occupational soldiers in the immediate post-war period; as Japan regains its economic footing, Hirata’s subjects change: wide-eyed children watching street theater performances, avant-garde performance troupes performing, the first skyscrapers being erected in Shinjuku.
“Back then, Tokyo was dirty and dark, scarred by the war’s damages. Yet the people I found there were going about their business on the peaceful streets, with their faces illuminated by their hopeful aspiration for the future. […]
I trained my lens on the people in Tokyo and the ways they lived their lives, which have since faded into a sentimental land of loving memories.”
— from Minoru Hirata’s statement