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Old 10-13-2008   #1
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Araki Nobuyoshi

Araki studied photography during his college years and then went to work at the advertising agency Dentsu, where he met his future wife, the essayist Yōko Araki (荒木陽子, Araki Yōko?). After they were married, Araki published a book of pictures of his wife taken during their honeymoon titled Sentimental Journey. She later died in 1990. Pictures taken during her last days were published in a book titled Winter Journey.

Having published over 350 books (and still more every year) Araki is considered one of the most prolific artists alive or dead in Japan and around the world. Many of his photographs are erotic; some have been called pornographic. Some of his most popular photography books are Sentimental Journey, Tokyo Lucky Hole, and Shino. He also contributed photography to the Sunrise anime series Brain Powerd.

The Icelandic musician Bjrk is an admirer of Araki's work, and served as one of his models. At her request he photographed the cover and inner sleeve pages of her 1997 remix album, Telegram.

Araki's life and work were the subject of Travis Klose's 2005 documentary film Arakimentari.


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When Arakis wife died in 1991 he decided to publish photos of her in Sentimental Journey / Winter Journey. The series includes pictures of their ten-year long marriage, during which time she was always his preferred model - from their honeymoon to her sick bed and death.

Araki once stated about these photos:

After Yokos death I wanted to photograph nothing but life. However, each time I pressed the trigger, I closed on death, for if you photograph, then you stop time. I want to tell you one thing, and listen well: Photography is murder.

Arakis nudes - despite their immanent directness and modern fragility - follow the tradition of the series of erotic wood-cuts of the Edo period (1615-1868) by Ukio-e and Utamaro (ArtLex article on Edo period). Araki himself reports:

Basically, I have never been interested in tying up the body of a model. What I was aiming at was the female heart. That was what I wanted to lay in chains. In the course of time, if I can put it this way, the models have tied themselves up, have bound themselves to me I work using my entire bodily presence, I reproduce in my photos the space and the time between my models and myself The camera is a kind of seismograph here.

Arakis photos are mass produced, published in the form of pictorial series in magazines or photo monographs, reaching an audience of millions. His work paints, like no other artistic form of expression, a picture of contemporary Japanese society and urban life in Tokyo.


Short biography

1940 Born in Minowa, Japan

1959 - 63 Studies photography at Chiba University, Tokyo

1964 First 16 mm film project

1963 - 72 Working for Dentsu ad agency

Published Work (selection):

1973 Tokyo
1977 Tokyo Blues
1984 Tokyo Autumn
1987 Diary Tokyo
1989 Tokyo Story
1989 Tokyo Nude
1991 Winter Journey
1992 Nude-Tokyo
1993 Love You Tokyo
1995 Tokyo Novella

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 04-11-2017   #2
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Re: Araki Nobuyoshi

Some of my favorites:

Untitled (Watermelon), 1991

Untitled (Portrait of the Artist's Wife), 1990

Untitled (Tokyo Cube)
, 1993


Picture of his cat Chiro

"Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are. In other words, how do you fill out an empty life? With women, books, or worldly ambitions? No matter what you do, the starting point is boredom, and the end self-destruction. The emblem of our fate: the sky teeming with worms. Baudelaire taught me that life is the ecstasy of worms in the sun, and happiness the dance of worms."
---Tears and Saints, E. M. Cioran
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araki, nobuyoshi

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