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Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography
Glimpse Japanese life through the eyes of a renowned photographer
Shoji Ueda considered himself an amateur photographer, even when his work was redefining Japanese photographic art. He received his first camera in 1930, and in the same year he had his work published, a photograph of a child on the beach. His work spanned the pre- and post-war years, reflecting both societal changes and stylistic shifts in the art world. Interestingly, he gave up photography during the war, so he couldn’t be forced to be a photographer for the military. He loved the iconic dunes of Tottori, and they became a motif in his life’s work, as did carefully placing human subjects as surrealist compositional elements in an otherwise realist landscape.
The eponymous museum is as much an homage to Ueda as it is a repository of his work — a strikingly brutal building that brings to mind the severity of a box camera, sitting in nature awaiting the right light for a shot. There is a camera obscura in the museum, continually rendering the changing landscape outside through a 675-kilogram lens. The main exhibition space, designed by Shin Takamatsu, is broken into clusters, creating an interesting effect. Ueda’s collection is well-curated, and the museum is a real joy to visit in Tottori.