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Photobooks dedicated to Gunkanjima: Random Personal Memories or Strategical Publications?

Livres de photographie dédiés à Gunkanjima : entre mémoire et stratégie
Cecile Laly

Résumés

Cet article analyse les livres de photographie produits par plusieurs photographes japonais et français qui sont dédiés à l’île minière d’Hashima, aujourd’hui mieux connue sous le surnom de Gunkanjima (l’île cuirassée). Ces livres ont été publiés principalement dans le courant des deux dernières décennies lorsque le Japon entama un projet de classement à l’UNESCO d’une liste des « Sites de la révolution industrielle Meiji au Japon : sidérurgie, construction navale et extraction houillère », incluant vingt-trois composantes, dont Hashima. Cet article explique comment les livres de photographie décrivent l’île à partir des années 1950 : pendant la période de forte croissance, à la fermeture de la mine, et pendant la période d’abandon et de décomposition qui s’en suivit. Il met ensuite en évidence comment dans un contexte de patrimoine contesté, le récit de ces livres de photographie construit une image positive de l’île afin d’en faire un lieu qui mérite d’être inscrit au patrimoine mondial, mais aussi comment par leur simple existence ces livres de photographie font entrer l’île minière d’Hashima dans l’héritage artistique du Japon en tant que muse iconique.

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Introduction

  • 1 From “urban exploration”: a movement that started in the 1980s involving clandestine exploration of (...)
  • 2 Apart from photobooks that are the focus of this paper, DVDs with documentary movies and CDs of mus (...)

1Hashima, which is better known under its nickname, Gunkanjima (Battleship Island), is a small mining island, floating nineteen kilometers southwest of the city of Nagasaki, Japan. Built in the nineteenth century, it was inhabited solely for mining activities before being abandoned in 1974, when the mines closed. Due to its particular location at the time of its closure, no spatial restructuring or living environment improvements were required; nor did it face any of the other immediate urban issues that touched inland mining areas. The physical structures and the remains of daily life were left abandoned, out of sight and out of reach, in the middle of the sea. Difficulties accessing the island due to currents and depending on the weather left it mainly forsaken throughout the rest of the 1970s, rapidly decaying as a result of a mix of hard winds and strong saltwater waves. The emergence of urbex1 in the 1980s however, which would later grow into a trend, became one of the influences that led some adventurous photographers to make their way to this inhospitable rock with the help of local fishermen. With the turn of the century, the idea arose to develop tourism on the island. Concurrently, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a project to put in a bid for Unesco World Heritage inscription also occurred, and various Gunkanjima related cultural and artistic activities and productions flourished under the leadership of both previous inhabitants as well as outsiders. These people took interest in the island for numerous reasons, varying from a connection to childhood memories or acquaintances, coincidence, curiosity, or simply the opportunity to be associated with a popular matter. Among such productions were photobooks2.

  • 3 This paper follows the research and documentation work done by the author for the Dictionnaire hist (...)
  • 4 Nathalie Boulouch in her review of The photobooks by Badger and Parr (Critique d’art, no 27, spring (...)

2Those who have an interest in photobooks featuring architecture in Japan will quickly notice that some places attract more photographers than others, Gunkanjima being one of them3. Most of the photobooks focusing solely on this island are works by Japanese photographers. “Photobooks” in Japanese are called shashin-shū, the meaning of which is generic, encompassing photo albums, heavily illustrated magazines or books, in addition to photobooks by photographers. This paper focuses on the latter, that is photobooks published by photographers, in their name, and therefore considered their statements as social beings at a given time. Moreover, as Nathalie Boulouch put it, this statement is “articulated by a visual intelligence, which proposes the narrative exploration of a theme4”.

3This paper will therefore first examine how the photobooks pictorialize the island since the 1950s: throughout the period of Japan’s high growth, at the time of the mine’s closure, and during the period of decay that followed. It will then show that the large number of photobooks published and the angles through which the island is presented in these publications is directly linked to the Unesco bid. In fact, while the current literature on Gunkanjima either draws on the history of the island and the mines, questions whether Gunkanjima should or should not be registered as a cultural property, or considers issues stemming from tourism, this paper intends to look at it from a different perspective to highlight how, in a context of dissonant heritage, photobooks helped to build a positive image of the island in order to make it a place worth being inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

What is Gunkanjima? A Brief Historical Reminder

  • 5 For a chronology of mining on Hashima during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, se (...)

4Gunkanjima is a small island on which coal was discovered in 1810. At the time of the discovery, it was more of a protruding rock than an island, and was only known under the name of Hashima. Mining began about sixty years later5, followed by inhabitation in 1887 after its first vertical-shaft mine was dug. At the time, miners lived in wooden dormitories which were regularly destroyed by typhoons. A second vertical-shaft mine followed in 1893, a third in 1894 and the fourth and last vertical-shaft mine was dug in 1923. Hashima was purchased by Mitsubishi Company in 1890, making it what many people now call Gunkanjima. Between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, following the Sino-Japanese war (1894-1995) and the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905), the need for coal increased and production therefore intensified. As a consequence, Mitsubishi engaged in the development of the island: the slags from the mines were used to level the ground and to enlarge its surface. Large protective seawalls were also built around the island to secure the area. Upon completion of this construction work, Hashima remained small, measuring a mere 480 meters long and 160 meters wide despite the area of the island growing three times its original size.

  • 6 For a history of the construction of the island and its buildings, see Dōtoku Sakamoto, Takayuki Ko (...)
  • 7 The resemblance to a battle ship was noticed as soon as building 30 was erected, but the nickname s (...)

5At the beginning of the twentieth century, the mining economy flourished and the island’s population continued to grow. Mitsubishi therefore engaged in the construction of pioneering concrete housing for its employees. In 1916, the company built the first large set of apartments that now correspond to buildings 30 and 31 of the current plan. From there, more and more multi-story concrete buildings arose from the artificial land. It could therefore be said that, after having been stretched out, the living space was now being stretched up6, changing the silhouette of the island. From a distance, the island resembled a warship, with its seawalls, buildings and chimneys. As a result, the island of Hashima adopted the nickname Gunkanjima in the 1920s, which means Battleship Island7.

  • 8 The tentative list of “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding a (...)
  • 9 Introduction by Tze M. Loo from the translation of the article written by Takazane Yasunori and ent (...)

6Between the mid-1920s and 1945, an increasing number of young Koreans and Chinese were sent to Gunkanjima for forced labor, which was loosely disguised, although less and less over time. During the Second World War, some of these forced laborers died on the island, due to poor working and living conditions. After the war, mining continued to grow until the 1960s, when oil began to replace coal as an energy source, causing activity to drop as seen in other mines of the Kyushu area. Gunkanjima was finally closed in 1974 and remained abandoned for several decades until being reawakened in 2001, when Mitsubishi donated it to the city of Nagasaki. In 2004, the Association for Gunkanjima World Heritage (gunkanjima o sekai-isan ni suru kai) was created. At the same time, a Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization under the Japanese Imperialism Republic of Korea (nittei kyōsenka kyōsei dōin higai shinsō kyūmei iinkai) was created by the National Assembly of South Korea, in memory of their compatriots sent to Japan – some of whom ended up on the island. On the Japanese side, however, proceedings for the Unesco World Heritage application began8. In 2009, the island officially reopened to tourism. Although not without difficulties9, it was finally registered as a World Heritage Site representative of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution heritage in Kyushu by the World Heritage Committee on July 5, 2015. At the time of the decision, South Korea and Japan appeared to have found an agreement over the Gunkanjima case, but the controversy between the two countries started again soon after its inscription, peaking at the time of the worldwide release of a movie entitled Battleship Island (2017), by South Korean Director Ryoo Seung-wan. The Japanese responded to this with the launch of the website The Truth of Gunkanjima by the National Congress of Industrial Heritage (sangyō isan kokumin kaigi) in December 2017, among other things.

Photobooks on Gunkanjima: The Island since the 1950s

7During the twentieth century, this island offered an unusual way of living, as the subject of experimental concrete architecture prior to WWII, and afterwards rapidly granting its inhabitants with modern home appliances, such as electric fans and, of course, the three modern treasures: televisions, washing machines and refrigerators. Workers were also known to have considerably high salaries. The density of the population living on the small island broke records. As a result of its peculiarity, it has always piqued interest amongst people and in the media. Subsequently, images of Gunkanjima have been regularly published in newspapers, magazines and reviews throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. What stands out, however, is that during the contemporary period, it has also been the exclusive subject of several photobooks. Indeed, no less than eleven Japanese photographers and a pair of French photographers published photobooks entirely dedicated to Gunkanjima. In alphabetical order, the Japanese photographers are Sanpei Henmi (1956-), Takuo Iwasaki (1970-), Shin.ichirō Kobayashi (1956-), Taiji Matsue (1963-), Junzō Matsuo (1949-), Takashi Minagawa (1938-), Hiroshi Ōhashi (1946-), Yūji Saiga (1951-), Tōru Sakai (1960-), Masatsugu Takahashi (1947-) and Shōji Takushima (1947-). The French photographers are Yves Marchand (1981-) and Romain Meffre (1987-).

8Their photobooks present photographs of the island taken between the 1950s and the 2010s, in some of which the images are accompanied by texts. Put together, these publications offer an illustration of the life on and of Gunkanjima over the last seven decades.

From left to right: Yūji Saiga, Tsuki no michi – Borderland; Shin.ichirō Kobayashi, No Man’s Land, Gunkanjima; Yūji Saiga, Gunkanjima: Awakening of a Dead Island; Hiroshi Ōhashi, 1972, Seishun, Gunkanjima (1972: My youth on Gunkanjima); Takashi Minagawa, Ano koro no gunkanjima, ima mo hitobito no koe ga kikoeru (Gunkanjima of those days. I can still hear the voices of the ancient inhabitants); Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre, Gunkanjima.

Before 1974: the Inhabitant Photographers and the Great Gunkanjima Family

Photographs Taken in the 1950s

  • 10 The title of this photobook was translated into English by the author. See table 1 to know in which (...)
  • 11 Concerning the photobooks featuring photographs of Gunkanjima in the 1950s, Ikkō Narahara’s Human L (...)
  • 12 “One day, I got a chance to meet a student who visited the island and we talked about photography. (...)

9Among the photobooks entirely dedicated to Gunkanjima, the one that features the oldest photographs is entitled Gunkanjima of those days. I can still hear the voices of the ancient inhabitants10 (2013). This photobook shows the island in the 1950s11, during the period in which the exploitation of the mine was at its peak. These photographs were taken by Takashi Minagawa, who moved to his uncle’s home on Gunkanjima in 1949, at the age of eleven. Minagawa himself worked there from 1958 to 1965 and lived a total of sixteen years on the island. Among the photographers who are discussed in this paper, Minagawa was the only one with no professional training nor a career as a photographer, rather working as a miner. Nonetheless, in the photobook, his status as a photographer is illustrated through a biography at the end of the book, as is usually done at the end of artists’ photobooks. It includes a precise description of the beginning of Minagawa’s interest in photography when he was in middle school, along with a photographic depiction of Minagawa with a camera in his hands. Furthermore, in the short afterword, he wrote about having the opportunity to meet Ikkō Narahara when he visited Gunkanjima in 1954, describing how they naturally talked about photography12. The publication of Minagawa was therefore edited as a photobook dedicated to Gunkanjima and not as a book on Gunkanjima with photographical illustrations.

  • 13 5259 inhabitants, a density of 835 inhabitants per hectare.
  • 14 Minagawa, “Afterword”, p. 90.
  • 15 Thirty-seven photographs out of eighty-two.
  • 16 This explanation is given by Minagawa himself in the “Afterword”, p. 90. Moreover, the rather low p (...)

10Although Minagawa did not have any professional training, he mastered photographic techniques and was able to produce thoughtful and interesting compositions. Starting in his first year of middle-school, he became an avid reader of the Asahi Camera magazine. In his photobook, eighty-two black and white documentary photographs are reproduced, about half of which are captioned with short legends that provide today’s readers with information about the lifestyle on the island in the 1950s, when the population of Gunkanjima reached its peak13. It illustrates the characteristics of life on the island, such as food delivery by boat, or how inhabitants faced typhoons and fires. It also shows the daily lives of miners, as well as women and children on the surface of the island. Although “the subject of [his] photographs is the life of the five thousand people living on the island14”, when taking a closer look, we realize that more than half of the plates15 feature young people, especially children. Most of the time, they are captured playing, smiling and laughing, surrounded by an environment built of concrete. According to his own words, when Minagawa began to live on Gunkanjima, he was separated from his brothers and sisters who remained with their sick father, compensating for their absence by spending time with the other children who were living on the island16. For this reason, the photobook also emphasized the perception of the population of Gunkanjima as a tight-knit community, and how Gunkanjima’s inhabitants became Minagawa’s adoptive family.

Photographs Taken in the Early 1970s

11In the early 1970s, three young photographers, Hiroshi Ōhashi, Masatsugu Takahashi, and Hiroshi Horikawa – friends and recent graduates, actively working as freelance photographers in Tokyo –, came to Gunkanjima and worked on the island for a few months starting in Autumn of 1972. While living on the island, they stayed in rooms located on the ground floor of building 30, one of the two oldest concrete buildings on the island (and in Japan), working as day laborers for a subcontracting company. Their tasks included unloading and preparing the equipment brought to the island by boat to be used in the mines, such as heavy wooden timbers, cement bags, oxygen tanks, and dynamite. They therefore stayed on the surface of the island, never descending into the mines.

  • 17 Ōhashi confirms this view by writing: “Those are private photographs; even though this was a mining (...)

12Two of these photographers went on to publish photobooks sharing their experiences on Gunkanjima, both of whom took black and white documentary photographs, displaying their apartments and the building where they resided, the wharf and crane where they worked, as well as their neighbors and colleagues. They also photographed each other, sometimes with cameras in hand. Looking at these images, we realize that, for these photographers living on the island as Minagawa did about twenty years earlier, the goal was not to create a report on Gunkanjima as a mining island, but rather to record the setting of their daily lives17.

  • 18 Some of the photographs by Takahashi along with a shorter text in English can be found on his site (...)

13One of the particularities of Ōhashi and Takahashi’s photobooks is that their photographs are accompanied by texts. While Ōhashi’s 1972: My Youth in Gunkangima (2006) contains nineteen short texts, found between the seventy-one black and white plates, Takahashi added a longer text at the end of the plates in his photobook, Ephemeral Dreams. Building 30 on Battleship Island~1972+2014 (2014)18. These texts explain the reasons why these photographers came to live on Gunkanjima: they ran out of money after staying in Nagasaki and Kita-Kyushu and were in need of an odd job. They describe their daily activities, such as the first time they controlled the crane and lifted a 2 m long by 40 cm in diameter wooden timber on their own. They also depict what astonished them in that particular environment, such as the surprising and unpredictable love stories between married women in their thirties and young men, and the unpleasant use of shared toilets in building 30 during winter time. Their compelling texts make their photobooks not only didactic but also entertaining, and with the use of humor they give a somewhat positive image of the harsh life on the island.

  • 19 Takahashi went back to Gunkanjima in 2014 and shot new photographs that he also published in his ph (...)

14In Takahashi’s photobook, the first plate of the photographs taken in the 1970s19 is a very typical presentation of life on Gunkanjima during its period of activity after the war: it is a group photograph featuring his two photographer friends and their coworkers, with the legend “one island, one family”, a play on words in reference to the proverb “one mountain, one family” (issan ikka). In addition, in the text I lived in building 30, written only in Japanese, he wrote, “as the island was small, everyone had the feeling of living in a big family”, and in the afterword, published both in Japanese and in English, he added again, “we lived like one big family”. Even if the photographs taken by Minagawa, Ōhashi and Takahashi did not focus on the same people – those from the 1950s primarily depicting children playing and women handling food in the morning market, while those from the 1970s display, more particularly, the built environment and the workers of the subcontracting company – together they illustrate a daily life from which two characteristics seem to emerge. On the one hand, an understanding that the physical conditions of people’s work and daily lives were rough but not questioned, and on the other hand, that the intense human warmth emanating from the inhabitants made them part of one big family, which seemed to minimize the harshness of life on the island. The photobooks of these inhabitant-photographers thus display a generally positive image of life on Gunkanjima.

January-April 1974: Shooting the Closing of the Island

  • 20 Takahashi also went back to Gunkanjima in 1974 after he heard of the closure on the national news; (...)

15Just as it happened at other mines, activity on Gunkanjima came to an end. The closure of the mine, and therefore of the island, was officially announced on national news. Aware that this symbolic event illustrated a major socio-economic change, two photographers visited the island and later made photobooks: Yūji Saiga and Shōji Takushima20. The context in which they took their photographs was quite different from the previously mentioned photobooks. In the case of Saiga and Takushima, the photographers were not part of the “big Gunkanjima family”, as they were visitors. Their photographs were therefore not aimed at illustrating their private lives on the island, but to create a testament of what was happening. Saiga heard of the closure while travelling in the area, arriving on the island as soon as January 10, 1974. He then continued to visit the island several times until April 20. Takushima, on the other hand, was in Tokyo and organized his visit for March 1974. As coal extraction had already ceased by December 1973, most of the miners were already gone by the time they arrived on the island. Takushima, who was late in visiting Gunkanjima, wrote,

  • 21 Furusato in Japanese can mean “hometown”, but it also includes a wider meaning of “a feeling of nos (...)
  • 22 Exhibition of the Photographs of Takushima Shōji: Gunkanjima 1974 – When People Abandoned the Islan (...)

At that time, I was enrolled at the Tokyo College of Photography. I visited the island in March, 1974, in order to record Gunkanjima, my furusato21, and the people living there. It was one month before it became a deserted island. When I arrived on the island, there were few young adults because they had already moved and changed jobs, the elderly were cleaning up and the kids were innocently running around making their last memories22.

16The photobook of Shōji Takushima is actually the catalog of the exhibition that took place at the Japan Camera Industry Institute in Tokyo. The format and the layout of the pages of the photobook are thus standard. It presents eighty-eight photographs that were taken in March, 1974, all of which are black and white documentary photographs, most including a legend indicating the location on the island. The narration of the photobook is a clear illustration of what happened in the first months of 1974: it first shows the deserted infrastructure at the entrance of the mine, then the apartments no longer filled of people, followed by shots of the streets in which he tried to include at least one person. The last part is dedicated to the dock, a place full of people leaving and saying their goodbyes, about to depart on the boat.

  • 23 The official closure ceremony took place on January 15, 1974.
  • 24 These two books are very close, because the one from 2003 is an augmented and slightly modified rep (...)
  • 25 A selection of his photographs from the 1980s can be seen on his site in the gallery “Gunkanjima – (...)
  • 26 There are twenty photographs reproduced in the 1986 photobook and twenty-eight in the 2003 photoboo (...)

17Yūji Saiga visited the island several times during the four months between the closure of the mine23 and the closure of the island on April twentieth. He then published two photobooks24 entitled Gunkanjima: Views of an Abandoned Island (1986) and Gunkanjima: Awakening of a Dead Island (2003), both of which have the particularity of aligning the plates of the photographs taken in July 198425 with a long text entitled Memories of Gunkanjima, referring to the closing period in early 1974. This text is composed like a diary, organized by dates that run from Thursday, January 10, to Saturday, April 20. Through Saiga’s daily activities and encounters, it describes the infrastructure and the physicality of Gunkanjima, tells historical episodes about the island, and depicts the lives of the people he met during this particular period. In addition to this multifaceted presentation, the text is also punctuated by a countdown of the number of inhabitants – registered workers and enrolled children –, which dramatized the abandonment of the island. Along with this lengthy text, Saiga reproduced a few photographs26 in vignette format, which date from 1974. These images are quite close to what others have taken, such as the previously mentioned Takushima; that is, black and white documentary photographs that feature the mainly empty infrastructure, kids playing and making funny faces, and people nearing the end of their preparation for departure.

  • 27 This was a deliberate choice. In the entry from the 1st of March of his diary-like text, Saiga rela (...)

18With the photobooks published by these two photographers who visited Gunkanjima in 1974, the specific period of Gunkanjima’s last month of existence as a mining island is also covered, showing the ways in which Japanese laborers were treated, and how they were forced to abandon the island and their homes. To get a better understanding of what the images really show, however, it is necessary to read the accompanying texts, which are only published in Japanese. Consequently, non-Japanese viewers can only rely on the photographs, which convey a feeling of abandonment, yet do not emphasize pathos.27

After 1974: Documentation of the Island’s Decay and the Development of a Gunkanjima Photos Mannerism

  • 28 Sanpei Henmi, “Gunkanjima Today (gunkanjima no genzai)”, in Sanpei Henmi, Hang in there, Gunkanjima (...)
  • 29 The photographs taken in the mid-1980s show that Gunkanjima was already suffering from severe deter (...)

19The island was closed after being abandoned by its last inhabitants on the twentieth of April, 1974. An official ban was even issued in August 1994, to prevent reckless visitors and vandalism28. It then remained a no man’s land until 2009, when it eventually reopened for touristic purposes. Nevertheless, several photographers visited Gunkanjima to photograph the deserted island and its ruins, five of which landed on the island during the two decades between its closure and the ban: Yūji Saiga, Takuo Iwasaki, Shin.ichirō Kobayashi, Sanpei Henmi, and Taiji Matsue. Tōru Sakai shot photos of the island after its reopening. French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre shot their images right before and right after the reopening. It could be said that, thanks to the photobooks published by these photographers, there exists an illustration of the deterioration of the place since its abandonment29. Indeed, the photographs of Matsue date from 1983; those of Saiga date from 1984-86, those of Henmi were taken between 1990 and 1999; those of Iwasaki were taken in the Spring of 1994; those of Kobayashi date from 2003; those of Marchand and Meffre were shot in 2008 and 2012; and those of Sakai were shot in 2014.

  • 30 A selection of the photographs published in this book can be seen on the photographer’s site in the (...)
  • 31 Twenty-two of the photographs from this publication are visible on the site of the photographer in (...)

20Their images mainly focus on the crumbling architecture and the abandoned objects. Nevertheless, even if the photographed matter is the same, these photobooks present the island through various aesthetics. For example, in No Man’s Land Gunkanjima (2004)30, Kobayashi offers a number of square images with a frontal point of view, recording the architecture directly through the bright light of a sunny day. On the contrary, in The Future Century: Gunkan-jima (2014), Sakai presents images with full page reproductions shot on a stormy day. As a consequence, the pictures offer a more dramatic use of light, making them dark, and for some, even mysterious. In Tsuki no michi-Borderland (1993)31, Saiga focused only on the seawall, which he photographed with the moon as the sole source of light. This time, the use of the light confers a mystical approach to the architectural elements.

21In addition, when we look at the photographs published in each of the photobooks featuring the island after its closure, we cannot ignore that the photographers often shot the same abandoned objects. It could be argued that the choice of accessible objects and buildings was limited; after all, it is a small island. It could also be said that the desire to photograph objects such as televisions, refrigerators and electric fans can be understood by the fact that these objects are filled with an aura of modernity, both positive and negative, which is even more peculiar in Gunkanjima. They did not, however, simply shoot the same objects, sometimes going so far as to copy compositions of the images made by their predecessors, such as the shot of the broken TV first taken by Kobayashi, then by Marchand & Meffre, and later by Sakai, with nearly identical compositions. These reutilizations are beyond the symbolism of the objects themselves; rather, a mannerism of “abandoned Gunkanjima” photographs developed and raised the island to the rank of a muse, thus giving it entry into the artistic and cultural heritage of Japan as a visual icon.

The Shooting Dates of Photographs and the Publication Dates of Photobooks

22Having completed the presentation of what is shown in the photobooks, a look at their publication dates is now necessary. The photobook of Minagawa, which portrays Gunkanjima in the 1950s as a big family, was first published in 2013. Ōhashi’s photobook, which also gives a positive view of the island in the early 1970s, was first published in 2006 and was re-edited in 2010. His friend Takahashi’s photobook was published in 2014. The photobook of Takushima, which is a testament to the situation a month before the island’s closure in 1974, was published for the fortieth anniversary of the closure in April 2014. The photobook of Matsue, which features the island in the 1980s, was published in 2017. The photobook of Henmi, which shows the ruins in the 1990s and encourages the island and its previous inhabitants to “hang in there”, was published in 2005. The photobook of Iwasaki, which features the island in 1994, was published in 2015. In fact, among the fourteen photobooks researched for this paper, twelve were published after the turn of century, or in other words, after the property of Gunkanjima was transferred from the Mitsubishi Company to Nagasaki city. Among these twelve photobooks, one was a re-edition by Saiga in 2003 of his 1986 publication, and the eleven others were published for the first time after the foundation of the Association for Gunkanjima World Heritage (2004).

  • 32 Michiko Kasahara, “Strange Things”, in Yūji Saiga, Gunkanjima: Awakening of a Dead Island, p. 98-99 (...)
  • 33 Dōtoku Sakamoto lived on the island and was part of the foundation of the Association for Gunkanjim (...)

23In 2003, in the re-edition of Saiga’s photobook, Michiko Kasahara, curator at the city of Tokyo’s photo museum, wrote that, with his photographs, the island of Gunkanjima had been transformed into an art museum as a whole32. She was pointing to the fact that, by being sealed shut, the abandoned “things” – including the island – transformed themselves, recalling the ways in which museums are sometimes called “graveyards” or “places filled with remains”. Even if she is not referring to the Unesco World Heritage bid directly, this metaphor could be interpreted as the first sign of the desire to patrimonialize the island as a whole. In the twenty-first century, Japanese people have developed individual actions to support the preservation and the inscription of the island through various means of expression specific to each group or person. For example, the foundation and the activities of the Association for Gunkanjima World Heritage are mainly based on the participation of former inhabitants, such as Dōtoku Sakamoto33, gathering old documentation and photographs of their lives on the island. For the photographers, their own individual actions are the publication of photobooks.

24In four of the photobooks published between the time of the establishment of the Association for Gunkanjima World Heritage and the inscription of the island, the texts that go along with the photographs clearly mention the process of presenting Gunkanjima as a World Heritage Site. In 2005, Henmi wrote:

  • 34 Sanpei Henmi, “Gunkanjima today”, p. 63.

In order to solve this problem [the island’s deterioration and the cost of its repairs], using “Gunkanjima” as a tourist resource has been envisaged for many years. If it becomes a source of revenue for the municipality that owns it, it would be possible to perform the appropriate repairs. […] Rather than “ruins”, Hashima, also known as “Gunkanjima”, is a first-class industrial heritage which allows the understanding of the life of the coal mining town; it is also a valuable material in regards to modern Japanese history. I would love to let myself hope for future developments in order to preserve entirely, and not partially, this legacy which is valuable for the world34.

  • 35 Masatsugu Takahashi, “Afterword”, in Ephemeral Dreams. Building 30 on Battleship Island ~ 1972+2014(...)
  • 36 Tōru Sakai wrote “one of” to point out that there are twenty-two other sites on the list. “Afterwor (...)

25Takahashi wrote in May 2014, “Today, Battleship Island, officially known as Hashima, is being targeted for preservation as a site of industrial heritage and is open to tourists35”. In 2014, Sakai wrote, “The government of Japan has applied for the registration of “World Heritage” to “Unesco” with the recommendation of “Industrial Heritage of Kyushu, Yamaguchi”; Gunkanjima is one of the assets of the program36”. Also in 2014, Takushima wrote:

  • 37 Shōji Takushima, Exhibition of the Photographs of Takushima Shōji, p. 3.

In 2008, it was decided that it would be added to the World Heritage Tentative List as part of the “Modernization industrial heritage group of Kyushu • Yamaguchi”, and now that the movement towards the registration of the World Heritage Site is active, I exhibit again these landscapes of the island and the lives of the people of that time; I sincerely hope that it will help to register this site as a World Heritage37.

  • 38 For example, Nippon (1934-1944), Shanghai (1938-39), or Front (1942-45) were illustrated magazines (...)
  • 39 With the exception of the catalogue of Shōji Takushima that is only sold at the JCII shop and does (...)

26Even if not all the photographers mentioned their intent to support the attempts of the Japanese government to register Gunkanjima as a World Heritage Site as directly as Henmi, Takahashi, Sakai and Takushima, it is clear that the sudden trend of Gunkanjima photobooks during the last fifteen years met this political agenda. Much like the illustrated magazines in the prewar period38, today’s photobooks can be a powerful tool for communication. Indeed, these photobooks are of reasonable sizes and prices (table 1). They target a large audience and are not meant for a small circle of photobook collectors. In the age of globalization, thanks to online platforms such as Amazon, they can also be spread worldwide and easily reach an international audience39. Since 2015, some of them are also sold at the Gunkanjima Digital Museum’s gift shop, which targets domestic and international tourists alike.

27Nevertheless, as soon as South Korea heard about Japan’s efforts to register the island – which Korean people called “Prison Island” and “Hell Island” in regards to their compatriots sent there for forced labor –, they made their opposition known. Some of the photographers do briefly mention in their texts how Koreans were treated during the war. These texts, however, are mainly written in Japanese, meaning that the international audiences who cannot read Japanese are left principally with the images. Although photographs are indeed a universal language, they also provide a misleading guarantee of veracity. The display of a large, solid and happy Gunkanjima family between the 1950s and the early 1970s thus appears as a perfect counterbalance to the Korean critics, which describe the island as hell on earth. In addition, the bid for the World Heritage Site inscription implies the need to preserve the island before it crumbles completely, so the illustration of the deterioration through time after the closure of the island also offers a persuasive argument.

The French Photobook: A Different Perspective?

  • 40 The island was used as a set for a short part of the movie. It is presented by the James Bond girl (...)

28While the Japanese political agenda can explain the content and publication dates of the photobooks published by the Japanese photographers, what can be said about the photobook published by non-Japanese photographers? In the last two decades, Gunkanjima has drawn the attention of an increasing amount of people outside of Japan. Its impressive architecture is said to have inspired the movie Inception in 2010, and was used in 2012 for the James Bond movie, Skyfall40. On the internet, there are also many photographs taken by amateur photographers of various nationalities. However, among the non-Japanese photographers, the French Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre were the only ones to publish a photobook fully dedicated to the island.

  • 41 Fifteen photographs were taken by Chiyuki Itō, a previous miner of the island, and seven are from t (...)
  • 42 Some of the photographs by Marchand and Meffre, such as old photographs published in their photoboo (...)

29Their photobook, entitled Gunkanjima, was published in 2013 and shows the images they shot in 2008 and 2012. Like the Japanese photographers who visited the island after 1974, they recorded the exterior of the buildings, nature that took over the constructed environment, the interior of the buildings, and some close-ups of abandoned objects. In addition, each plate is accompanied by a short caption, which gives information on the building featured in the image and from where it was shot, in the case of a panoramic view. It also includes some older photographs, taken by Japanese people who lived on the island41, alongside the more recently produced images by the French duo42, to create a didactic narration of “before” and “now”.

  • 43 She met several persons who previously lived on Gunkanjima and she visited the island with them.
  • 44 “Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s book compiles spectacular photographs of this unique city. It al (...)
  • 45 Alissa Descotte-Toyosaki, “Memories of Hashima”, p. 106.

30Marchand and Meffre collaborated with two authors: Brian Burke-Gaffney, Professor at the Institute of Applied Sciences of Nagasaki, and Alissa Descotte-Toyosaki, a freelance journalist who published a long article on Gunkanjima in the French magazine Géo in 2009. While the text of Brian Burke-Gaffney recounts the history of the island since the nineteenth century in the context of the mining economy in Kyushu up until recent days, the text of Descotte-Toyosaki brings together the journalist’s contemporary impressions with the memories of former inhabitants43. She also uses a “before” and “now” approach, except that while the photographs by Marchand and Meffre intend to criticize the “principle of modernity [that] drove [the island] to ruin”, her text calls on feelings of nostalgia of a lost furusato44, quoting the words of a previous inhabitant, Hideko Nomo: “Was I happy? Yes, it was paradise for me45”. In the context of the South Korea-Japan battle over Gunkanjima, the use of the word “paradise” then appears as an even stronger statement. Thus, the photobook of Marchand & Meffre seems to play along with the Japanese race for the inscription of Gunkanjima as a World Heritage Site. However, this photobook does have added value compared to most of the Japanese photobooks, because it was simultaneously published in two editions: one in French and one in English, which allowed the words of the Japanese people to touch an even wider audience.

Conclusion

  • 46 Cecile Laly, La revue photographique Kôga: Nojima Yasuzô, Nakayama Iwata, Kimura Ihee et Ina Nobuo. (...)
  • 47 One example among others, Ju-Ling Lee wrote about Japanese photographers in Taiwan in the 1920s: “J (...)

31In conclusion, the larger numbers of photographic publications in the news, journals, the specialized press, and the collections of illustrated publications by publishing houses is not surprising when a subject is currently of national or international interest, as was Gunkanjima around the time of its inscription as a World Heritage Site. Photobooks, however, differ from these publications, as the photographers commissioned by these publications are forced to work under the editorial biases of these journals, magazines or collections. A photobook itself is the production of a photographer as a social being. Indeed, the social role of photographers was enlightened and advocated as soon as the early 1930s, developing upon the use of page layout, photographs, font, and captions in illustrated publications around the same time.46 Because photobooks do present a statement at a given time (a work of art is the product of a person, a place, and a time) and are objects that last (actualities are ephemeral; art productions are lasting), it gives them a certain aura, rendering the visual narration that they offer of primary importance. A part of these photobooks presented the inhabited Gunkanjima as “one island, one family”, as “paradise”, a place where adults and children were happy, while on an international scale, the island was likewise called “Hell Island” and voices in defense of the former Korean and Chinese forced laborers were grumbling. Fashioning a positive image of a place and its way of life through photography is also nothing new in the history of Japanese photography, and the editorial choices of the photographers are certainly reminiscent of the ones made for photographic propaganda publications of the late 1930s and early 1940s.47 Although the photobooks featuring the closure of the mine and the island call to mind the situation of the miners in early 1974, they deliberately chose a visual narrative that does not emphasize pathos. Finally, the remaining photobooks illustrate the decay of the island since it was abandoned, and thus point out the need to preserve this industrial heritage of the Meiji and Taishō eras against rapid deterioration, which can be used as an argument for its inscription. Seemingly a follow up to this narrative, the French photobook appears to be the successful result of the image constructed of the island by the Japanese. In addition, while the first photobooks that portrayed the abandoned island gave way to its transformation into a museum, the multitude of publications that came about later brought upon a further shift: Gunkanjima’s evolution into a muse, a presence that is very much alive. Consequently, we can argue that the photobooks not only helped the rehabilitation and inscription project of the island, but because of their particular status, they also gave Gunkanjima entry into the artistic heritage of Japan.

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Bibliographie

Gerry Badger, Martin Parr, The Photobook: A History (1-3), London & New-York, Phaidon Press, 2004-2014.

Nathalie Boulouch, « Photobooks », Critique d’art, no27, printemps 2006 [En ligne] https://journals.openedition.org/critiquedart/1223?lang=fr, consulté le 14 avril 2020.

Jeff Chapman, Access all areas: a user’s guide to the art of urban exploration, Toronto, Infilpress, 2005.

Sandrine Dalban-Tabard, « Un autre regard : la Mandchourie des photographes pictorialistes japonais », Cipango, no 18, 2011, pp. 79-104 [En ligne] https://journals.openedition.org/cipango/1522, consulté le 14 avril 2020.

Alissa Descotte-Toyosaki, « Gunkanjima, retour dans l’île fantôme », Géo, no 369, November 2009, pp. 88-98.

Ken Domon, ken domon shashinshū: chikuhō no kodomo-tachi (The Children of Chikuhō. Photographs of Domon Ken), Tokyo, Patoria Shoten, 1960.

Ken Domon, ken domon shashinshū: rumie-chan ha otōsan ga shinda (The father of Rumie-chan is dead. Photographs of Domon Ken), Tokyo, Kenkōsha, 1960.

Chiyuki Itō, Yoshitaka Akui, gunkanjima. kaijō sangyō toshi ni sumu (Gunkanjima: to live in a maritime industrial city), Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten, 1995.

Cecile Laly, La revue photographique Kôga: Nojima Yasuzô, Nakayama Iwata, Kimura Ihee et Ina Nobuo. Passerelles entre les modernités (thèse de doctorat, université Paris-Sorbonne, 2011).

Ju-Ling Lee, « La photographie coloniale et le gouvernement général de Taiwan », dans Julien Bouvard, Cléa Patin, Japon Pluriel 12, Arles, Picquier, 2019, p. 119-130 [En ligne] https://www.dropbox.com/s/ee8s7f2c93tw15w/9-ju-ling_lee.pdf?dl=0, consulté le 14 avril 2020.

Lindsay R. Morrison, « Home of the Heart: the Modern Origins of Furusato », ICU Comparative Culture, no 45, 2013, pp. 1-27 [En ligne] http://subsites.icu.ac.jp/org/sscc/pdf/morrison_45.pdf, consulté le 24 avril 2020.

Ikkō Narahara, Human Land, Tokyo, Libroport, 1987.

Tōru Sakai, Gunkanjima ni ikunihon saigo no zekkei (Going to Gunkanjima – The Last Picturesque Scenery of Japan), Tokyo, Kasakura, 2015.

Dōtoku Sakamoto, Takayuki Kojima, Toshiko Matsumoto, Gunkanjima: sumi-kata no kioku (Gunkanjima. Memories of the Inhabitants), Nagasaki, Association for Gunkanjima World Heritage, 2014.

Yasunori Takazane, « Should “Gunkanjima” Be a World Heritage Site? - The forgotten scars of Korean forced labor », The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus, vol. 13, issue 28, no 1, 13 juillet, 2015, pp. 1-7 [En ligne] https://apjjf.org/2015/13/28/Takazane-Yasunori/4340.html, consulté le 10 novembre 2019.

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Annexe

Corpus of photobooks

Sanpei Henmi, Ganbare Gunkanjima (Hang in there, Gunkanjima!), Tokyo, Shinpūsha, 2005.

Takuo Iwasaki, Retrospective Silence. Gunkanjima in 1994, Tokyo, Tokyo Tosho Shuppan, 2015.

Shin.ichirō Kobayashi, No Man’s Land, Gunkanjima, Tokyo, Kōdansha, 2004.

Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre, Gunkanjima, Göttingen, Steidl, 2013.

Taiji Matsue, Hashima – 1983 Gunkanjima, Tokyo, Getsuyōsha, 2017.

Junzō Matsuo, Hideo Kaji, Gunkanjima gunjō haruka (Gunkanjima. Distant ultramarine), Nagasaki, Nagasaki Bunkensha, 2015.

Takashi Minagawa, Ano koro no gunkanjima, ima mo hitobito no koe ga kikoeru (Gunkanjima of those days. I can still hear the voices of the ancient inhabitants), Tokyo, Sangyō Henshū Center, 2013.

Hiroshi Ōhashi, 1972, Seishun, Gunkanjima (1972: My youth on Gunkanjima), Tokyo, Shinjuku Shobō, first edition in 2006, reedited in 2010.

Yūji Saiga, Tōru Sunouchi, Gunkanjima, suterareta shima no fūkei – Gunkanjima: Views of an Abandoned Island, Tokyo, Shinchōsha, 1986.

Yūji Saiga, Tsuki no michi – Borderland, Tokyo, Shinchōsha, 1993.

Yūji Saiga, Nemuri no naka no kakusei – Gunkanjima: Awakening of a Dead Island, Kyoto, Tankōsha, 2003.

Tōru Sakai, Mirai seiki, Gunkanjima – The Future Century: Gunkan-jima, Tokyo, Million, 2014.

Masatsugu Takahashi, Gunkanjima 30 gōtō mugen hōyō ~ 1972+2014 – Ephemeral Dreams. Building 30 on Battleship Island ~ 1972+2014, Tokyo, Daiwa Shobō, 2014.

Takushima Shōji sakuhin ten, midori naki shima o saru hitobito sono toki, Gunkanjima 1974 (Exhibition of the photographs of Takushima Shōji: Gunkanjima 1974 – When people abandoned the island without green), JCII Photo Salon, Tokyo, April 1-27, 2014.

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Notes

1 From “urban exploration”: a movement that started in the 1980s involving clandestine exploration of abandoned and off-limit places. The urbexers try to visit these confidential places in the most neutral way possible (no modification of the scenery, no souvenirs taken, etc.). See Jeff Chapman, Access all areas: a user’s guide to the art of urban exploration, Toronto, Infilpress, 2005.

2 Apart from photobooks that are the focus of this paper, DVDs with documentary movies and CDs of music based on or inspired by sounds from the island were also produced, boat tours were organized, the island was used as a setting for a James Bond movie, and a digital museum was created.

3 This paper follows the research and documentation work done by the author for the Dictionnaire historique des photographes d’architecture (Historical Dictionary of Architecture Photographers), a project lead by the late Professor Gérard Monnier, architecture historian and photographer. The author, art historian, was in charge of the entries related to Japan, and one of the unexpected results of this work was that a few Japanese urban environments (city, districts) and buildings stood out by appearing again and again in the work of the Japanese (and sometimes also foreign) photographers.

4 Nathalie Boulouch in her review of The photobooks by Badger and Parr (Critique d’art, no 27, spring 2006).

5 For a chronology of mining on Hashima during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, see the “Detailed Chronological Table of Hashima” on www.gunkanjima-truth.com.

6 For a history of the construction of the island and its buildings, see Dōtoku Sakamoto, Takayuki Kojima, Toshiko Matsumoto, Gunkanjima. Memories of the Inhabitants, Nagasaki, Association for Gunkanjima World Heritage, 2014.

7 The resemblance to a battle ship was noticed as soon as building 30 was erected, but the nickname seems to have been coined by the Journal Nagasaki Nichi Nichi Shinbun in 1921.

8 The tentative list of “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” includes Hashima and twenty-two other sites. None of the twenty-two other sites seem to have inspired a single photobook.

9 Introduction by Tze M. Loo from the translation of the article written by Takazane Yasunori and entitled “Should “Gunkanjima” Be a World Heritage Site? – The forgotten scars of Korean forced labor”, in The Asia-Pacific Journal, vol. 13, issue 28, no 1, July 13, 2015 [on line].

10 The title of this photobook was translated into English by the author. See table 1 to know in which language the titles of the photobooks analyzed in this paper are written.

11 Concerning the photobooks featuring photographs of Gunkanjima in the 1950s, Ikkō Narahara’s Human Land (1987) is not included in this paper because it is not entirely dedicated to the island – it is composed of two parts, one on Gunkanjima and one on Kurokami village.

12 “One day, I got a chance to meet a student who visited the island and we talked about photography. The night before he left, he invited me over in the ryokan (Japanese traditional Inn) where he was staying in order to give me his “leftover films”. I was so thankful; among the films I got, there were also some well-liked “Try X”. A few months later, photographs of that person were published in Asahi Camera, and I understood he was Mr. Ikkō Narahara.” Takashi Minagawa, “Afterword”, in Gunkanjima of those days. I can still hear the voices of the ancient inhabitants, p. 90-91.

13 5259 inhabitants, a density of 835 inhabitants per hectare.

14 Minagawa, “Afterword”, p. 90.

15 Thirty-seven photographs out of eighty-two.

16 This explanation is given by Minagawa himself in the “Afterword”, p. 90. Moreover, the rather low point of view of many of the photographs would also lead us to think that the images were shot when he was himself a child.

17 Ōhashi confirms this view by writing: “Those are private photographs; even though this was a mining island, those images don’t show the miners. One year before its closure, by sheer chance I lived there, so it’s a record of my youth on Gunkanjima”, p. 10-11. “I once asked the supervisor if I could go inside the mine and take photographs. He said “sooner or later”. But there was an explosion. It was dangerous to enter the mine for a novice; I never got the chance to enter. […] My work was to load tools and equipment used by the miners, and I did not talk with them at all, nor photograph them. Unfortunately, I don’t even have one image of them. But when I think about it now, I can’t say I was desperately trying to take pictures of them”, p. 58-59. Takahashi’s testimony is quite similar; he wrote that he was concerned by the history of the Kyūshū mines because every year he had been visiting one of his friends living in the Chikuhō area. He added that in this region “at that time [1972], many places had already been abandoned and the devastated mine area was indeed photogenic”, p. 134. But during the time he spent on Gunkanjima, he did not photograph the mine. “Only Mitsubishi’s regular workers and the miners were allowed inside the mine”, p. 137.

18 Some of the photographs by Takahashi along with a shorter text in English can be found on his site “The Max World”.

19 Takahashi went back to Gunkanjima in 2014 and shot new photographs that he also published in his photobook.

20 Takahashi also went back to Gunkanjima in 1974 after he heard of the closure on the national news; he wanted to say his goodbyes to the people he had met and to the place where he had lived a year before, but he did not include photographs taken at that time in his photobook.

21 Furusato in Japanese can mean “hometown”, but it also includes a wider meaning of “a feeling of nostalgia”. On furusato, see Lindsay R. Morrison, “Home of the Heart: the Modern Origins of Furusato”, ICU Comparative Culture, no 45, 2013, pp. 1-27. In this particular case, as Takushima is not an ancient inhabitant of Gunkanjima, it does not mean hometown (he was born in Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture), it refers to a general feeling of nostalgia.

22 Exhibition of the Photographs of Takushima Shōji: Gunkanjima 1974 – When People Abandoned the Island Without Green, JCII Photo Salon, Tokyo, April 1-27, 2014, p. 3.

23 The official closure ceremony took place on January 15, 1974.

24 These two books are very close, because the one from 2003 is an augmented and slightly modified reprint of the one from 1986.

25 A selection of his photographs from the 1980s can be seen on his site in the gallery “Gunkanjima – Views of an Abandoned Island”.

26 There are twenty photographs reproduced in the 1986 photobook and twenty-eight in the 2003 photobook. Among these, fourteen are the same in both photobooks. So, in his photobooks, he published a total of thirty-four photographs taken in 1974 in vignette format. Some of them can be found reproduced on his site in the gallery titled “1974 Gunkanjima”.

27 This was a deliberate choice. In the entry from the 1st of March of his diary-like text, Saiga related that a person he met on Gunkanjima complained that photographers, such as Ken Domon (1909-1990), who published the photobooks The children of Chikuhō and The father of Rumie-chan is dead in 1960, produced a mannerism of miserabilism to describe the mines.

28 Sanpei Henmi, “Gunkanjima Today (gunkanjima no genzai)”, in Sanpei Henmi, Hang in there, Gunkanjima!, Tokyo, Shinpūsha, 2005, p. 63.

29 The photographs taken in the mid-1980s show that Gunkanjima was already suffering from severe deterioration. In the “Afterword” of Gunkanjima: Awakening of a Dead Island, when talking about his visit in 1984, Saiga wrote: “Since [the closure] a long time has passed. Devastation is quick when people stop living in a place; it has also been destroyed by human hand”, p. 133.

30 A selection of the photographs published in this book can be seen on the photographer’s site in the gallery “No Man’s Land, Gunkanjima”.

31 Twenty-two of the photographs from this publication are visible on the site of the photographer in the gallery “Tsuki no Michi – Borderland”.

32 Michiko Kasahara, “Strange Things”, in Yūji Saiga, Gunkanjima: Awakening of a Dead Island, p. 98-99. This text, which compares the island to a museum, is the only one translated into English in this book. The three other texts, written by Saiga, and which depict the island and the situation of the miners in 1974, are published only in Japanese.

33 Dōtoku Sakamoto lived on the island and was part of the foundation of the Association for Gunkanjima World Heritage. Since then, he has run it, and he is also taking part in the touristic tours organized on the island.

34 Sanpei Henmi, “Gunkanjima today”, p. 63.

35 Masatsugu Takahashi, “Afterword”, in Ephemeral Dreams. Building 30 on Battleship Island ~ 1972+2014, Tokyo: Daiwa Shobō, 2014, p. 143.

36 Tōru Sakai wrote “one of” to point out that there are twenty-two other sites on the list. “Afterword”, in The Future Century: Gunkan-jima, Tokyo: Million, 2014, p. 159.

37 Shōji Takushima, Exhibition of the Photographs of Takushima Shōji, p. 3.

38 For example, Nippon (1934-1944), Shanghai (1938-39), or Front (1942-45) were illustrated magazines published by Japanese photographers, photo critics, etc. and were used as propaganda organs between the mid-1930s and the mid-1940s.

39 With the exception of the catalogue of Shōji Takushima that is only sold at the JCII shop and does not have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number).

40 The island was used as a set for a short part of the movie. It is presented by the James Bond girl Séverine as an island which was abandoned almost overnight by all its inhabitants. The silhouette of the island seen from the boat was digitally reshaped – the “gunkan” part of island was erased; the buildings were modified to add depth to the perspective and make the island look wider; and the architectural characteristics of the concrete buildings were also reworked.

41 Fifteen photographs were taken by Chiyuki Itō, a previous miner of the island, and seven are from the private collection of Dōtoku Sakamoto.

42 Some of the photographs by Marchand and Meffre, such as old photographs published in their photobook, can be seen on their site on the page “Gunkanjima”.

43 She met several persons who previously lived on Gunkanjima and she visited the island with them.

44 “Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s book compiles spectacular photographs of this unique city. It also restores Hashima’s memory as furusato, “native land”, through historical pictures among which the photographs of Chiyuki Ito, a miner in Hashima for 22 years; a living testimony of the island and its inhabitants. Here is their story.” Alissa Descotte-Toyosaki, “Memories of Hashima”, in Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre, Gunkanjima, Göttingen, Steidl, 2013, p. 105.

45 Alissa Descotte-Toyosaki, “Memories of Hashima”, p. 106.

46 Cecile Laly, La revue photographique Kôga: Nojima Yasuzô, Nakayama Iwata, Kimura Ihee et Ina Nobuo. Passerelles entre les modernités (Doctorate thesis, Paris-Sorbonne University, 2011).

47 One example among others, Ju-Ling Lee wrote about Japanese photographers in Taiwan in the 1920s: “Japanese photographers in Taiwan, whether they were passionate about photography or used it as a working tool, all participated in the production of the image of the island” (« La photographie coloniale et le gouvernement général de Taiwan », Japon Pluriel 12, p. 122).

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Table des illustrations

Légende From left to right: Yūji Saiga, Tsuki no michi – Borderland; Shin.ichirō Kobayashi, No Man’s Land, Gunkanjima; Yūji Saiga, Gunkanjima: Awakening of a Dead Island; Hiroshi Ōhashi, 1972, Seishun, Gunkanjima (1972: My youth on Gunkanjima); Takashi Minagawa, Ano koro no gunkanjima, ima mo hitobito no koe ga kikoeru (Gunkanjima of those days. I can still hear the voices of the ancient inhabitants); Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre, Gunkanjima.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/craup/docannexe/image/4066/img-1.jpg
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Crédits Source: https://echo.hypotheses.org/​files/​2020/​06/​Table-1.jpg
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Fichier image/jpeg, 349k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Cecile Laly, « Photobooks dedicated to Gunkanjima: Random Personal Memories or Strategical Publications? »Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale urbaine et paysagère [En ligne], 7 | 2020, mis en ligne le 30 juin 2020, consulté le 05 août 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/craup/4066; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/craup.4066

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Auteur

Cecile Laly

Docteure en histoire de l’art de l’université Paris-Sorbonne, Cecile Laly enseigne actuellement la culture et l’art japonais à l’université Musashi, Tokyo, et elle est membre du réseau scientifique thématique JapArchi. Spécialisée en histoire de la photographie japonaise, elle a notamment contribué au projet Dictionnaire historique des photographes d’architecture du Professeur Gérard Monnier. Après la rédaction d’entrées consacrées aux photographes nippons, elle a travaillé sur les livres de photographie que ces derniers ont publiés et qui sont dédiés à des lieux spécifiques. Dans ce cadre, elle a publié un chapitre sur les livres de photographie dédiés à la capitale du pays du soleil levant intitulé Multifaceted Portraits of Tokyo in Contemporary Photobooks (2016), puis elle s’est tournée vers les publications consacrées à Gunkanjima.
Cecile Laly currently teaches Japanese art and culture at Musashi University in Tokyo and is a member of the scientific network JapArchi. She holds a Doctorate of Art History from Paris-Sorbonne University and is specialized in the history of Japanese photography. As such, she wrote entries about Japanese photographers as a contribution to the Historical Dictionary of Architectural Photographers project, led by Professor Gérard Monnier. This was followed by her work on photobooks published by these photographers, which were focused on constructed Japanese landscapes. Before turning her interest towards photobooks dedicated to Gunkanjima, she published a chapter entitled Multifaceted Portraits of Tokyo in Contemporary Photobooks (2016).

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