Seiji Kurata

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Seiji Kurata (倉田精二, Kurata Seiji, 1945 - 27 February 2020) was a Japanese photographer.


Kurata was born in Chūō-ku, Tokyo, 1945. He graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1968.[1] He taught in secondary school and worked in oils, printmaking, and experimental movies.[2]

He practised under Daidō Moriyama in an independent photography workshop in 1976.[3]

Kurata won the fifth Kimura Ihei Award in 1980 for his first book, Flash Up. For the black-and-white photographs here, Kurata used flash and a medium format camera,[4] resulting in a detailed portrait of a world of bōsōzoku, gangsters, rightists, strippers, transvestites, and so on: as Parr and Badger point out, these are old subjects; but in his "highly polished, detailed" work, Kurata "has an unerring instinct for pictures that suggest stories".[5] Photo Cabaret and 80's Family continued in this direction. This Japanese work of Kurata's is anthologized in his later volume Japan.

Kurata won the PSJ award in 1992. A long stay in Mongolia in 1994 led to the book Toransu Ajia, which continued color work of the Asian mainland started with Dai-Ajia.

In 1999 Kurata's book Japan won the Kodansha Publishing Culture Award (講談社出版文化賞) for a work of photography.[6]

Prints of Kurata's photographs are in the permanent collections of ICP (New York), the Brooklyn Museum, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.[7]

He died on 27 February 2020.[8]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • ストリートフォトランダム東京 "Street Photo Random Tokyo 1975–79". Nikon Salon, Tokyo and Osaka, 1979.[9]
  • フォトキャバレー "Photo Cabaret". Doi Photo Plaza, Shibuya, Tokyo, 1983.[9]
  • ストリートフォトランダム東京II "Street Photo Random Tokyo 2". Nikon Salon, Tokyo, 1986.[9]
  • 大亜細亜 "Great Asia". Minolta Photo Space, Shinjuku, Tokyo, 1990.[9]
  • "Quest for Eros" I. Mole, Tokyo, 1993.[9]
  • トランスアジア "Trans Asia". Nikon Salon, Tokyo; Visual Arts School, Osaka, 1995.[9]
  • "Tokyo: Theatrical Megalopolis". O. K. Harris Gallery, New York, 1995.[9]
  • トランスマーケット=東京神田青果市場をゆく "Trans Market: Tokyo Kanda vegetable and fruit market". Nikon Salon, Tokyo and Osaka, 1996.[9]
  • ジャパン70年代から90年代へ Japan from the 70s to the 90s. Kodak Photo Salon, Tokyo, 1999.[9]
  • "Quest for Eros" II. Galleria Prova, Tokyo, 1999.[9]
  • 都市の造景. Epsite, Tokyo, 2008.[9]
  • アンコール・都市の造景 B&W篇. Gallery Punctum, Tokyo, 2009.[9]
  • "Trans Asia, again!" Place M, Tokyo, 2013.[9]

Publications by Kurata[edit]

Following a title in Japanese script, an italicized roman-letter title is one provided on or in the book itself; a non-italicized roman-letter title is a mere gloss of the original title.

  • Flash Up: Street Photo Random Tokyo 1975–1979. Tokyo: Byakuya Shobō, 1980. Black-and-white photographs. Includes one essay in English but also several in Japanese only; the captions too are only in Japanese.
  • Foto Kyabarē (フォト・キャバレー) / Photo Cabaret. Tokyo: Byakuya Shobō, 1982. ISBN 978-4-938256-39-5. Black-and-white photographs of Japan. Text in Japanese only.
  • Dai-Ajia (大亜細亜, Great Asia). Tokyo: IBC, 1990. ISBN 4-87198-807-4.
  • 80's Family: Street Photo Random Japan. Tokyo: JICC Shuppankyoku, 1991. ISBN 4-7966-0079-5. Black-and-white and colour photographs of Japan. Text in Japanese only.
  • Toransu-Ajia (トランスアジア, Trans-Asia). Tokyo: Ōta Shuppan, 1995. ISBN 4-87233-218-0.
  • Japan (ジャパン) / Japan. Tokyo: Shinchōsha, Photo Musée, 1998. ISBN 4-10-602433-0. The captions are in English.
  • Kuesuto fō Erosu (クエスト・フォー・エロス) / Quest for Eros. Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1998. ISBN 4-10-430201-5.
  • Trans Asia, again! Tokyo: Place M, 2013. ISBN 978-4-905360-08-7. Zine, published on the occasion of an exhibition at Place M of the same title.
  • Flash Up. Tokyo: Zen Foto Gallery, 2013.
  • Toshi no zōkei (都市の造景). Kamakura: Super Labo, 2015. ISBN 978-4-905052-86-9.[n 1]


  1. ^ Super Labo's page about the booklet is here.


  1. ^ 1968: Iizawa, Tōkyō Shashin, p.260; also Sanjūroku fotogurafāzu, p.11. According to the blurb on the front and back flaps of Kurata's Japan, 1976.
  2. ^ Sanjūroku fotogurafāzu, p.11.
  3. ^ Wākushoppu Shashin-juku, taught by Shōmei Tōmatsu, Nobuyoshi Araki, Masahisa Fukase, Eikoh Hosoe, Noriaki Yokosuka, as well as Moriyama. Sources: Iizawa, p.143; Sanjūroku fotogurafāzu, p.11.
  4. ^ The array of specific hardware used is listed at the back of the book; it does include a 35mm SLR camera as well.
  5. ^ Martin Parr; Gerry Badger (2004). The Photobook: A History, Volume I. London: Phaidon. p. 305. ISBN 0-7148-4285-0.
  6. ^ List of past award winners Archived 2010-04-18 at the Wayback Machine, Kodansha. Accessed 7 December 2009.
  7. ^ TPO Photo School profile.
  8. ^ 倉田精二氏が死去 写真家 (in Japanese). The Nikkei. 2020-03-10.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m List of exhibitions, last (non-numbered) page, "Trans Asia, again!" (Tokyo: Place M, 2013).

Links and sources[edit]