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Tenmei KANOH

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Japan in the late sixties was the time when Daido Moriyama published "Nippon Gekijo" in Camera Mainichi magazine, and the first issue of Provoke was released. The exhibition "New Documents", curated by John Szarkowski, was held at MoMA in New York. Living in such an era, "for me, after all, photography is no more than a tool for ripping up and protesting against the times", said Kanoh.

Taking off from the U.S. military's Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Boeing B-52 bombers repeatedly flew over North Vietnam for air raids. The world saw the break-up of the Beatles, and Mick Jagger, with his uniquely curling upper lip, bouncing around the stage in Hyde Park. The younger generation, whether students or non-students, were then very socially active, and they chose to resist authority. The “anger of youth” underlay their daily lives and thought.— Tenmei Kanoh

At the time, the outbreak of the Narita protest movement (also known as the Sanrizuka struggle) drew Kanoh’s attention when he was 28 years old. Being one of the angry young men, he put himself in the site with his camera. During that time, there were already a number of photographers who had featured Sanrizuka. Yet, Kanoh intelligently captured the uncertainty of information and the disorderly atmosphere that pervaded the Japanese youth.

Through his experiences working as a cameraman, Kanoh gazed at society with his unique perspective. Furthemore, although circumstances are different between then and now, the essence of social phenomena seen through his photography remains unchanged.

Forty three years have passed since then, and yet one plot of land remains intact in the middle of the airport, showing that the protest has passed to the next generation. Kanoh expresses that, with such deep attachment to the land and tenacity of ownership, he knows the profound desire and great fortitude of human beings. “Decades have past and I wonder what the young of today have in their minds. I wonder whether I will witness their action and intellect in response to the crucial issue of the amendments to the 9th Article of the Constitution of Japan.” We invite you to see these works on the Sanrizuka struggle by Tenmei Kanoh.

Book Size
257 x 182 mm
144 pages, 131 images
Zen Foto Gallery

Tenmei KANOH


Born 1942 in Aichi. Studied under Toichi Ogawa and Takashi Kijima after graduating from Nagoya City Industrial Arts High School, and later went independent as a freelance photographer focusing on advertising in particular. Taking mainly charge of centerfolds for Heibon Punch magazine, he produced a series of nude photographs, and established his own unique style of ”photography as a tool for ripping up and objecting against the times.” After traveling to the USA to work on a New York special for Heibon Punch in 1969, he stayed in NY to sneak in and photograph orgy parties with models and hipsters of all races, and instantly gained fame with the ”FUCK” series that precisely reflected the mood in New York at the time. After that he expanded his field of activity to appearances in TV and cinema. He published Monthly Tenmei in 1993, and the photo collection Kikuze in ’94, stirring up controversy with a string of radical nude photographs. He received several prizes including the Japan Advertising Artists Club Award, APA Award, Asahi Advertising Award, and Mainichi Advertising Award among others.

Publications of Tenmei KANOH



Tenmei KANOH