Half a century ago, Hashimoto Shoko photographed blind female musicians called the goze who toured and performed in the rural areas along the Sea of Japan. [Note: In Japanese, goze is pronounced as in “rosé”]

The goze would visit farmhouses and sing a short song accompanied by shamisen at the entrances in the day time. At night, they would sing songs in different lengths, including narrative songs for the villagers who would gather, and they were rewarded with rice and other crops and money.

When Hashimoto followed three elderly goze with his camera in the early 1970s through the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, their existence was already nearly lost - the industrial and urban development in Japan at that time led to a decline in agriculture and rural population, directly impacting their livelihood.

This publication is a reprint of all the articles on the goze photographed by Hashimoto, which were originally published in Asahi Graph, a Japanese weekly pictorial magazine that continued from 1923 to 2000. Articles included are: “Goze, Sightless Female Singers” from May 8, 1970; “Four Seasons of Goze” series from October 26, November 2, November 9 and November 16, 1973.

This reprint includes English translations for all the articles and an additional essay written by Hasegawa Hiroshi.

“The journey must continue on cold and hot days, whether rain falls, the sun shines or winds are blowing hard. The basic form of travel is with a large cocoon cap on the head, face and neck covered with a towel, a kimono made of strong material with working pants, an apron, jika-tabi or rubber boots. Always in this same garb, the goze go from village to village in their endless single file.

These women follow such restrictions due to their journeys as itinerant blind performers, but the strictness of the constraints of unchanging clothing and their relentless procession makes their lives shine. There is surely no better icon to convey the vigour and rectitude of their lives. A steady gait that steps forward on the ground at all times makes you feel the strength of their will to live.”

-Excerpts from “The Goze’s Journey” by Hasegawa Hiroshi

Book Size
343 × 263 mm
72 pages
Publication Year
English, Japanese
Limited Edition

Artist Profile


Born in Ishinomaki in 1939, Hashimoto graduated from Nihon University, College of Art in 1964, specializing in photography. In 1974, he received the Newcomer Award from the Photographic Society of Japan with his photobook “Goze” (Nora-sha). In the same year, the series was selected for the “15 Photographers” exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and collected by the museum. Hashimoto actively photographed Lee Dynasty folk paintings in Korea from 1979 to 1981. He had travelled to Nagano, Yamagata, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Yamanashi and Miyagi prefectures to document the folk customs of Japan that were gradually disappearing as a photojournalist. Since 2011, he has regularly returned to photograph his hometown, Ishinomaki, which was devastated by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. His recent solo exhibitions include: “Goze” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2013; Zeit-Foto Salon, 2014), “Nishiyama Onsen — Empire of Nakedness” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2014), “A Village Lullaby” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2015), “Biwa Houshi” (Zeit-Foto Salon, 2016), “Literary Scholars” (Sokyusha, 2017), “Goze” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2020), “Goze — Shoko Hashimoto” (Ikeda Art Museum, Niigata, 2022), and “Goze” (AN-A Fundación, Barcelona, 2022). His publications include: “Goze” (Aron Shobo, 1988), “Kitakami River” (Shumpusha, 2014), “Nishiyama Onsen” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2014), “Kitakami River New Edition” (Shumpusha, 2015), “Undergrowth” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2016), “San’ya 1968.8.1–8.20” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2017), “Goze Asahigraph Reprint” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2019), “Goze” (New Complete Edition, Zen Foto Gallery, 2021), and "Ishinomaki" (Zen Foto Gallery, 2023)

Gallery Exhibitions