Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present our third solo exhibition with Naohiro Harada, “Tokyo Fishgraphs | 2020” from Friday, March 29 to Saturday, April 20, 2024. After we published his photobook “The Third Room” in 2018, Harada began creating the series to document Tokyo as the city prepares for the 2020 Olympics. The work received the 2022 Libraryman Award from Libraryman, a publishing house currently based in Paris and Basel, and a book was published by the company later in the same year. This exhibition will feature 16 colour prints selected from the book and made especially for the exhibition.

In 2024, Paris will host the Summer Olympics for the first time in a century. Reflecting on 2020, Tokyo, the previous host city, faced an unexpected pandemic and was caught in a dilemma between hosting the Games and preventing the spread of the disease. After a prolonged effort to avoid human contact, the city managed to host the Games after a year of postponement. I started working on this series at the end of 2018 to showcase Tokyo to the world. Through the preparation period and hosting period of the Olympics, I completed the series with a touch of affection and irony towards the city. As a prelude to this year’s Paris Olympics, I hope this work will provide an opportunity to reflect on the peculiar memories of Tokyo around 2020.

Original description of the work:

The series is an attempt to explore the origin of the eccentricity of Japanese visual culture through the usage of traditional methods by composing a fictional documentary for the audienceless 2020 Olympics, which was postponed due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
During this phantasmal time, I decided to convert the strange experience into a series of contemporary Mitate-e, i.e. a genre term within Japanese art that witfully plays with allusions, puns, and gaps in what we understand, by depicting and parodying historical and traditional events.

There are three main themes in this series of Mitate-e:

Utagawa Hiroshige

The world-renowned ukiyo-e artist created One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. Edo is the former name of Tokyo, and the work, being a masterpiece of landscapes, is one of the most original representations of the sights of Edo-Tokyo. In addition to making One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, Hiroshige also produced the beautiful Grand Series of Fishes. In order to portray a visual connection to Hiroshige’s work, Harada juxtaposes black and white duplications of One Hundred Famous Views of Edo with his own pictures.


As an important part of the food culture in Tokyo, a city located by the bay, fish has been a fascinating subject throughout the history of Japanese art. Harada visited local fish markets and combined various fishes, commonly used in sushi and other Japanese dishes, to create a cultural motif by photographing them with a large-format camera in various parts of Tokyo, depicted in Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.

Empty Tokyo Streets

During 2020 and 2021, people were forced to refrain from meeting face-to-face, and the city was almost empty for a period of time, which was an unrealistic sight.
If the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics had been held as initially planned, the fishes Harada photographed might have been tasted as sushi by visitors of the world.

— Naohiro Harada

Artist Profile

Naohiro HARADA

Born in 1982 in Tokyo, Harada graduated from the Art and Architecture School of Waseda University in 2010. He held his first solo exhibition “Drifting” at Nikon Salon in Shinjuku and Osaka in 2011, and participated in “Group Exhibition vol.2 HAKKA” at BankART Studio NYK, Yokohama in 2014, and in the same year held his solo exhibition “Drifting” at Zen Foto Gallery. A photobook of the work was also published by Zen Foto Gallery under the same title. In 2016, he had a joint exhibition with Andile Buka at Totodo, Tokyo titled “Remixing Ground”. After publishing a photobook of his colour work “The Third Room” in 2018 with Zen Foto Gallery, exhibitions of the work were held at the gallery and Umeda Tsutaya Books. His work “Tokyo Fishgraphs | 2020”, created during the coronavirus pandemic, received the Libraryman Award in 2022 and a book was published by Libraryman under the same title. Harada is currently based in Tokyo.