We present works by two Japanese photographers, Shunji Dodo and Seiryu Inoue. Known variously as Shinseikai or Kamagasaki, among other names, it is a notorious district of southern Osaka near Tennoji. This is a rough area. Day labourers hang around hoping for work on one of the building sites of Osaka. If they don't catch a ride on the back of a truck for a hard day's work they will sit drinking by the side of the road. If they were lucky to get a job they will return and spend their money drinking and whoring.

The area is pure underworld Japan. Porn movie theaters and roadside bars, prostitutes and pimps, gangsters and gamblers. The other face of Japan's romanticized High Growth Era. Shunji Dodo was born and raised in Osaka. He has been teacher and then principal of the Osaka Visual Arts College since the early 1970s. He received the Ina Nobuo Award in 1999. Dodo's book “Shinsekai: Past and Present” was published in 1986. Seiryu Inoue was born in 1931 in Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku and moved to Osaka as a young man, working in the photographic studio of Takeji Iwamiya from 1951.

For his photographic work in the district in the 1950s “The Hundred Faces of Kamagasaki” he received in 1961 the Newcomer's Award from the Japan Photography Critics' Association.

In 1959 a young Daido Moriyama also joined Iwamiya's studio. The older Inoue clearly had a great influence on Moriyama and they remained close friends until Inoue's untimely death in 1988.

The work of Osaka-based photographers may not have received the attention given to those in Tokyo, but the works from Osaka on display in this exhibition at Zen Foto stand comparison with any taken in post-war Japan.

Artist Profile

Seiryu INOUE

Born in 1931 in Tosa, Kochi Prefecture.
Inoue became apprentice to Takeji Iwamiya in Osaka in 1951. In 1961 he received the “Japan Photography Critics Newcomer Award” for his work “Kamagasaki”. In 1988 he died in an accident while photographing in the Amami Oshima Islands.

Publications & Prints