Celebrating Tamiko Nishimura’s latest publication “Voyage”, Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition under the same title.

“Voyage” recounts Tamiko Nishimura’s numerous travels to Europe and within Asia between 2018 and 1987. In this exhibition, in addition to the unpublished images, 40 pieces of silver gelatin prints that were used as press print will be showcased.

Traveling in Asia somehow makes me feel nostalgic. Back before I started elementary school, my mother forbade me to cross the Tabata Bridge over the nearby Jakuzure River. Beyond that was a big street busy with car traffic, but I just had to know what lay on the other side, so I ventured out alone without telling her. Over there were houses and a Buddhist nunnery. To the left were woods, deep green and gloomy even in daytime. My “wolf forest,” I called it. Further on I came to the No. 7 Ring Route, which was still unpaved at the time, though daunting enough to make me turn back. My expectations toward crossing the boundary, as well as my sheer wonder about how such places so steeped in secrets might actually connect with my secure, normal world, brought a subtle thrill to each step I took. There’s something of that feeling when I think back on my travels in Asia, the notion of nearby foreign lands just across a bridge. The Jakuzure River of my memories was paved over in the 1970s and is now a strolling lane. (...)

The spring of 1993 I quit a three-year stint as an editor, and went that summer to Portugal. A friend of mine had majored in Portuguese at college and before I knew it she’d talked me into traveling with her. We headed north from Lisbon to Guimarães, then caught an overnight train from Porto down south to Praia da Rocha. By the time we got back to Lisbon, the seasons had changed and the streets were aflutter with falling leaves. I believe it was this Portugal trip that set me on a course of travel and taking photographs in foreign countries.

Destinations often are spur of the moment things, chosen at the least instance. In 2010, I went to Honfleur in Normandy, the hometown of Erik Satie where Françoise Sagan owned a villa in her later years. I also stopped by Étretat where supposedly lived master thief Arsène Lupin, a favorite fictional character from my childhood. Then in 2011 it was off to Prague, all because of one short line my great-uncle wrote in his memoir: “Visited the Jewish cemetery in Prague.” Or again, that trip to Sardinia in 2013 was set in motion because I recalled a villain in an American movie had said he was from Sardinia. Some detail one might just as easily forget lingers in the mind, only to pique a fancy to head off somewhere.

ーTamiko Nishimura “Travels and Memory”, Afterword of “Voyage”

Artist Profile


Born in 1948 in Tokyo, Nishimura graduated from Tokyo Photography College (current Tokyo Visual Arts) in 1969. Her graduation work was a photography series of Jōkyō Gekijo (Situation Theatre), forefront of the underground theatre movement led by Jūrō Kara. After her graduation, she met Daido Moriyama, Kōji Taki and Takuma Nakahira, three highly influential members of the Provoke movement. She assisted them in the darkroom from time to time up between 1969 and 1970, while she continued her personal shooting on her travels. Later in 1973, Nishimura made her debut through the first publication “Shikishima” published by Tokyo Photography College, showcasing her photographs taken from 1969 to 1972 on her journeys around Japan including Hokkaidō, Tōhoku, Hokuriku, Kantō, Kansai and Chūgoku regions. She also began to travel to Southeastern Asia and Europe in the 1980s. Nishimura’s language of expression is poetic, spiritual and deeply personal. Looking back on her career, Nishimura describes it as a sequence of journeys, and she continued photographing with her nomadic lifestyle. Her photography, revealing what is beyond a journey, is a manifold portrait of life wherever she encounters.

Her main publications are “Shikishima” (Tokyo Photography College, 1973. Reprinted by Zen Foto Gallery in 2014), “vent calmoso” (Sokyu-sha, 2005), “Existence 1968-69” (graficamag, 2011), “Eternal Chase” (graficamag, 2012), “Kittenish...” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2015), “My Journey” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2018) and “Voyage” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2019), “My Journey II. 1968–1989“ (Zen Foto Gallery, 2019), and “My Journey III. 1993-2022“ (Zen Foto Gallery, 2022). Her works are included in the collection of M+ museum (Hong Kong).

Publications & Prints