I took these photographs for my regular series “Walking with Leica” in “Nippon Camera” during 2005-2013.

After reaching the age of 60 I became less inclined to venture far to take photographs. Noticing for the first time my physical decline, I began to see things that I had not been able to see when I was young. I determined to walk the streets and take photographs near where I had lived for the past 30 years. This was my thinking as I started the series for the photography magazine. I did not intend to undertake the long journeys with a camera that I had made in my younger days.

On 11th March 2011 I was taking photographs as I always do, when I was shaken by the biggest earthquake I have ever experienced. Shelves of books and crockery were tipped over and windows smashed in my house in Funabashi, Chiba, leaving it in chaos. I switched on the television to learn of a great earthquake off the coast of Miyagi and of a huge tsunami. Affected areas shown on the emergency broadcast included Hachinohe in Aomori, the Sanriku coast of Iwate, Ishinomaki in Miyagi and Minamisoma in Fukushima. I remembered visiting and photographing villages all along these coastlines on many occasions during the past forty years. The faces of those kind people whom I had photographed there were as if imprinted on my vision.

Although I was averse to travelling far, I wanted to see the disaster region with my own eyes, and so I set out again. I was able to recognize some places from previous visits, but many more left me speechless as I gazed at the scenes of desolation.

As I walked through these villages where everything had been washed away, including houses and sea walls, there were traces to indicate where once had been a road. People had started to walk again on these traces, reforming a path on top of the original. It was as if the road had a life of its own.

I have taken countless photographs on roads that have been trodden by people over many ages. These roads become superimposed on the roads I see in the disaster region, and these also seem overlaid with the road from Anshan along which my family fled as refugees.

ーKazuo Kitai

Artist Profile


Kazuo Kitai, born in China in 1944, is best known for his protest photography of the 1960s and 1970s. He earned the prestigious Ihei Kimura Memorial Award for Photography for his work “Mura-e”, a year-long documentation of Japan’s rural life. In the 1980s, he concerned himself with the citizens of Osaka and Tokyo (”Shinsekai Monogatari”, “Funabashi Monogatari”). Recent years have seen him publish a regular column in Nippon Camera magazine (”Walking with Leica”) as well as a rise of public interest in his work both in Japan and overseas.

Publications & Prints