Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present “SHINING WOMAN #cancerbeauty”, an exhibition by Hideka Tonomura from Oct 23 to Nov 21. This exhibition marks Hideka’s 4th solo presentation with Zen Foto Gallery, after her exhibition “die of love” in 2018. Having experienced cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment herself in 2019, Tonomura witnessed how there are many women who are bravely fighting against cancer in their lives. Deeply inspired and impressed by their radiance, Tonomura started the portrait project for these powerful women. This exhibition will feature approximately 40 prints under 3 different categories: “Portraits of Life”, “Proof of Life” and “Portraits of the Soul”. In conjunction with the exhibition, Zen Foto Gallery will publish a photobook under the same title “SHINING WOMAN #cancerbeauty”. We sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to view this powerful work.

I used to “photograph to live”, but now I “live to photograph”.
Everyone is struggling with their own problems.
Everyone is a survivor in their own life.

It is my greatest wish for you to look at these “Portraits of Life”, “Proof of Life” and “Portraits of the Soul” and I hope that they will touch your heart.

Today’s me is tomorrow’s you.
Tomorrow’s you and someone’s today.

SHINING WOMAN #cancerbeauty

For women, losing their womb, ovaries, breasts, and hair is extremely depressing.

Feelings of despair and madness.

Young women who dream of giving birth.
Women who are receiving infertility treatment.

Due to their cancer, they are not only losing their uterus, ovaries, and breasts but are also simultaneously losing their dream of having their own child.

The fear of losing their female organs brings a premonition of death to their femininity.
It feels like hell for them to accept such fears.

Nevertheless, women still put on lipstick, nice clothes, and wigs, and head out to their battlefield—the outside world.

Verbal abuse and prejudice.
Unawareness can be truly horrifying.

Disappointed in myself for hating people who use mean words,
while I myself may unconsciously have used mean words as well.

It can happen to me as a woman, and to men, to their loved ones.

I want to change how people perceive female illnesses and cancer patients.

I want the world to become a place where women can live more comfortably so that they can continue to treasure their everyday life and feel free to go outside, without having to experience any verbal abuse just because they have lost their breasts, wombs, ovaries, and hair.

Femininity is not determined by one’s body parts. Everything is a testament to choosing to live.

Women can always turn despair into strength and continue to let their beauty shine out.

The true meaning of shining lies in the power with which we fight for our lives.

Women who dream to see their children grow up.
Women who dream to become an adult and fall in love.

Any case.
The essence of life is always beautiful.

All women are shining.

― Hideka Tonomura

Artist Profile


Born in 1979, Hideka Tonomura graduated from the Broadcasting and Filmmaking Department of Osaka Visual Arts School and began photography in 2002. She published her first photobook “Mama Love” in 2008 with Akaaka Art Publishing, revealing her deepest pain and the dark, hidden secrets of her family, which made an unforgettable impression on the public. In 2013 she published “They Called Me Yukari” with Zen Foto Gallery, in which she documented the life and people around her when she worked as a hostess in Kabukicho, Shinjuku. Her other publications include “Orange Elephant” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2015), “cheki” (Morel Books, 2018), “Die of Love” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2018), “SHINING WOMAN #cancerbeauty” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2020), “mama 恋 love” [New Edition] (Zen Foto Gallery, 2021) and “Toxic” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2022).

Actively presenting her work in and out of Japan, her major solo exhibitions include “Unlucky Family”, Nikon Salon, Tokyo and Osaka (2004); “Tonomura Hideka Shageki –0305–”, Uplink, Tokyo (2005); “Viva Hostess’s Life”, Club Ginko, Tokyo (2007); “mama 恋 love”, Trunk Gallery 81, Seoul (2011); “They called me Yukari / mama 恋 love”, Zen Foto Gallery (2013); “orange elephant”, Zen Foto Gallery, Tokyo and Galeria About Art, Spain (2016); “die of love”, Zen Foto Gallery (2018); “SHINING WOMAN #cancerbeauty”, Zen Foto Gallery (2020) and Okayama Gender Equality Promotion Center, Okayama (2021); “Shining Woman Project at Kyotographie 2022” (2022); and “Love”, Zen Foto Gallery (2022). Her major group exhibitions include “Shikijo: Eroticism in Japanese Photography”, Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong (2016); Daiwa Foundation Japan House Gallery, London (2018); “10/10 Celebrating Contemporary Japanese Women Photographers”, Kyotographie (2022) and “Love Songs”, Maison Européenne de la Photographie (2022).

Tonomura launched the “SHINING WOMAN PROJECT” in 2019, a portrait project dedicated to women fighting cancer. In 2022, her debut work “Mama Love” was collected by the MEP – La Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris.

Publications & Prints