Item #6303 Shinjuku Guntoden 66/73 [signed]. Katsumi Watanabe.
Shinjuku Guntoden 66/73 [signed].

Shinjuku Guntoden 66/73 [signed].

Tokyo: Baragaho Sha, 1973. Text in Japanese. Saddle stapled in photographic wrappers. [128] pp. 5 x 7 1⁄4 in. Very good with mild foxing and edge wear at corners and spine. Item #6303

Exceedingly rare, striking photobook of the Tokyo underworld of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Katsumi Watanabe was an itinerant street photographer who made a living in the 1960s and 70s photographing the residents, workers, and lingerers of Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s famed red-light district. After taking a portrait, Watanabe would return the next night to deliver the print to his subject. Over the course of seven years, Watanabe compiled a remarkable photographic archive of the Japanese underworld: yakuza, sex workers, gay bars, freaks, dropouts, and night people. Many are group shots of people clearly having a good time under the cover of night and away from normative lines of sight. This book, published in 1973, was Watanabe’s first; he would go on to have a successful career, and an ambivalent relationship to an art world that was not eager to embrace Watanabe or the people he photographed.