The amount of work that remains trapped in Japan is the primary motivation for writing this blog. Lack of internet usage is one reason that photographs don’t leave the country, but what about when someone makes a nice website, uses readable English, but doesn’t promote it to foreign audiences? This is the case with spacecadet.jp, a very good Tinyvices clone for Japan. It’s being updated with some regularlity, but seems to have no recognition outside of Japan—and maybe not even that much inside, either. This post is only saying: visit spacecadet.jp, bookmark it, and come back again later.
If you haven’t seen it already, Ken Iseki’s blog “my new notebook” is becoming one of the best resources for information about Japanese photography culture online. Iseki-san started off writing exclusively in Japanese, but lately has posted all in English. I think there’s a great lack of information about photography in Japanese, so I kind of hope that he continues to write in both languages, although I know that can be pretty difficult.
久しぶりに日本語で書きますが、井関ケンさんのブログ「my new notebook」は本当に成長されています。井関さんは優しく日本の写真文化を紹介する。実は、日本で「写真についてブログ」というサイトはあまりない気がしますよね。だからこのブログはとても重要だと思います。井関さんは以前日本語しか書かなかったけど、最近は英語ばかり。井関さん、是非日本語を使ってください！
It’s right here: photolinks.jp.
If you have some time on your hands, and want to plumb the depths of what Japanese photography has to offer, I can’t think of a better site right now than this one. It’s kind of like a Yahoo! (circa 1996) for Japanese photography; like it says in the URL, there’s just a ton of photo links here. Clicking around the top left part of the menu will take you through the different letters of the Japanese alphabet, and from there you’re off and running.
I haven’t even dug in to this material too deeply, so please let me know in the comments if you find any good stuff.
Photolinks is also on Twitter, it’s probably not such a bad idea to click randomly on the things they’re posting.
What is the deal with so many photographers over there not bothering with internet sites? If I had to take a guess I’d say it’s maybe because of all the small self-run galleries, so photographers can potentially get exposure that way where they couldn’t in other parts of the world. Or is it Jun Abe’s policy? But it does seem kind of weird by today’s standards.
I’ll take a quick stab at answering this question. The short answer, of course, is that “there are a few reasons.” In particular…
Communication. This is a combination of the language barrier, plus a different usage of social networks (which also has to do with the language barrier). More and more Japanese photographers are starting to use Facebook, which will help, especially if they can muster the courage to post with even the most minimal level of English. Some people have websites but you can’t find (let alone read) them. It’s shocking to me how many actually really good websites are out there, and even have an English version, but haven’t made the slightest effort to promote themselves to a foreign audience! Parapera and spacecadet.jp come to mind.
No interest, or awareness of reaching an online audience. A lot can actually be accomplished without a website here, just by meeting people. I don’t think it’s viewed as particularly unprofessional to not have a website, either. Apart from that, I think a lot of people might have never even considered reaching an audience outside of Japan. Whether this is a kind of psychological, self-defeating attitude or just simply not caring, I’m not sure. It’s strange to think of in today’s Tumblrized world, but I don’t know of too many Japanese photo students who have a good website. (I’m starting to look harder.)
The Japanese internet is different than the Western internet. Technically, of course, this is not true, but many people point to the fast development of cell phone technology in Japan as a reason that the terrestrial internet has lagged behind. Basically this story goes that, because Japanese people could surf a miniaturized version of the internet on their cellphones in the mid-90s, the development of the full-screen web experience was stunted. Compare the websites of Japan’s Bic Camera with B&H and you can see this in practice.
I’m sure there are some others, and this is a huge question which I can already see branching out to include other topics like social networks, etc. In any case, it’s definitely not a “policy” of Abe’s, I’m guessing the thought of creating a website has literally never crossed his mind. If I think of more stuff I’ll add it here, if anyone has any other thoughts let me know.