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Ikko Narahara, born 1931 in Fukuoka, Japan, is a lawyer by profession. But he was deeply interested in art; specifically Nara’s famed Buddha statues, that he decided to take a master’s degree in art history from the Waseda University.
In 1956, he set up his first photo exhibit entitled “Ningen no tochi,” or Human Land in English. The show, which was held in Ginza’s Matsushima Gallery, featured portraits of the Kurokamimura village. This exhibit immediately catapulted him to fame. He followed it up with “Domains,” which showed snapshots of a Trappist monastery in Hokkaido and a women’s jail in Wakayama.
Narahara went on to live in New York for four years. There, he attended classes by renowned photographer Diane Arbus.
Narahara doted on using fish-eye lenses and wide-angle lenses. With these devices he shot images of far-flung communities and extreme living conditions.
In 1967, his work on iconic portraits was recognized. After he published the photo book “Yōroppa: teishi shita jikan” (Where time has stopped) he was given the Photographer of the Year Award by the Japan Photo Critics Association.
Narahara’s last works “Mukokuseki-chi,” “Jikū no kagami,” and “En” were all published in 2004. Although he has stopped making photo books, he is still regarded as one of the best Japanese photographers of all time.