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In 1854, Japan’s doors opened to people and export from different countries. During this time, photography was just invented – and it became a new passion for many artistic Japanese, such as Kanbei Hanaya. Born in 1931, Hanaya’s photos of Old Japan are considered as ‘time capsules’ – a glimpse of what Japan used to be before the war, the technology, and the future.
Hanaya was born in Osaka, but he decided to establish a studio in nearby Ashiya in the Hyogo Prefecture. There, he founded the Ashiya Camera Club in 1930, which is an avant-garde photography group. Hanaya was inspired by the arts of Moholy Nagy and Man Ray. In his pictures, he employed a photography technique called “Shinko Sashin.” His pictures – which featured montages – were shot with double exposure and slow shutter speeds.
His most famous photos are ‘Light ABC’ and ‘Two Sisters,’ which featured his two daughters. Hanaya’s portraits were also featured in the photo book “A Collection of Japanese Photographs 1912-1940.” The 100-page compilation features a handful of monochromatic shots, with a couple of colored portraits.
Hanaya’s ferrotyped prints, which he made in the 1970’s, are now in display at the Ashiya City Museum. Even after two decades after his death, he is considered as one of the most influential avant-garde photographers of all time.