Jesse’s Book Review – Ichi No Hi by Haruna Sato


by Bellamy /

4 min read

Jesse’s book review, Ichi No Hi by Haruna Sato
Jesse shares with us a book from a series that I have been looking at lately. Being in Tokyo I am familiar with Sato san’s work and it is cool that Jesse has done a review of her latest piece for us. Check it out.

Ichi no Hi is an interesting one. Featured here is actually the fourth part of Haruna Sato’s ongoing series. The project initially started February 1st 2011 and is a collection of photographs taken on the first of every month with an accompanying antidote about that day. I had met her a few times at Totem Pole Gallery and with her she always has a point-and-shoot film camera and usually a promotional card for her exhibition as she has them quite regularly at the now defunct Gallery Kaido (that she was a member of). Gallery Kaido, like Totem Pole and so many other galleries in Tokyo, is a photographer’s gallery ran and maintained by the members themselves that will occasionally host outside photographers upon approval and payment.


Appropriately she uses the time date function on her camera in all of the photos and in doing so offers one of the more original applications of this feature as most just do it for reasons akin to nostalgia. With this, the book flow begins from either the annual or bi annual period in which the photos were taken. Each month begins with the year and date and a few sentences of her thoughts that usually correspond with the photos. There are roughly about five photos for each month so in a yearly edition of her book about 60 photos in all.


Sensitivity is the defining adjective flipping through the pages. From the first photo of a night shot of a bridge she walks by everyday, she states the subtle difference of the smoke rising from a construction site that compelled her to shoot it. From this description you can understand a bit about the sensitivity to the everyday that makes up her body of work. Some of the writings are a bit more personal and the photos reflect her moods while at times more playful. For me and in what I have gathered from here in the few occasions of meeting her is a slight sense of loneliness. Most of the photos are at a distance from her subjects and more often than not, have barriers between her and the subjects, i.e. windows, Venetian blinds, etc. These people are all going about their lives, a kid to karate class or a businessman to work, while she seems to observe from a fixed position either above of faraway lost her in own thoughts.


I appreciated the wit in terms of editing. For instance, if you live in Japan you know September is the height of typhoon season that often features a day that in the morning has 40KPH winds and heavy rain and sunshine by 2pm. On September 1st there is a little girl running through a storm with her umbrella juxtaposed on the adjacent page of an aerial view of a street that has a few bikes knocked over and some street cones. This is all subtle and the antidote to the month is specifically on a previous photo that simply says, “I forgot what else I ate.” I like books that don’t over explain that in effect reward a reader’s own sensitivity. It makes photo books better to go back and look at because often you miss things like these the first time and are rewarded with each new viewing because you can perceive something you hadn’t before.


I picked up this book at her last exhibition. This volume in particular I was quite impressed with as the quality and content just surpasses the low price of 10 USD. The previous 3 were more zine like in their quality yet priced accordingly at 5 USD. Like Arimoto, the two virtually sell these at the price of production, which means they are simply making them out of love…so why not support? They can easily be purchased from the photographer herself here.


Jesse Freeman is a friend, photographer and movie buff. He has a great knowledge of photography books and classic cinema. He can also be relied upon for decent music recommendations.
You can more of his work and passions at the following places:

Want to read Jesse’s other great reviews? Then click here to go to the archives.


4 comments on “Jesse’s Book Review – Ichi No Hi by Haruna Sato”

    Jiim Clinefelter April 1, 2015 at 11:36 am / Reply

    Thanks for reviewing Sato-san’s books, Jesse. I always look forward
    to your reviews! Keep up the great work.

      Jesse Freeman April 6, 2015 at 7:11 pm /

      Glad you liked it and thank you for checking them out!

    Coffee April 16, 2015 at 8:08 pm / Reply

    A pleasure to read your review as always. I have ordered and received various books from Sato-san and they are delightful.

    Jonathan April 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm / Reply

    I always enjoy Jesse’s book reviews which provide a welcome window into another world that’s largely unknown to me. This review was particularly thought provoking, made more sense to me on a second reading, and left me wanting to hear more of Jesse’s thoughts on Orientalism in the context of taking photographs in Japan. It might also be interesting to draw parallels with Japanese photographers taking photographs in other countries. Perhaps another article?

    On another point, while I can understand that conflict can occur when one’s own cultural interpretations are imposed on another culture, I’m not entirely convinced by the labeling of ‘Orientalism’ in the context of ‘Shoot Tokyo’. I’ve always understood that Orientalism includes the implicit and egregious assumption that a Western mode of understanding is somehow superior but I didn’t get this impression from what I’ve seen of David Powell’s photographs. I’m happy to be corrected though!

    Cheers, JVS

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