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.
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