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Friday, Sept. 5, 2008

Exhibit offers glimpse of postwar Japan life

'Showa Japan Seen Through Dutch Eyes'

An exhibition of photos from Japan's postwar era taken by two young men from Holland is being held in Tokyo until Sept. 30.

News photo
Vintage view: People walk along Kiyomizuzaka Street in Kyoto in this photo from 1953. This photo and others from Japan's postwar era taken by two young men from Holland is being held in Tokyo until Sept. 30. HANS BRINCKMANN

The exhibition "Showa Japan Seen Through Dutch Eyes" is being staged by the Japan-Netherlands Society to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The photographs were taken during the early postwar period of the reign of Emperor Hirohito from 1926-88, who is known posthumously as Emperor Showa. One of the two Dutch lensmen was Hans Brinckmann, born in The Hague. He joined a Dutch bank and was assigned to its Kobe branch in 1950 at age 18. Japan was then still in the midst of recovery from the devastation of World War II, which had only ended five years before.

In 1955, a fellow countryman, Ysbrand Rogge, was sent to work at the same branch. Brinckmann and Rogge became fascinated with Japanese life and culture, and used their holidays to travel around the nation, capturing images of ordinary people at work and play, as well as of scenery. They also took pictures of traditional arts, festivals, religious ceremonies and such events as the mass demonstrations against the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty in the 1960s.

This exhibition presents a selection of the photos taken by the two Europeans of a period in Japan's history that is now in danger of being forgotten by Japanese themselves.

In Japan, photographic techniques and equipment were originally imported from the Netherlands. The exhibition includes a display of several archived documents and photographs testifying to this fact.

The exhibition is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Photo Is Gallery on the 1st floor of Fujifilm Square in the Tokyo Midtown West complex in Roppongi. Tokyo Midtown is directly connected to Exit 8 of Roppongi Station on the Oedo and Hibiya subway lines. The complex is also a 3-minute walk from Nogizaka Station on the Chiyoda subway line. Admission is free.

For more information, visit the Fujifilm Square Web site at fujifilmsquare.jp or call the gallery at (03) 6271-3350.

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