PPP EDITIONS/ANDREW ROTH INC., NEW YORK
Watanabe Katsumi: Gangs of Kabukicho
Text by Iizawa Kotaro.
The subjects of itinerant Tokyo portrait photographer Watanabe Katsumi's 1960s and 70s photographs are the prostitutes, street people, drag queens, entertainers and gangsters (Yakuza) that populated Kabukicho, the red-light district of Shinjuku, at night during that era. Watanabe made his living by selling these photographs to his subjects, offering three prints for 200 yen. A modest gentleman, Watanabe had a keen sensitivity to the natural posturing of his subjects, which allowed them to uninhibitedly reveal their identities. He saw Kabukicho as a stage, and his photographs document the performers. To accompany the photographs collected in this volume, which borrows its title from Watanabe's first book, The Gangs of Shinjuku, published in 1973, Iizawa Kotaro, who wrote the noted essay "The Evolution of Postwar Photography," in Anne Tucker's essential study, The History of Japanese Photography, chronicles the history of Shinjuku and offers a biography of Watanabe, who died last year at the age of 67.