“The trees are exquisite in Japan”


Werner Bischof (1916-1954), [The Silver Pavilion, Kyoto], 1952 (925.1974)


Werner Bischof (1916-1954), [Shinto priests in courtyard of Meiji Shrine, Tokyo], 1951 (876.1974)


Werner Bischof (1916-1954), [“Magic flowers” on the Ginza, Tokyo], 1951 (915.1974)


Werner Bischof (1916-1954), [World War Two veteran, the Ginza, Tokyo], 1951 (877.1974)


Werner Bischof (1916-1954), [Tea ceremony, Kyoto], 1952 (937.1974)

Werner Bischof (born on April 26, 1916 in Zürich, Switzerland and died on May 16, 1954, in a car accident near Trujillo, Peru, in the Andes) enjoyed a productive and fruitful time in Japan between 1951 and 1952, a country that he clearly loved; some of his photos made in Japan were published in a book called: Japan (1954). Perhaps the traditions and nascent modernization of post-war Japan offered a taste of nirvana for Bischof who had recently photographed famine in post-partition India and was currently documenting the poverty and displacement in the warring Koreas.

Kyoto, September 30th, 1951. Kyoto, Japan’s old and only undamaged city. What I have seen in the last days was so condensed it could fill a book. From the enchanting silver pavilion to the imaginary lake of moss and the moss waterfall, a wild garden that once belonged to japan’s most famous painter, hidden Buddhas overgrown with plants, little tea houses in enchanting landscapes and stone basins for washing hands [] a thousand wonders []
The trees are exquisite in Japan. You know the poems that tell of the wind blowing through trees and the leaves.
In the centre of the capital, with its ever increasing bustle, I have discovered some tree shapes of breathtaking beauty and have drawn them for you. I cannot believe that these people will ever stop venerating nature, that a time will come when they no longer shelter trees and flowers in their houses as symbols of what is noble and pure. (W.B., letter to Rosellina [his wife].)
Werner Bischof, 1916-1954, Edited by Marco Bischof and Rene Buri, 1990


Erich Hartmann, Werner Bischof, New York, 1954 (icp.3729)

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One Response to “The trees are exquisite in Japan”

  1. They are indeed. I have been to Fukuoka and Osaka. 2 x in my life. Blessings, Emma

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