For the 1982 photobook “Dear Old Days”, a young Ryoji Akiyama visited China – coinciding with the ten year anniversary of the normalization of Chinese-Japanese relations – and photographed Chinese children in various parts of the country. Akiyama portrayed the children within the boundaries of play to capture them from an intimate distance. The book was a stellar example of Akiyama’s sharp observation and photographic sensibilities. Its reprint published by Seisodo garnered huge attention both in China and Japan in 2019.
The second volume consists of 122 previously unpublished photographs selected from the more than 8,000 original images. While also reveling in a positive nostalgia for the “dear old days”, the photographs live off Akiyama’s acute artistic sensibilities and the close distance to his subjects. His images capture the historic and social conditions of the era as much as the individuality hiding behind each child’s face.
The third and final volume of the series features 119 photographs and focuses not only on the children themselves but also on their backgrounds, on objects and on people that remind the nostalgic reader of the life at the time. In difference to the previous books, Akiyama this time focuses more on the long time that has passed between now and when the photographs were originally taken, for example by including photographs that have been irreversibly damaged by mold.