This Complete Edition of “Goze” includes previously unpublished photographs and offers an unprecedented view at Shoko Hashimoto’s masterful series from the 1970s, newly selected, edited and scanned from over 10,000 original negatives by Michitaka Ota, founder of publisher Sokyusha.
From spring 1972 until summer 1973, Shoko Hashimoto traveled around Niigata Prefecture together with a group of goze, blind women entertainers who performed and told stories in exchange for food and shelter. Today, there are no longer goze traveling around. Life was already difficult for the goze in the 1970s, and the continuing industrial, economic and urban developments of postwar Japan have only accelerated since then. Hashimoto’s astonishing photographs document the life of these women. We see them taking baths, relaxing on the floor, sleeping at night, and endlessly roaming from village to village. Hashimoto’s distinct style, which renders the scenes with an almost painterly quality, knows which parts to emphasize: in landscape shots, the scenery appears to almost swallow the women; when faces are involved, the emotions are vivid.
In addition to previously unpublished photographs, this Complete Edition also includes Shoko Hashimoto’s diary from his time with the goze, available in Japanese and in English translation.
Born in Ishinomaki in 1939, Hashimoto graduated from Nihon University, College of Art in 1964 specializing in photography. In 1974, he received the Newcomer Award from the Photographic Society of Japan with his photobook “Goze” (Nora-sha). In the same year, the series was selected in the “15 Photographers” exhibition at Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art. Hashimoto photographed Lee Dynasty folk paintings in Korea from 1979 to 1981, published in the book series Minga of the Lee Dynasty in 1982. Since 2011, he has been regularly returning to photograph his hometown, Ishinomaki, which was devastated by the tsunami.