Kazuma Obara





»Essay/Book Review





The project “silent histories(2014)” gave me an opportunity to think about long lasting effects of WWII. Since 2014, I started thinking “Silent Histories Project” as my lifelong project. Last year in 2017, I set up my mile stone that visiting all related countries and regions where Japanese imperial army invaded during WWII and find those effects of war through individual stories which are not told as main stream narrative of each countries. I have visited Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, UK and The Netherlands so far and will extend my research more and more.

In this second year of this project, I am going to publish three different handmade photobooks as “Showa Diary series”. And now «Supporters Special Edition» is available to pre-order.

This series of photobooks includes “silent histories”, “Bikini Diaries” and ongoing project “A stolen Father”. “silent histories” was already published in 2015 by Editorial RM, but I would like to add this book as one of the series in same format. So I re-edit for this series. The photo book “Bikini Diaries” was initially made for the exhibition purpose in France, 2016. 2 copies of this handmade photobook were only existed in the world and I re-edit for this series. And this pre-order will help to bring 3rd books “A Stolen Father” that I am currently working on. The detail will be appeared later.

Those three books will be sent different period depends on edition number. (It will take couple of weeks to make each handmade book, so that I set different time schedule in each edition number). The name of person who pre-order this Supporters Special Edition will be appeared on the last page of Special thanks in each book.

The other small edition photobooks will be released randomly during my project for several years. I am going to publish industrial edition after finishing all my long journey. This handmade series of “Showa Diary” will continue in same format in next year.


«Shōwa Diary series 1, 2, 3 with Box / Supporters Special Edition(Edition 10)»

Book Size/ 5 x 7 inch
Paper/ Japanese rice paper (Awagami Factory), Laser Print
Binding/ Accordion
Language/ English
Design and book binding by Kazuma Obara


//Pre Order | Shōwa Diary series 1, 2, 3 with Box / Supporters Special English Edition(Edition 10)//
Price 74,000 JPY + all shopping cost 4,000 JPY (Your edition number will be informed later.)

Thank you very much. Now it’s all pre-orederd.

*The Video captures current dummy images. Book Binding and Format are same. But finale layout should be slightly changed.
This box set includes handmade photobook “Silent Histories”, “Bikini Diaries”, “A Stolen Father” and original Post card. Each book will be shipped separately by edition number (See shipping schedule below. ) The box will be sent with A Stolen Father at the end.


//Shipping Schedule//
«Silent Histories»
Edition no.1-3 dispatch in July 2018
Edition no.4-7 dispatch in August 2018
Edition no.8-10 dispatch in September 2018


«Bikini Diaries»
Edition no.1-3 dispatch in October 2018
Edition no.4-7 dispatch in November 2018
Edition no.8-10 dispatch in December 2018


«A Stolen Father with box»
Edition no.1-3 dispatch in January 2019
Edition no.4-7 dispatch in February 2019
Edition no.8-10 dispatch in March 2019



About the books “Showa Diariy(1,2,3)”


«The title “Showa Diaries”»
The title “Show Diary” comes from a title of confidential document in Japan. In 1945, Japanese government decided to burn all confidential documents before GHQ land. But one of the important documents “戦争機密日誌(War confidential dairy)” was concealed by an commissioned officer Mr. Nakane. The title of this documents was obviously “confidential”, so that he removed cover page and put another title on second page. That title was “昭和日記(Showa Diary)”. (Shōwa refers to the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926 until his death on January 7, 1989) The documents were not detected by GHQ and this documents were revealed in 1950’s. The documents have been helping a lot to understand context of Japanese invasion. The politics always try to conceal something but some fragments are still there.



«Accordion Book»
This accordion binding style is very common on “Goshuin-cho” in Japan. “Goshuin” is a red color stamp given at a temple or a shrine as the proof of visiting. And “Goshuin-cho” is a special book for keeping those stamps. We, Japanese visit a shrine and a temple mainly for pray and collect those stamps. In my research process, I recognised that some victims don’t have their own place to be prayed, though Japan has many war memorial statue to pray for Japanese victims. Mostly those monument are built in Temple or shrine. My trip, tracing and documenting the memory of those minority victims is like making the evidence of their existence and make a place to pray. I felt like my journey is making my own “Goshuin-cho” to remember each places and victims to pray.



«Book Cover»
I use different cloths on front cover and back cover. For example, In silent histories, front cover is made by children’s cloth(Kimono: traditional Japanese cloth) which from war period. Back cover’s cloths are provided from victims of War. Many children who became handicapped person by the U.S. bombing worked as dressmaker for a long time to avoid problems with non-handicapped person. Right after being handicapped person, those children faced huge social discrimination and it continued after they become adult. They didn’t need to work outside, if they choose a dressmaking job. They kindly provided the cloths that they used in their job.
I will apply same idea on second and third books.



«First Book “Showa Diary(1)/Silent Histories”»


Silent Histories is a testimony to the tragedy of indiscriminate bombing by US forces during the War in the Pacific, which killed 330,000 Japanese and in-jured 430,000 more. The figures are imposing: some 9.7 million left homeless and more than 2.23 million homes destroyed in more than 200 different cities. In the midst of this enormous destruction, many children were orphaned in an instant or suffered burning or mutilations that marked them for life.

Japan achieved its economic recovery in the wake of wartime devastation. This remarkable growth has been dubbed the “Japanese economic miracle.” In spite of this unprecedented prosperity, however, children with war injuries have been forced to live harsh lives, unable to cure their wounds. They have lived in the shadows, concealing their pain, hiding their scars, and sparing others the discomfort of seeing them.



«Second Book “Showa Diary(2)/Bikini Diaries”»


A documentary project “Bikini Diaries” depicts invisible victims of Bikini nuclear testing in 1954. 9 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, approximately 10,000 Japanese fisherman were exposed by nuclear explosion which was caused by the US government in Bikini Atoll. However, modern Japanese history had only recognised 26 fishermen as the victim of nuclear explosion who were crew of Daigo Fukuryu Maru(Lucky Dragon) and first landed Tokyo bay until very recently.

The crew of Daigo Fukuryu Maru was front page of Japanese main newspaper and Japanese media reported their health condition everyday. Many suffered acute radiation damage and radio operator Mr. Kuboyama died 6 months after the nuclear testing. At the same time, food contamination by radiation(especially fish) became main concern in Japan. The rain included radio active elements fall to Japan and those situations caused huge anti-nuclear demonstration as well as anti-U.S. movement in mid 50’s. Japanese government recognised those 10,000 victims but ignored them not to pay more attention to this issue.

In 1955, under the circumstances of the Cold War and anti U.S. movement, Japanese and American governments launched a huge pro-nuclear energy campaign which included, ironically, a pro-nuclear exhibition in the Peace Museum in Hiroshima in 1956, the museum founded to commemorate the victims of the first nuclear bomb ever used, in 1945. All exhibition about tragedy of atomic bomb was replaced by advanced technology of nuclear industry. This exhibition had traveled main part of Japan for 2 years. More than 2 million had visited the exhibition. U.S. and Japanese government paid compensation for those 26 fishermen and gave specific health care, though the others didn’t get any compensation. Huge anti-movement had shrunk slowly but surely.

Most of those 10,000 fisherman had kept silent to avoid social discrimination as HIBAKUSHA. And they had to work, because consumption of fish in Japan decreased rapidly after nuclear testing. Some went back to Bikini Island for fishing and exposed by radiation again indirectly through the environment after the test.

In 2014, some confidential documents which were already disclosed in early 90’s were shed light on by Japanese media and existence of those 10, 000 fisherman were revealed. Obara researched the family of those victims in 2016 and attempted to trace the memories of one of the unspoken tragedy through fisherman’s daughter story.

Obara used the old camera(RICHO FLEX) which was purchased in 1955 by the fisherman(the father). The lens was covered with mold and broken. Obara fixed this camera but didn’t clean up the lens. This lens created main images of this project and Obara traced his footsteps with his camera. Those whitish images are also reminded him “cataracts” which was one of main symptoms of those fisherman who were exposed by radiation.

He acquired family photos, documents from the period, and documentation from the Pro Nuclear Energy Fair in Hiroshima. These elements are combined to form a unique and in-depth research into the long-lasting effects of nuclear radiation.

The project was supported by Festival Photoreporter(France) in 2016 and exhibited at Festival Photoreporter, Saint-Brieuc, France in 2016,



«Third Book”Showa Diary(3)/A Stolen Father” (On going Project)»


Focusing on children of soldiers in each country. Finding the lasting effects of absent of father.

In Korea, I tried to visualise the story of “Korean Guard”.
Koreans who were forced to work as non-combatant Japanese soldiers(so called “Korean Guard”) to supervise the slave labour of Allied POWs and who were sentenced to death or imprisoned by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, but were subsequently denied Japanese nationality or any support or compensation from Japanese government after Japan re-engaged with the international community.
More than 3,000 Koreans sent to the frontline of slave labouring place and faced Allied POWs. Korean or Taiwanese played a role to watched out Allied POWs. The percentage to be sentenced BC criminal was quite high within Korean guard who are taught Japanese punishment style by the army. Their families were thought as pro-Japanese people and faced social discrimination in Korea. The family was struggling to survive without father.

The story will be combined with children of Allied POWs in UK, Australia and The Netherlands as well as local slave labours in Burma, Malaysia.

Link:  http://www.festival-photoreporter.fr/en/kazuma-obara-2/


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