Japanese photographer Hiroji Kubota's travels throughout the United States to portray the beauty and enormous range of characters in this vast country
"I love beautiful things, and I want to make pictures that lift people's spirits. I see the giving and receiving of photographs as something beautiful and personal"
- Hiroji Kubota
During a visit by Magnum members to Japan in 1961, Hiroji Kubota came to know René Burri, Burt Glinn and Elliott Erwitt. After graduating in political science from Tokyo’s University of Waseda in 1962, Kubota moved to the US, settling in Chicago, where he continued photographing while supporting himself by working in a Japanese catering business.
He became a freelance photographer in 1965, and his first assignment for the UK newspaper The Times was to Jackson Pollock’s grave in East Hampton. In 1968, Kubota returned to live in Japan, where his work was recognized with a Publishing Culture Award from Kodansha in 1970. The next year he became a Magnum associate.
Kubota witnessed the fall of Saigon in 1975, refocusing his attention on Asia. It took him several years to get permission to photograph in China. Finally, between 1979 and 1984, Kubota embarked on a 1,000-day tour, during which he made more than 200,000 photographs. The book and exhibit, China, appeared in 1985.
Kubota’s awards in Japan include the Nendo Sho (Annual Award) of the Japanese Photographic Society (1982), and the Mainichi Art Prize (1983). He has photographed most of the Asian continent for his book Out of the East, published in 1997, which led to a two-year project, in turn resulting in the book Can We Feed Ourselves?
Kubota has had solo shows in Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, New York, Washington, Rome, London, Vienna, Paris and many other cities. He has just completed Japan, a book on his homeland and the country where he continues to be based.