Adrian Jing Song: Thank you so much for your time, Yoshikatsu. I’m a huge fan of your work. I’d love to know what attracted you to photography, and whether there was a particular moment that impacted the way you thought about making pictures?

Yoshikatsu Fujii: As a matter of fact, it was not a positive moment that got me started in photography. I studied experimental film at an art college in Tokyo, and after graduation I started working for a video production company. As I had expected, it was very demanding and I would return home late at night or early in the morning every day. It was common for me to sleep over at the company for two weeks at a time. I was exhausted both physically and mentally, and I was also harassed by unpaid salaries, so I had to quit the company after less than a year.

For a while, I didn't even feel the urge to produce anything. However, after a few years, I became frustrated and felt the need to do something. Then I remembered a video work I did as a student that used photographs. I thought that with photography, I might be able to create something on my own without having to worry about disturbing others. With this in mind, I decided to participate in a photography workshop.

AS: As of right now, you’re preparing for an exhibition concerning your project, Nagi. This work is based on your obsession with photographing the ocean, which I understand is linked to your relationship with your grandfather?

YF: “Why was I so obsessed with photographing the ocean?"

I started Nagi to solve this question. I grew up by the ocean, and I remember many scenes from my childhood and teenage years. I remember the nothingness.

It was later on, when reviewing all the negative film and prints I had collected of the sea, that my grandfather came to mind. He had confessed to me that he had made human torpedoes in the Navy. However, this memory was from my childhood, and the rest of my family had never even heard of this. Why me and not any other family member? Was my grandfather really building human torpedoes? And if this was true, how did he feel about this?

Though my grandfather has already passed away, I continued to research and think about this, so this work is my own interpretation of his work. However, I think it’s important to bring to light, even if only a little, the fact that a terrible weapon called the human torpedo was made. That is what I hope to present more clearly in the sequel to Nagi.

AS: That is quite incredible, that you were able to trace your fascination with the ocean to this particular memory. Has doing this research changed the way you remember your grandfather?

YF: I was not a fan of my paternal grandparents, who are the protagonists of my previous work, Hiroshima Graph -Everlasting Flow and Nagi. I am not sure why. However, by listening to and researching their experiences, I was able to spend a lot of time thinking about their feelings during that time. By doing so, I was able to understand that even their casual behavior was an act of love.

AS: You also mentioned something really interesting, that Nagi moves in between historical fact and memory.

YF: Yes, it was a new challenge for me because I wasn’t able to use the same method as in the Hiroshima Graph series, which was to research and construct a work based on facts that had already been determined. In fact, it was difficult to summarize the work as a piece of art. So, I decided to divide the work into two parts. Nagi is an introduction to the main topic, which is my grandfather's wartime life. I kept asking myself, “How can I express a very vague but very important history?” So, among the ocean photographs, I collected only those that were not originally used, such as shots that were not developed properly, out-of-focus shots, and scraps of film. Then, in between the photos, I completed the format by inserting memories of my grandfather and myself, as well as his biography.

AS: Yes, and the way you integrate these visual elements into the format of a book is also really inspiring. I’ve encountered your photobooks on a few occasions, and they are always special experiences. I especially loved the choice of sandpaper for the cover of Hiroshima Graph - Everlasting Flow. I’d love to know more about your process when it comes to making a book.

YF: The cover of each book is actually the most difficult part of the process, and it is probably the part that I go through the most trial-and-error until the very end. When I begin making a photo book, it starts out as just a bunch of photos. If I have an idea, I don't just process it in my head, instead, I always create a physical dummy book. It’s through working with my hands to create something tangible, that I find areas for improvement and new ideas.

AS: On the subject of photobooks, what are your favourite photobooks at the moment?

YF: BEES by Zhe Chen. Becoming Simone by Alessia Bernardini. Memorabilia by Gábor Arion Kudász. Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation by Mathieu Asselin. These photobooks always inspire me. I discover something new, and am inspired, each time I read them.

AS: I am excited to check out those books! Thank you so much for your time, Yoshikatsu. What keeps you occupied daily, and what do you have planned for the future?

YF: I work, exercise at the gym, and offer bookbinding and photography workshops at a local bookstore. I am also working on a photo book sequel to Nagi. In the future, I am also planning to move my base to Tokyo again.


Yoshikatsu Fujii is a photo-based visual storyteller working on long-form projects about memory, family, contemporary events, and history.

His main medium is a hand-made limited edition photobook. His books have been nominated for the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards 2014, won the Self Publishing PHOTOLUX Award 2015, and won the Anamorphosis Prize 21018. The books are owned by several museums and university libraries, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York Library, National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum London.

Since moving to his hometown of Hiroshima in 2015, he has been creating works on the theme of the history of war in Hiroshima from his own perspective as a third-generation A-bomb survivor.

His works were exhibited at Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography (Bangladesh, 2017), Phantom Pain Clinic (Jimei × Arles International Photo Festival, China, 2017), To Infinity and Beyond (BredaPhoto Festival, Netherlands, 2018), Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography (PHOTO 2021, Australia, 2021), KG+ SELECT(Japan, 2021), etc.


少部数限定の手製本による写真集を主な発表媒体とし、2014年パリフォト・アパチャー財団写真集賞ノミネート、2015年Self Publishing PHOTOLUX Award受賞、2018年The Anamorphosis Prize受賞。ニューヨーク近代美術館(MoMA)図書館やヴィクトリア&アルバート博物館をはじめ、各国の美術館や大学図書館に収蔵されている。

主な写真展にチョビメラ国際フォトフェスティバル(バングラデシュ, 2017年)、ジメイ・アルル国際フォトフェスティバル「Phantom Pain Clinic」 (中国, 2017年)、ブレダ・フォトフェスティバル「To Infinity and Beyond」(オランダ, 2018年)、PHOTO 2021「Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography」(オーストラリア, 2021年)、KG+SELECT(日本, 2021年)など。

To see more work by Yoshikatsu Fujii, visit - Website / Instagram