The Taisho Photographer’s House

Date Published
3rd May 2016

I am sitting at Haneda airport right now about to board a plane to Sydney, thinking about what has brought me to this point.

About 18 months ago my dear friend Florian Seidel contacted me letting me know about a location that might be of some photographic interest to me.

Florian and I often travel together to haikyo, or abandoned places, which he meticulously documents over on his website Abandoned Kansai. He puts a huge amount of time and research into his work and has the largest and most informative blog on the topic in all of Japan.

I’m very privileged to occasionally be allowed to tag along.

The location he provided me with this time proved to be a particularly special one, and is the subject of my latest exhibition, opening this weekend at Artsite Gallery in Sydney (brochure here).

Please have a look at this video:

The property was built back in the 1920s, and while
internet speculation labels it a holiday house, speaking to the local neighbours and municipal office it seems there were permanent inhabitants until at least the late 70s. Many of the neighbouring properties belong to extended relatives, but none that I spoke to know (or are willing to divulge) anything about the direct descendant, a male, who moved out of the prefecture.

If somehow this descendant were to stumble across this post, I urge you to please contact me so that I can provide you with high resolution scans of the glass plates to preserve these precious memories.

In the meantime, an exhibition featuring some of these images alongside my own photography of the site will be running from May 7th-29th 2016.

Please come and visit the show if you are able, which consists of archival giclee prints hand printed by me in my studio in Tokyo.

You can also see a preview of the images here in the gallery.

Thank you very much to Florian for his trust and generosity, to Nathalie Prat for helping with the extra large prints in the show, Yuna for hours of translation work, Harley and Zann for getting the new website up and running in time, Irwin for his excellent work on the video, Patrick O’Carrigan for his kind words, Madeleine for her guiding curation, and all my friends and family for the immeasurable amount of practical support without which this show could not have happened. Thanks especially to my parents, Peter and Lizette, who have been running around tirelessly for months to ensure that prints and promotions are exactly when and where they need to be.

I hope to see many of you there on Sunday.




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Aarushi Redij

15 June 2016

This is Aarushi from Better Photography magazine, India. Better Photography is the leading photography magazine in India and South Asia for over 18 years now. Our primary audience includes serious enthusiasts and amateurs. We cover a wide variety of content from techniques, equipment review and interviews. We are a hobbyist magazine whose priority is education in the art and science of photography. We saw your 'The Taisho Photographer's House' collection online, and found the photographs really interesting. We wish to run a Cover Story (of about 25-40 pages) in the magazine around such novel and innovative ideas of photography focused on windows and the different tangible and intangible ways they have implemented it as an idea in their photographic work. It is here that we wish to feature his work as a part of this story. It would be great if you could give me some contact detail where i could contact you. I think our readers would really enjoy these unique photographs and get to learn a lot from them. I look forward to hearing from you. You can also visit us on our website at www.betterphotography.in Warm Regards, Aarushi Redij Features Writer Better Photography Contact: +91-9920359491


20 May 2016

Hi James, my initial plan was to return the plates back to the darkroom, but having seen the increased vandalism on subsequent visits to the site, I am now doing my best to track down a living descendant and return the plates directly to him. I have a few leads from talking to the local municipal office as well as some distant relatives I tracked down, and am still working on it.

James Smedly

18 May 2016

Hi Hamish, did you return the glass plates once you had scanned them?