Ko Ito: Ginza Tokyo 1964
Ko Ito (1943–2015) was a Japanese photographer who changed his career (and location) in his mid-30s, his work remaining virtually unknown in the Japanese photography world. Japanese publisher Yoshiyuki Morioka came across his work in the summer of 2019 and soon decided to publish Ito’s photographs taken in Ginza in 1964.
Ginza Tokyo 1964 was a pivotal year for Japan, with its economy having recovered from the war and the Olympic Games putting the world’s eyes on the nation. The Ginza district in Tokyo, today one of the most expensive quarters in the world dominated by luxury brand shops and high-class restaurants, looks rougher in Ito’s photographs. The early signs of prosperity are visible – in shop windows and people’s clothes and faces – but Ito also captured worn-down buildings, scaffolding, trash, and cigarette butts, perhaps as a reminder of who it is that builds the increasing wealth.
Yet Ito’s photobook is not quite “social” or documentary photography. Ito’s images reveal an awareness of the historical contradictions that arose before him, but they do so without disregarding the positivity and energy in the city and its people in 1964.
The book includes detailed commentary for each photography as well as an afterword by publisher Yoshiyuki Morioka (both in Japanese only).
About the Publisher
Morioka Shoten is a tiny bookstore of “a Single Room with a Single Book” in Tokyo. It sells only one book; more precisely, multiple copies of one title that changes weekly, with a small book-inspired art exhibition on the walls.
Its challenging, minimalistic philosophy and well-curated shows attract numerous visitors from all over the world. Takram, as branding director, proposed a slogan and a logo, with the address details within, to express its locational value and the importance of a physical venue in the era of digital reading. It’s a place where a blissed conversation between readers and authors emerges through slow reading – just like a Japanese traditional tea room.
On 5th May 2015, Morioka Shoten Ginza Branch (Shoten = Bookstore) was revealed to the public on a quiet street in Ginza slightly away from the busy main street. Morioka Shoten had opened its first store in Kayabacho ten years ago; it used to attract people with engaging events such as book launches and exhibitions held at the gallery inside the store and so it becomes “a place where a blissed conversation between readers and authors emerges”.
On 15th January 2015, Morioka Shoten became Limited Company to further enhance such engagement and to become a bookstore that offers an exhibition “inspired by a single book”. For the establishment of Morioka Shoten & Co., Ltd., Masamichi Toyama, CEO of Smiles Co. Ltd joined as an investor and Takram as branding /art director.
Yoshiyuki Morioka, the owner of Morioka Shoten Co., Ltd. Ginza, worked as a bookstore clerk for eight years in Kanda, a quarter known as Tokyo’s center of second-hand bookstores. Morioka then went independent, opened his own store, and ran a number of exhibitions. This experience eventually led him to an idea of “a bookstore with a single book”. He believed that a single book will offer deeper understanding and closer relationship with the reader as well as the essential pleasure of book reading.