Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yasuhiro Ishimoto and The Document of Human Revolution

Here's a gorgeous bit of architectural photography.

In 1972, the Sho Hondo temple at Taiseki-ji, Japan, was completed. It was regarded as an important work of post-war Japanese architecture and was to be the main temple of Nichiren Shoshu, a branch of Japanese Buddhism. The temple was built by Nichiren's lay organization, Soka Gakkai but by 1991, Soka Gakkai had been deemed heretical and stripped of its affiliation and so, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood had the Sho Hondo temple demolished in 1998.

The following pages are from a book called The Document of Human Revolution, published in 1973 to commemorate the completion of the temple. The first part of the book is a series of documentary photos of the then-president of Soka Gakkai and his family and followers. What follows from there is a large section of architectural photographs by Yasuhiro Ishimoto along with architectural drawings, floor plans and elevations. It's a beautiful production and is of course printed in gravure.


Microcord said...

I haven't seen this book. (I'd thought that more of it was about the plutocrat Ikeda, and thus had avoided it.) And therefore I don't know who did what within it. But the book gives equal billing to two photographers, the other being Tomiyama Haruo. Tomiyama doesn't seem to have impinged on the consciousness of people outside Japan, which is a pity, as his big book Sadogashima is good, and his earlier work (often anthologized) of scenes in the city can be fine too, sort of halfway between early Takanashi and Elliott Erwitt.

Don said...

Yes, half of the book is photographs of the then-president of the lay organization that built the temple. You can see an example on the belly band of the cover at the top of the post. They're mostly hagiographic, idealizing him as a man of the people, with his adoring family always at his side. I don't know that much about the history of the organization but I believe that he was part of the problem that led to the organization being banned and the temple destroyed. Don't know his name off hand but the whole story is fascinating.

Don said...

To be clear, the photographs of the president and his family--candids in a socialist-realist sort of way--are by Tomiyama Haruo.