Moriyama Daido began photographing in the 1960s, during a period of intense social and creative ferment in Japan. Often roaming the cities and highways of Japan and capturing gritty images in his signature high-contrast, grainy, and blurry style, Moriyama gained considerable exposure through publications and began exhibiting his works as early as the mid-1970s. His technique of shooting in movement and from dynamic perspectives effectively captures the social and spatial tension inherent in Japan’s postwar modernization.
This iconic image, taken in 1972, was published in KARIUDO (Hunter), a photo book of Moriyama’s work from 1968–71. “Hunting” for images while traveling the roads of Japan, Moriyama captures two officers in a coffee shop. Far from portraying the regimental glory of the past, these officers sit casually with heads turned. Sharp gashes of light obscure their facial features while a waitress stares blankly at the counter that rakes diagonally across the composition. Part of a group of five Moriyama photographs, this print complements the Freer|Sackler’s extensive archive of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs from Japan.