Review: Toshi-e (Towards the City) by Yutaka Takanashi (errata)


Book Reviews, Photobooks


As someone who loves photobooks, I couldn’t be happier about Errata Editions. As is probably widely known, Errata publish reproductions of photobooks that otherwise would not be accessible to a wider audience. A truly wonderful case in point is provided by Yutaka Takanashi’s Toshi-e (Towards the City), originally published in Japan in 1974. (more)

Those familiar with the history of Japanese photobooks will be aware of the fact that Toshi-e (Towards the City) was one of the most important books to emerge from the Provoke movement. If you don’t know anything about this part of photobok history, getting your copy of Toshi-e will solve that problem, too: The book contains a remarkable essay by Gerry Badger about Provoke and Toshi-e.

But let’s step back from all the photobook geekery and ask: Why would anyone else be interested in this? It’s a valid question, isn’t it? Maybe you love photobooks, but you like your colour landscapes barren. Here’s the thing, if you love photobooks you want to have a good look at Toshi-e (Towards the City) anyway - to see how it works with its images. For example, the book uses various photographs more than once - on purpose. In fact, the first part of Toshi-e is constructed like a movie, with a fade-in and fade-out (I’m not kidding, and no, this does not look goofy).

Once you look through Toshi-e you’ll realize that while it was published 36 years ago, it still stands out, feeling fresh and lively. Just like any classic, you can tell its age, but it does not look dated. It is a true experience that you don’t want to miss.

Toshi-e (Towards the City) has been out for a while (in fact, Errata’s next series has already been announced), so this review is not the timeliest. But then again, you can review a classic any time…

Toshi-e (Towards the City), photography by Yutaka Takanashi (reproduced from the original Japanese 1974 release), poem by Gozo Yoshimasu (previously untranslated, contained in the original Japanese 1974 release), essay by Gerry Badger, notes by Jeffrey Ladd, 176 pages, Errata Editions, 2010