Good-Bye, Men of Nippon!


Tamotsu Yato (矢頭 保 Yatō Tamotsu, 1928(?) – May 1973) was a Japanese photographer and occasional actor responsible for pioneering Japanese homoerotic photography and creating iconic black-and-white images of the Japanese male. He was a friend and collaborator of the writer Yukio Mishima and the film critic Donald Richie, as well as a long-term romantic partner of Meredith Weatherby, an expatriate American publisher and translator of Mishima’s works into English. Yato completed three volumes of photography:

Taidō: Nihon no bodibirudā-tachi (体道:日本のボディビルダーたち). Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1966; English version: Young Samurai: Bodybuilders of Japan, New York: Grove Press, 1967. With an introduction by Yukio Mishima.

Hadaka matsuri (裸祭り). Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppansha, 1969; English version: Naked festival: A Photo-Essay, New York/Tokyo: John Weatherhill, 1968. With an introduction by Yukio Mishima and essays by Tatsuo HagiwaraMutsuro Takahashi, and Kozo Yamaji. Translated and adapted for Western readers by Meredith Weatherby and Sachiko Teshima.

Otoko: Photo-Studies of the Young Japanese Male, Los Angeles: Rho-Delta Press, 1972. Dedicated to the memory of Yukio Mishima.

Even though Yato’s work received only a limited public distribution, it has attained a cult following and has been acknowledged as a major influence by a number of artists working with male erotica. Thus, Sadao Hasegawa remarks in his Paradise Visions: “Tamotsu Yato achieved fame by creating Otoko (Man) a picture book. He photographed Yukio Mishima, nude. His subjects: traditional, muscular, unsophisticated countryside men, are mostly extinct today. Otoko was valuable because you could see these long-bodied, stout-legged, cropped hair, square-jawed men… Good-bye, men of Nippon!”

 
 

 

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