Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bakushi and Cameraman Asano Yuu

Thanks to the internet, Japanese photographers Sugiura Norio and Tanaka Kinichi have become widely known outside their home country. These are probably the most recognized names internationally (among SM photographers), but there have been many others who have made an impact in Japan yet remain relatively unknown abroad. One of these is Asano Yuu.

I first came across Asano's work sometime in the '90s when I discovered a website called INPOR. This was after Kikkou but not by much. One day, INPOR just disappeared, but during its brief existence it served up a large selection of some of the best Japanese SM photography then available. One section contained the work of Asano Yuu.

At the time, only the photographer's family name, Asano, was published on INPOR. Just recently I learned his full name and the fact that he goes way back to 1971 and Kitan Club magazine. The photo below comes from the great website Nostalgic Kitan Club (Natsukashiki Kitan Kurabu).

Asano's work in Kitan Club, January 1971
He was also a photographer for the magazines SM Select and Novel SM Select.

SM Select
Novel SM Select
Asano got his start in this world by complaining in the pages of Kitan Club about the low quality of their photos! He then went about doing things the way he thought they should be done.

Asano is a bakushi as well as a photographer. And on the subject of shibari, he has been outspoken. Viewing his work, it seems clear he is dedicated to depictions of tight, authentic kinbaku. I don't think he has much use for artsy-fartsy, photo studio productions; the kind that show a naked girl with some ropes thrown on in an apparent afterthought.

He has also commented on the beauty, or lack thereof, of the many models he has seen over the decades and is known for being discriminating in his personal choice of models. I am told he writes with a sense of humor (probably necessary since he tends not to pull his punches).

Nevertheless, I believe even Asano acknowledges he is an amateur photographer. His work lacks the polish, the professional touches of the pros mentioned above and many others. But what sets Asano apart is the content of his images; the sheer, raw truth of kinbaku.

As filmmakers are fond of saying, it's the story that matters. All the lush cinematography and splashy CG in the world won't make up for a shit story. When it comes to Asano's pictures, he's got the story down pat. His work speaks for itself.

Asano's kinbaku photography was always a side job and he has consistently preferred to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, at 70 and long retired from his day job, he continues to seek out interesting backwoods locations in which to bind and photograph his lovely girlfriends.

Like many, he has switched over to digital photography, but other than that, it's business as usual for Asano Yuu.

More of Asano's work can be found here.

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