Three major amateur photography clubs were founded in Kansai in the prewar period: “Naniwa Shashin Club”, “Ashiya Camera Club” and “Tampei Shashin Club.” Photographers from these clubs would explore the possibilities of photography, partly inspired by New Vision, New Objectivity and Surrealism from Europe, which were introduced to Japan at that time. The photographers experimented new techniques, such as photomontage, photogram, solarization and multi-exposures. Sutezo OTONO, Toru KONO and Osamu Shiihara were leading photographers from Tampei Shashi Club.

Sutezo OTONO (1905-1988, Osaka) studied the technique of photogram in details and wrote about it in several Japanese photo magazines. He used various kinds of daily objects, as well as small items picked up during his numerous walks, such as autumn leaves, and very cautiously placed them on photographic paper. He explored the technique so extensively as to bring it to another level.

Toru KONO (1907-1984, Osaka) started photographing at the beginning of his 20s and became a member of “Tampei Shashin Club”. He shot landscapes and outside objects, creating a straight photography that is both candid and surrealistic. Through his lens, ordinary objects, stones and plants would become surrealistic landscapes. He kept shooting in such style after the war. KONO took part in the Democratic Artists Associations, initiated by Ei-Kyu in 1951.

Osamu SHIIHARA (1905-1974, Osaka) entered the painting department at the Tokyo University of Arts. After his graduation, he returned to Osaka and became a member of “Tampei Shashin Club”. He produced many experimental photographs in the late 1930s, using various kinds of photography techniques including photomontage, photogram, multiple exposures and solarization. He also directly painted on glass negatives, calling it photo-peinture.

Tampei Photography Club

Sutezo Otono

Toru Kono

Osamu Shiihara