I was afraid that this rural region from my memories would be totally transformed, becoming nothing but a flat and faceless terrain—a victim of modernization . . . I wanted to capture my memory of the land from which my mother came and where I was born. —Hosoe Eikoh

The Tohoku region in northeast Japan consists of six prefectures—Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata. With its rugged mountain landscape and harsh climate, Tohoku is known for its rice cultivation and agriculture.

Wartime conditions in Tokyo forced Hosoe Eikoh to return to his birthplace in Yamagata Prefecture. From 1944 to 1945, he lived as a carefree boy among the villagers and their folklore of earthy demons, such as the Kamaitachi, a weasel-like creature that attacked farmers. Hosoe returned to Tohoku again twenty years later, and his vivid childhood memories became the basis for the series Kamaitachi. Wandering the countryside, he photographed villagers and Butoh dancer Hijikata Tatsumi’s spontaneous performances inspired by the mischievous Kamaitachi’s antics.

Much attention has been focused on Tohoku in recent years. On March 11, 2011, the region was devastated by Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami off the Pacific coast, which triggered explosions at the Fukushima nuclear complex. Further information about the disasters and recovery effort can be found in the Japan Disasters Digital Archive.

Hosoe Eikoh (b. 1933)