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Hideka Tonomura: “They Called Me Yukari” – Vivid Fantasy of a Japanese Hostess

Born in 1979, Hideka Tonomura graduated from the Broadcasting and Filmmaking Department of Osaka Visual Arts School and began photography in 2002. She published her first photobook “mama love” in 2008 with Akaaka Art Publishing, revealing her deepest pain and the dark, hidden secrets of her family, leaving an unforgettable impression. In 2013 she published “They called me Yukari” with Zen Foto Gallery, in which she documented the life and people around her when she was working as a hostess in Kabukicho, Shinjuku.

Japan – 

Hideka Tonomura has left a grave shock in the art scene with her debut collection of photographs, “母恋ハハ・ラブ/ Mama・Love” (AKAAKA Publishing, 2008) which has portrayed, in flashing clarity, her mother as an actual woman, in other words, a women who is also a mother of someone. In the returning exhibition in Zen Foto Gallery since her debut a handful of years ago, she presents the series “They Called Me Yukari”, suitable sequel to her previous works. There is merely any change in her unique way of capturing the emerging figures in a dark shadow, virtually groping, grasping and rubbing their skin, yet what the artist has been viewed seems to grow more strong and alive in the images.


The series of photos are fertilized from Tonomura’s days in Kabukicho1) from 2008 to 2009. In the club in Kabukicho, Shinzuku, she served the customers as a hostess, naming herself Yukari – a name that later the title of the series derives from. The narrative in the series becomes vague, and the men and women captured in shades of red from a close distance suddenly float and sink back into the deep and dark abyss. Following such flickers leads one to a stage where in which emotion bursts forth without limitation – an emotion that can only be described by the word Mononohare2). Through the dense description of sexual acts, an awareness of impermanence, which is deeply rooted in Japanese people’s minds, appears.

I’ve found myself wishing to know how her work would be received in Europe, or in the U.S. Is there any venue in which Tonomura’s exhibition could be held? However, the collection of photographs from the ZEN Foto Gallery will be published under the same title, along with her opening of her exhibition.

Photography Written by Koutarou Iizawa
Translated by Choi, Hyonn-joong

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