​Makoto Kubota 

Atelier VGI

About the Photographer:

Born in Japan in 1957, Makoto Kubota is one of Japan’s most accomplished and international free-lance photographers.  A graduate of the Tokyo College of Photography, he has lived in, and extensively photographed, Europe, Africa, North America, and Asia, working for both Japanese and international clients.  His portraits of elite athletes, top politicians, media celebrities and artists have been published in dozens of Japan’s news and photography magazines.

Kubota’s published books include Children of the World:  Korea (Kaiseisha, 1986), Hot Mexico (NTT Books, 1998), Sumo (Chronicle Books, 1999) and others.  Kubota has exhibited his work in galleries in Japan and Europe, including two exhibitions in Geneva.  Irezumi is his first US exhibition.

About the Irezumi Project:

Over the past decade, acclaimed Japanese photographer Makoto Kubota has photographed dozens of practitioners of the ancient Japanese art of irezumi.   To do so required spending further years beforehand to build the trust of the organization to which these individuals belong.  

The English translation of the word, irezumi – “tattoo” - is woefully inadequate to fully convey the skill required to create these living works of art, as well as the honor which accrues to the individual who – by virtue of their accomplishments on behalf of their leader and their organization - obtains permission to undergo the painful, multi-year process of receiving this body art.

Influenced by Avedon’s “In The American West,” Kubota chose large format photography for Irezumi.  He shot his black and white photos with a Deardorff 8x10” Field Camera, and the color photos on a Phase One P25, to allow life-size enlargements for exhibition purposes.