Robin
Métral

Werner Bischof in Japan

Published on by Robin Métral

I was closing too many open tabs, and there was a Guardian article titled 'I go too far, too deep': the Swiss wanderer who found the soul of 1950s Japan .

Turns out that the article is a gallery of curated photos from Werner Bischof, one of the few Swiss photographers to have been a member of the quasi-mythical Magnum Photos agency.

Bischof's early, pre-Magnum work photographing trees in Switzerland had prompted me to go into the woods with an infrared film loaded in my Nikon FM2.

Snow-draped trees in the garden of the Meiji shrine, Tokyo. Three persons carrying umbrellas walk through the snow wearing white robes.

The Japan shots are wonderful, and I loved to read about the iconic 1951 shot Courtyard of the Meiji shrine, pictured above.

A few months earlier, Bishof had written in a letter to his wife:

The trees are quite exquisite in Japan. You know the poems that tell of the wind blowing through the trees and the leaves. In the centre of the capital, with its ever-increasing bustle, I have discovered some tree shapes of breathtaking beauty, and have drawn them for you. I cannot believe that these people will ever stop venerating nature, that a time will come when they no longer shelter trees and flowers in their houses as symbols of what is noble and pure...

Have a look at the Guardian's gallery, and go photograph trees outside!


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