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Japanese Life & Culture

Japan's First Female Photojournalist Going Strong at 101

By October 3, 2015 at 8:32 pm
One of Sasamoto's book, which was published at the age of 97-year-old.
One of Sasamoto's book, which was published at the age of 97-year-old.(Photo : Amazon.co.jp)

Living up to be a centenarian is in itself a feat but being mentally alert at that age is quite another matter. If Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara of St. Luke Hospital is an unworldly man practicing medicine at age 104, Ms. Tsuneko Sasamoto, a renowned Japanese photographer, is a wonder woman vivaciously working on a new collection at age 101.

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Ms. Sasamoto is Japan's first female photojournalist and has lived through the pre-war and post-war years since she turned professional at 25. In 1985, she gave an exhibition at age 71 which signaled her "return" to photography. In 2001, she was awarded the 16th Diamond Lady Prize and in 2011 the Eiji Yoshikawa Culture Prize.

Ms. Sasamoto won the 43rd Best Dresser Special Award in 2014.

In a TV interview, Ms. Sasamoto spoke of her inborn curiosity that has always promoted her to work. "Pretty scared but curious, don't like it but want to see it", told she. "I feel compelled to face the world and let people know what I see, just want to have the pictures taken..." said she. 

A close friend of hers, Tetsuya Terashima, an editor, testifies that Ms. Sasamoto's "way of photography" never budged through her 70-year career as a photojournalist. "She has seen plenty of roughness, but she kept steadfast and courageous. People feel it through her work", says Terashima.

Ms. Sasamoto is focusing on flowers lately for her next collection "Hana Akari (Flower Glow)", her homage to her deceased friends. "In my own way I believe man and flowers are deeply correlated. As I think of my dear friends, I want to relate each one of them with flowers and let flowers deliver them my appreciation, impression...." tells Ms. Sasamoto.

Ms. Sasamoto had her left hand and both legs broken in 2014 and is rehabilitating three times a week to build strength to carry on photographing flowers.

News Source: NHK