Handmade Books from Tokyo: Introduction to the collection by Mike Ward

I attended the gallery opening of ‘New Wave’, a collection of handmade artist edition books by contemporary Japanese photographers. Ward is a collector fascinated with Japanese photography, after visiting Japan for a holiday. He began collecting the photobooks, some originals, some reprints, as many books only have around 50 copies handmade, they are expensive and rare to find.

Ward explained that hand making photobooks in Japan is something that is becoming increasingly common, as it makes the books more personal. There are topics in Japan that are illegal to be published, such as reflections on wars. So by creating the book yourself, you can include your own content that wouldn’t be published in the country, creating a honest photojournalism piece of work, with a personal touch.

There were various works from 6 different photographers, with personal family topics and topics such as dog fighting, which is legal in Japan apart from Tokyo. What i found interesting about the different books, is the production of the dummies to approach the narratives in unique ways.

Whilst Ward was talking about the inspiration for the different books, i was overwhelmed with different ways to present cultures. I found this linked with my Migrant project, to create a book that is different, inspiring and true to the subject.


  • Inserts – Adding inserts can be images, text or extra information that isn’t attached in to the book.
  • Bags/T shirts – creating merchandise that relates to the book. It makes it more artistic and direct to the viewer as it is something they can wear or use.
  • In a closed box – i found this interesting as you have to open the box to find out the context. This means you are exposed to the books at the same time they are to you – making it personal and an event.
  • Fold out pages – hiding images or information in the pages.
  • Book box mirrors the inside – creating an outer layer protects the inside of the book, whilst still projecting the books theme.
  • Two languages – having different languages makes it more accessible to different people and cultures.



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