Snow has rarely been photographed so well. You feel the icy cold that toughened the lives of fishermen pulling their catch from a frozen lagoon. You can hear the wind blowing through the snow-covered roofs of the coastal village in Akita. Many of these photographs were taken long after the war ended. Hamaya had quickly lost his enthusiasm for gunfire as the war progressed ever more disastrously for Japan. Along with many Japanese, disillusioned by the consequences of their earlier chauvinism, Hamaya embraced postwar pacifism. Some of his most striking postwar photographs are of the 1960 demonstrations in Tokyo, when large numbers of students and ordinary citizens protested against the conservative government’s renewal of a security treaty with the US, perpetuating Japan’s status as a US military base for wars in Asia.
more from Ian Buruma at the NYRB here.