Koji Onaka 

Slow Boat 9 Chiba Katsuura 

Slow Boat 9 Chiba Katsuura

About the artist

Koji Onaka came to photography through Daido Moriyama’s book Tales of Tono. He is a remarkable practitioner of densely-toned black and white photography; his wanderings were brought together in 2003 in his book Slow Boat (which earned him international recognition), a leisurely stroll through urban Japan, far from the usual images of hectic lifestyles and crowded streets.


When did you start photography? What was the triggering event?
It was in high school, in 1976. I discovered photo magazines and I found photography was an expression of life, an art. I got to know the work of Daido Moriyama and Nabuyoshi Araki. Four years later, I started photography school where I was taught by Moriyama.

Could you tell us about these images’ shooting context (when and where were they taken, what caught your eye at the time)?

This car appeared to me while I was travelling by bus in northern Japan, in Hokkaido. I asked to get off to take a picture, and had a long wait for the next bus!
The other photograph, the mountain in town, was taken in Chiba, near Tokyo. It’s a fishing village, shot on a summer afternoon. I was facing this really strange landscape when suddenly two characters walked into the field of view; what they expressed was striking: they were in perfect harmony with the landscape’s atmosphere.

Your black and white photography is quite dense, with deep, saturated blacks, while your colour photography seems to tend towards a kind of mellowness. How do you approach both, what would you say are their specificities and visual potential?
In 1999, I started printing my own colour photographs. From then on, I have worked exclusively in colour. With black and white, I try to obtain high contrasts, denser shadows. To me, the ultimate master of black and white is Daido Moriyama.

Limited edition, numbered and signed. 

Selected shows and awards

Lucky Trip Again, Solaris, Osaka, Japan, 2015

Umimachi, Zeit Foto Salon, Tokyo, Japan, 2015
Twin boat, Visuel art Gallery, Osaka, Japan, 2014
Lucky cat & Matatabi, Projektraum Fotografie, Dortmund, Germany, 2014
The Dog in France, Le 29 Librairie Photographie, Paris, France, 2014
My Favorite 21, Zen Photo Gallery Roppongi, Tokyo, 2013
I'm Full, Sorajuku,Tokyo, Athens,Osaka, 2012
Koji Onaka, Carré Amelot ,La Rochell, France, 2012
Sigeichi Nagano & Koji Onaka// Ce Qui Se Défait, Photo4 , Paris, 2011
SlowTokyo Candy Box, Le Plac'art Photo, Paris, 2010
Horse & Cactus 2, Emon Photo Gallery, Tokyo, 2010
Voayages, The Japan Foundation, Leira, Portugal, The Japan Foundation, Toluca, Mexico, 2010, The Japan Foundation ,Paris, Tokyo Metlopolitan Museum Of Photography, 2009
Daegu Photo Biennale, Culture And Art Center, Daegu Korea, 2010
Landscape Of Ashikaga, Ashikaga Art Museum, Tochigi Japan, 2010
Seitaka-Awadachiso/Nogata, Tanio Musium, Fukuoka Japan, 2009
The Manila Box, Kaida Gallery Manila Phillipin, 2009
The Dog In France, Nadar,Osaka, 2008
Horse&Cactus- In Mexico, Emon Photo Gallery, Tokyo, 2007
Dragonfly, Chukyo University Gallery C・Square, Tokyo, 2007
Japan Caught By Camera, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 2007
Recent Acquisitions, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum Of Photography, Tokyo, 2007
Grasshopper, Zeit Foto Salon, Tokyo, 2006
Latvia,Spain, Visual Arts Gallery, Tokyo, 2005
Takaramono/My Precious: Photos And Words Five Contenporary Japanese Photographers, Yokohama Citizens Gallery, Yokohama, 2005
Slow Boat, Photographers' Gallery, Tokyo
Matatabi, Zeit Foto Salon, Tokyo, 2003
Black Out/Contemporary Japanese Photography, The Japan Foundation , Roma, Paris, Tokyo, 2002-2003
Tokyo1984-91/Reaview Mirror Part2, Photographers' Gallery, Tokyo, 2002
The18th Higasikawa Photofiesta, Higashikawa Culture Gallery, Hokkaido, 2002
Tokyo Candy Box, Place M, Tokyo, Visual Arts, Tokyo, Shinjuku Nikon Salon, Tokyo, 2001
Machikage, Studio Ebis Photo Gallery, Tokyo, 1998
Distance, Mole, Tokyo, Berg, Tokyo, 1996
Seitaka Awadachi-Sou, Ginza Nikon Salon, Tokyo, 1993, Gallery Kaido, Tokyo, 1988-91
Seitaka Awadachi-Sou No Aru Machi, Camp, Tokyo, 1983

The Photographic Society Of Japan New Photographer Prize, Japan, 2006
The18th Higasikawa New Photographer Prize, Japan, 2002
The 4th Shasin-No-Kai Prize, Japan, 1992

Selected publications

Lucky cat,Matatabi library,2013
Twin Boat, Session Press, 2013
Umimachi・1997, Matatabi Library, 2012
Distance, Matatabi Library, 2012
Matatabi, Super Labo, 2012
Umimachi, Super Labo, 2011
1983 Nogata:Echoes Of Coal And Steel, Grafica, 2008
The Dog In France, Sokyu-Sha, 2008
Slow Boat Second Publish, Schaden.Com, 2008
Grasshopper, Tosei-Sha, 2006
In-Between Latvia,Spain, Eu-Japan Fest Japan Committee, 2005
Slow Boat, Sokyu-Sha, 2003
Hysteric Five : Onaka Koji, Hysteric Glamour, 2001
Tokyo Candy Box, Wize Shuppan, 2001
Distance, Mole (Self Publishing), 1996
Seitaka Awadachi-Sou, Sokyu-Sha, 1991

Featured links


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Koji Onaka 
Slow Boat 9 Chiba Katsuura


Technical information

Pigment print on Ilford Gallery Gold Fibre Silk paper - limited edition, numbered and signed certificate.


23,7 x 35 cm, Edition of 50 250.00 €

By the same artist

Koji Onaka

By the same curator

NEW JPN GEN with Marc Feustel