Horse & Booze

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You’ve created a series of small photo books called Horse & Booze – Volumes #1 – 6, described by one viewer as “a mix between a diary, a poem and an absurd trip.” How did this series come about?

I’m not the type of photographer that is considered “good.” I don’t use expensive equipment. I don’t have great printing skills either. However, emphasis has been placed on printing in the Japanese photography market. Only fine print is photography, and it’s valued.

The coarse printing on cheap paper, overlapping text on photos, and paperback style used in Horse & Booze was my modest resistance to the above norm. Horse & Booze was the beginning of my attempt to utilize all means I have, including the texts, to make up for my lack of photography skills. I chose Horse & Booze as the title because I like the two, and it represents my feeling that I will continue to do what I like. My way of saying “I’ll do as I please.”



Can you tell us a bit about each volume.

Basically, each volume is one complete story.

At first, the concept was “traveling” and I planned to include photos and texts of different locations for each volume. But when I was planning to release the third volume, the company I worked for went bankrupt and from there, I wanted to change the concept from “traveling” to working and life as a photographer, leading me to choose more internal and daily life topics in my works.

Each volume is based on a true story. However, a few parts that may bring trouble to certain individuals have been made vague. Some people think Horse & Booze is fictional, leading me to think I should release a volume based on lies.

List of Volunes:

Volume I: Izu-Oshima – Travel
Volume II: Oga Peninsula – Travel
Volume III: What it means to work – Until the company went bankrupt
Volume IV: The night of leap day – Story of when I got drunk and missed the last train
Volume V: Obihiro – Travel
Volume VI: Love and Business Suit – Story about poverty, heartbreak and re-employment



第一号 伊豆大島:旅もの
第二号 男鹿半島:旅もの
第三号 働くことに就いて: 会社が倒産するまでの話
第四号 うるう日の夜:酔っ払って終電車を乗り過ごした話
第五号 帯広:旅もの
第六号 愛と背広:貧乏と失恋と再就職の話


What is the process like of making each volume?

I asked designer Maiko Shinozaki to do the cover and illustrator Sachiyo Kariya to do the horse logo. Everything inside, including the design, was done by me. I am not really bright with design and it may look lousy…

表紙はデザイナーの篠崎舞子氏 (Maiko Shinozaki) に、馬のロゴマークはイラストレーターの刈谷サチヨ (SachiyoKariya) 氏にお願いしました。


All of the volumes are in Japanese, except for Volume 4, which includes English text. Why?

I originally had no intention to have it translated into English. I was making my work for Japanese people and I had never thought of someone overseas looking at my work. The writing was mostly referencing the unusual and narrow Japanese customs and values and I thought foreign people would not be able to understand. However, upon visiting Paris Photo and foreign exhibits within the gallery I am in, I started to think of releasing a Horse & Booze that foreign people can read.

At that point, I experimented by translating Volume IV “The night of leap day,” which I thought would be the easiest to understand and can be conveyed without resistance. I am surprised that I received reaction from overseas. I wish I can translate every single volume but unfortunately my English is poor and it is a long dream.

しかし、パリフォト (Parisphoto) に行ったり、所属しているギャラリー街道で海外展を行ったりする中で、海外の人にも読んでもらえる「酒と馬」を用意しようかなと考えました。

その時に第四号の「うるう日の夜」(Spoiled Night)が一番内容もわかりやすく、抵抗なく伝わるのかなと思い、実験的に翻訳をしました。


Will there be a Volume 7?

I want to release the seventh volume by summer. The next theme will be something daily. I am almost turning 30 so I think that will be the topic. At least in Japan, “turning 30” is thought to be a little special. For example, when you turn 30, your friends start to get married and have children. It is also an age where it become difficult to switch jobs.

少なくとも「 30 歳になる」というのは日本では少し特別な意味を持っています。
たとえば 30 歳になると周囲の仲間たちは結婚して子どもを持ち始めます。また転職が難しくなる年齢でもあります。

Take Sakamaki  lives in Japan. Horse & Booze can be purchased online.

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