"Life in Philly hovers between the diaristic and the objective social documentary, never quite settling on one thing or the other - but this sense of uncertainty only confirms the authenticity of Ishikawa's vision." in The Photobook: A History volume III
Mao Ishikawa was born in 1953 in Ôgimi Village, in the northern part of Okinawa, one of the most distant and rural areas of Japan. When Ishikawa was born, Okinawa was officially taken from Japanese hands and put under the control of American military forces, a status that remained in effect until her graduation from high school. Mao Ishikawa was born into this unsettled situation and spent her youth between military zones, in fenced territories, and under the constant demand of Japanese political and cultural agents to redesign Okinawan consciousness along mainstream Japanese lines. Ishikawa started her photography career in a workshop guided by the famous Japanese photographer Tômatsu Shômei (b. 1930), in Tokyo in 1973, when she was 20.