Selected as one of the Best Japanese Books of 2011 by Dan Abbe
"Showa 88" was originally conceived as a series of images - a dying gangster sees flashes of his life passing before his eyes. In bringing "Showa 88" to its final form Kazuyoshi Usui decided that the power of photography lies more in suggestion rather than the cinematic conception of an explicit narrative, and in this lies the power and maturity of the work.
Much of the great photography of the Showa era is powerful black and white - just think of the representative work of Hosoe, Narahara, Moriyama and Araki. Colour is the challenge of the next generation, including Naoya Hatakeyama, Mika Ninagawa, Kawauchi Rinko and Lieko Shiga. In "Showa 88" he has made a significant statement in Japanese colour photography, and the images individually are very beautiful.
Not only beauty is in this book but on another level there are significant reflections on Japanese society and history. Japan transformed completely during the 20th Century as the Showa Era gave way to the Heisei era. The manipulative imperialist exploiter of Manchuria in the 1930s turned into the world`s most peaceful nation. The land of the high growth miracle is now the country where GNP has not grown for two decades. The aggressive copier of technology and Western institutions is now the most inward-looking of Asian nations.