Watanabe Katsumi was an itinerant portrait photographer working primarily in Shinjuku in Tokyo in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The subjects in Watanabe’s photographs are the prostitutes, street people, Drag Queens, entertainers and gangsters (Yakuza) that populated Kabukicho at night. Essentially, Watanabe made his living by selling the photographs to his subjects. He would offer three prints for 200 yen. A modest gentleman, Watanabe had a keen sensitivity to the natural posturing of his subjects which allowed them to uninhibitedly reveal their identities. He saw Kabukicho as a stage; his photographs documented the performers.


Gangs of Kabukicho

(All rights reserved. Images @ Watanabe Katsumi & DAP.)


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