Kishin Shinoyama, Famous Japanese Photographer, Dies at 83

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kishin Shinoyama talks about his photo exhibition in January 2017. The poster of the exhibition in the background includes a photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, one of his most famous photos.

Photographer Kishin Shinoyama, known for his celebrity photography, died on Thursday. He was 83.

His wife is retired singer Saori Minami, and his second son is actor Akinobu Shinoyama.

According to Akinobu’s management office, Kishin Shinoyama suddenly fell ill around midday on Thursday and was raced to hospital, where he later died.

Born in Tokyo, Shinoyama started working at an advertisement agency while still a student at Nihon University. Having displayed talent with his advertising work, he became a freelance photographer in 1968. In 1970, Shinoyama took photos of Yukio Mishima shortly before the novelist committed suicide. During the 1970s, he raised his profile through his photo books, such as “Nude” and “Olele Olala,” which contained photos he took at Rio de Janeiro’s carnival.

Shinoyama married Minami in 1979 and went on to take photos of celebrities who embodied an era, such as singer-actress Momoe Yamaguchi. Furthermore, he showed his prowess in shooting various subjects, including architectural masterpieces and “Shinorama” — panoramic photos of modern cities which he took using several cameras.

He energetically took pictures of actresses and pop idols, calling the photos “gekisha” (hard shots). Many of those photos graced the covers and the centerfolds of magazines.

The photographer also published photo books featuring nude pictures of star actresses, such as Kanako Higuchi and Rie Miyazawa. In 1991, he published the photo book “water fruit,” which contained nude photos featuring pubic hair. “Santa Fe,” the photo book featuring Miyazawa, especially became a bestseller and caused a social phenomenon.

Shinoyama continued to take photographs of various subjects, from kabuki actors and Takarazuka Revue stars to ballet dancers and sumo wrestlers, as well as Disneyland.