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Chikuho no kodomotachi 筑豊のこどもたち (Children of Chikuho) / Rumie-chan wa otosan ga shinda (Rumie's Father is Dead)

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Chikuho no kodomotachi 筑豊のこどもたち (Children of Chikuho)
    • Rumie-chan wa otosan ga shinda (Rumie's Father is Dead)
  • Description

    Photobook. First edition, fourth printing; & first edition. 2 vols. Signed and inscribed copies.

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1960
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 25.5 centimetres (Chikuho)
    • Width: 18.2 centimetres (Chikuho)
    • Height: 25.5 centimetres (Rumie)
    • Width: 18.2 centimetres (Rumie)
  • Curator's comments

    A superb document of the bitter life of coalminers, and a classic example of the photo-realism that Domon Ken advocated. The images show the appalling conditions in the impoverished coal-mining region of Chikuho (Fukuoka pref.) where sulphur gases constantly leak from a huge slagheap causing a variety of bronchial infections. The book is printed on cheap paper, the quality of the reproductions is rather rough and it was sold for only 100 Yen. However, it is precisely the lack of these qualities that add a genuine feel to this publication and make it an important historical document. The image of a smiling orphan girl stepping out of a dilapidated hole in the wall is one of the great images of social realism. Over 100,000 copies of the book were sold in 1960 and in the following year Domon received the Mainichi Art Award for this publication. The title of the supplement to the previous item speaks for itself. It tells the story of Rumie-chan and Sayuri-chan, two sisters who were sent to an orphanage and tried to escape. Interestingly, Domon chose a different publisher for this supplement to 'Chikuho no kodomotachi' and the quality of reproductions are slightly better, while the design is clearly based on the previous. A portrait of the two in an entrance of a house, Rumie pouring tea, and Sayuri on a swing, each of the images conveys a palpable sense of hardship, and the will to survive. Unposed, utterly real, and yet deeply crafted, they also reflect the empathy that Domon felt. Domon accuses: He appeals to our sense of decency and to our sense of justice. In some ways this is political photography in some ways it is very personal: Emotional and with the clear aim to help relieve the suffering of the disadvantaged, to show that they exist through no fault of their own. Highly individual, the story of two girls represents the hardships of many. The first volume is printed in the same year as the first edition. Only one copy in OCLC. (Titus Boeder, 4/07)


  • Location

    Not on display

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • PB.26 (Photobook number)

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Object reference number: JCF16144

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