Facebook Pixel
Main SR only Anker

Nobuyoshi Araki

Delve deep into Araki’s best-known imagery: Tokyo street scenes; faces and foods; colorful, sensual flowers; female genitalia; and the Japanese art of bondage

From the Archives


Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki was born in Tokyo in 1940 and given a camera by his father at the ripe age of twelve. He studied photography and film at Chiba University and went into commercial photography soon after graduating. In 1970 he created his famous Xeroxed Photo Albums, which he produced in limited editions and sent to friends, art critics, and people selected randomly from the telephone book. Over the years, his bold, unabashed photographs of his private life have been the object of a great deal of controversy and censorship, a fact that has not fazed the artist nor diminished his influence. To date, Araki has published over 400 photography books.

Araki’s artwork traverses a multitude of subjects, including Tokyo street scenes, flowers, and female faces, but it is his erotic bondage photography for which he has become particularly notorious, with some labelling him a pornographer and even a misogynist. Some of his images, like those in the TASCHEN publication Tokyo Lucky Hole, document private orgies, the sex industry, and bondage subcultures (including a parlor where men are fondled through holes in coffins), and contributed to his reputation as an agent provocateur, who walks a fine line between art and porn.

But contextualized in relation to the history of shunga, traditional erotic woodblock prints, and kinbaku-bi, a style of Japanese rope bondage, Araki’s work takes on a deeper cultural resonance, reflecting the eroticism beneath the surface of Japanese society. TASCHEN Books, Collector’s edition sumo sized publication, art editions book, and Bibliotheca Universalis titles, consider his images of genitalia and women in bondage alongside the art of kinbaku and examine his work as an expression of female desire and an exploration of love and death in photography. As scandalous as they may be, Nobuyoshi Araki's intimate shots of women, often in stunning black and white monochrome, make for a provocative (and addictive) coffee table book.