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The owner of Dashwood Books explains why Rasen Kaigan, photos by Lieko Shiga, is his book of the month.


One of my main reasons for opening Dashwood Books seven years ago was to bring Japanese books to New York. There is a rich history there in producing remarkable books on photography that continues to this day. The books are generally produced in small editions — rarely more than a few thousand copies — but they have a loyal homegrown and self-sustaining audience. Very few titles are distributed outside Japan and consequently I travel to Tokyo each spring to scout out the latest titles, as well as buy vintage books and sell my own publications. On my most recent trip I found this astonishing book from the publisher Akaaka.

Lieko Shiga is the one of the best young talents working in Japan today. Her latest book Rasen Kaigan (Spiral Beach) consists of photographs taken in Kitakama, in the Miyagi Prefecture, the northern part of the main island. Kaigan had been based there since 2006 on a residency program where she was working on a project on folklore and festivals of the region. Her studio and all her work were destroyed in the tsunami of 2011 that led to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Rasen Kaigan is all work completed in the wake of the disaster and simultaneously continues her work on the folklore of the region. She employs a dazzling, fresh, dynamic style, photographing at night or dusk with blown out flash, cross-processing and double exposures conveying a palpable energy and a sense of chaos.