Kazuo Kitai was born in Liaoning Province, Manchuria, China, in 1944. Following World War II, Kitai and his family fled Anshan when control of Manchuria returned to China. After his family settled in Kobe, Kitai moved to Tokyo, where he focused mainly on photography. Caught up in the turbulent 1960s, he took an active interest in the social unrest related to Japan’s rapid economic growth and participated in the student demonstrations that roiled the capital city. Shot from the perspective of a participant rather than an observer, his works are characterized by the grainy, blurry, high-contrast compositions favored by young Tokyo photographers in the late 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, Kitai escaped the city and documented village life throughout the country.
The photographs above are from a photobook that documents Kazuo Kitai’s journey to China in 1973 on invitation by Ihei Kimura. This publication captures a journey of which saw Kitai travel back to his place of birth in an attempt to recreate a “lost childhood experience”, searching for an image within the landscape that would contain a memory of his past.