Among all the Japanese photography books I have amassed over the years, Omiai by Tomoko Sawada stands out because it doesn’t quite fit into what has become rather stereotypical of works from The Land of Rising Sun.
No no, she is definitely no Moriyama or Araki. But why would she want to be them when she can stand on her own?
In Japan, when a man or a women reaches a certain age and is still single, the family panics and Omiai, which is an arranged marriage meeting, kicks in.
In preparation for Omiai, the prospective candidate goes to a photo studio to have his or her formal portraits taken, and then compile it into a packet which also contains other vital information. Yes, not very different from a resume or cv for a job application.
Sawada dresses herself up in different attires — traditional as well as modern — and then sits for her own camera.
No price for guessing but she is definitely poking fun at a tradition she finds both amusing and repulsive.
Sawada’s other books such as School Days, ID400 and Recruit are all of similar vein. All of them feature multiple versions of her.
Yes, she wants to talk about conformity.
She is asking on behalf of millions of individuals — why do I need to be the same?