Skip to content

Photo of the Week #175

Kazuo Sumida

Black and white photo of a cross dressing man, wearing a ballerina outfit, parading in front of Japanese bar patrons who are seated and watching.

From the series Tosa Late Night Diary: Memories of My Uncle, c. 1984-1990


January 10, 20222
Kazuo Sumida has spent most of his life in Kochi Prefecture, on Japan’s Shikoku Island, off the southern coast of the mainland. In 1984, after the death of his father, Sumida suffered a period of depression and began exploring Kochi City at night with his camera. To avoid conflicts with Yakuza and patrons in the city’s pleasure district, he used infrared film and a filtered strobe flash—making his flash shots invisible to the eye.

Sumida began focusing his photography on Nobara, a downtown gay bar where he first met his estranged uncle who was a drag performer there. Japan’s gay bars have historically functioned almost like private clubs and Sumida’s photographs feel like a window into the joy and freedom that a marginalized community can enjoy when gathered in an exclusive space.