YOKOHAMA--A photo exhibition now on at the Yokohama Archives of History here vividly depicts the port city rising from the ashes of World War II and driving headlong into the nation's high economic growth period of the 1950s and '60s, a theme which is drawing renewed interest with the release of a popular anime feature film staged in the same time and place.
Titled "Yokohama Nostalgia," the exhibition showcases 140 photographs by Motochika Hirose, a 95-year-old resident of Konan Ward who snapped more than 30,000 shots of postwar city life.
One photo shows a passenger boat departing from the Yokohama Osanbashi Pier with strips of paper tape dangling from its rails. Another is of a U.S. serviceman stationed in Japan making a purchase. And then there is one of a man pulling a cart as well as shots of a traditional party and pleasure boats on the Ookagawa river.
Hirose was born in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture. His family moved to Yokohama in the early years of the Showa Era (1926-1989).
Hirose worked at an import-export firm handling raw silk run by his family, all the while taking black and white photographs with his beloved Nikon S2 and other cameras. In more than eight years after 1953, Hirose went through about 800 rolls of film.
Back then, several street cars were running through a city center filled with vacant lots. U.S. military housing facilities occupied half of Yamashita Park. His photos show children playing in the streets and downtown areas swarming with shoppers.
The city is now famed for its urban views as seen in the Yokohama Minato Mirai 21 bay area, but there were no such posh districts in those days. The city was chaotic, but filled with an energetic vibe and many happy faces, according to Hirose.
The same area and era serve as the setting for Studio Ghibli's latest anime feature film "Kokurikozaka Kara" (From Kokuriko Hill), which depicts a coming-of-age love story. The film is directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of award-winning anime film maker Hayao Miyazaki.
"Like an express train, Yokohama went through rapid changes after the war," Hirose said. "I wanted to preserve those moments. I even feel nostalgic about them."
The pictures are also seen as having great value because they offer a historic record of the times.
"Even though people were living in grim times, their faces were alive and shining, and I feel consolation, or even envy, in (the pictures)," said Izumi Ito, head researcher at the Yokohama Archives of History in the city's Naka Ward. "I think they are gifts from the past so that we can take a look at another time."
The exhibition will run through Oct. 23.
For more information, visit (http://www.kaikou.city.yokohama.jp/index.htm).
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