Life in Mid-Century Aomori Captured by Shoichi Kudo

Life in Mid-Century Aomori Captured by Shoichi Kudo

Shoichi Kudo is one of the newest of a long line of outsider artists whose oeuvre was discovered and recognized only after their death. 

Kudo lived in Aomori, where he was born, one of the northernmost areas in Japan and worked as a photographer for a local newspaper. He kept his personal work apart and hidden, except for a brief period when he contributed photos to popular magazines in early 1950’s. After his death in 2014, Kudo's family discovered boxes filled with undeveloped negatives hidden away in the attic. 

The negatives revealed vivid, unfiltered documentation of people in Aomori in the 1950’s. Kudo’s photos can now be viewed here:  @shoichi_kudo_aomori, launched by his daughter Kanako Kudo in 2020. 

These images are from a time when Japan was at its lowest, and just beginning to recover from the long war.  Aomori is known for its severe weather and day to day life there was very tough. Still, people in Kudo’s photographs show energy and warmth, often smiling for his camera. Many photos are purely striking images and show intimate details of the everyday lives of farmers, fishermen, engineers, women and children in mid-century Northern Japan.  

Follow @shoichi_kudo_aomori for daily updates of Shoichi Kudo’s photos. 

His first monogram is forthcoming in June 2021, published by Misuzu Shobo.

Lance Henderstein. 2020. “Photo Essay: A Legacy Uncovered.” The Japan Times. <>  
Kyoichi Tsuzuki. 2020. “Kudo Shoichi no kiseki.” ROADSIDERS’ Weekly. <

Women sitting on a pile of apples.


An old fisherman with “oke” buckets.


Little Women in Aomori.


Ladies with market baskets.


Kids tending a shop selling fruits. 


Two kids dressed for a festival. The character in the circle on their front says “Matsuri"(festival).


Locomotive engineers at lunchtime. 



A mother doing laundry with shibori tenugui (tea towels) hanging in front.


People at a station, carrying bamboo travel backpacks.


A clothing store in mid-century Aomori.

Photos @shoichi_kudo_aomori