Brilliant photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, known for his sexy shots of female nudes engaged in bondage or ‘Kinbaku’ (a form of erotic art where there is pleasure behind binding + being bound) + suggestive florals, recently took pause by pointing his lens on Japan’s sakura flower. Rarely seen in any of Araki’s work, the pink sakura flower, in his hands, managed to have an ominous yet dark romanticism to it, as he used vintage Polaroid film to great effect.
With cherry blossom season starting earlier this year, an annual occurrence in Tokyo, Araki captured this natural marvel at Tokyo’s Hamarikyu Gardens + Aoyama Cemetery. It’s kind of an ironic juxtaposition between life + death and the organic + inorganic, with these locations serving as backdrops to these blooms. When referring to his pics, Araki mentioned to NOWNESS, ‘The city’s skyscrapers appeared as gigantic tomb stones in the background. Then at the graveyard I photographed a beautiful woman with a baby in her arms and another child happily running around the trees. For the first time, I realized that cherry blossom brings happy memories too.’
Attracted to the cherry trees blossoming but not one to go + watch, Araki understands the appeal. Yet, as the flowers only blossom for one to two weeks out of the whole year, an ephemeral quality is born, which the photographer feels people sympathize with. In a way, these photographs serve as memento mori for the sakura flower.