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[Photos] A Photographer's Quest to Capture Every Location in Vintage Posters of Kobe

Comparing images of a geographical location across decades is nothing new, but hunting down real scenes from old paintings takes a significant amount of dedication and attention to details.

At Saigoneer, we’ve also undertaken similar projects previously, in which we make “Then & Now” comparisons between old and new Saigon. You can find some examples here, here and here.

A Japanese art lover, however, went the extra mile — quite literally — and scoured for 100 locations in the Japanese city of Kobe that were featured in an old painting book by famed artist Hide Kawanishi. Kawanishi was a woodblock print artist living in Kobe in the first half of the 20th century. From 1933 to 1936, he created a series of paintings showcasing the charm of his hometown. After World War II ended, he started producing color posters depicting how Kobe changed after a period of tumult.

In 1962, Kawanishi published his book Collection of Artwork – One Hundred Scenes of Kobe (神戸百景色), his last major project before passing away in 1965, according to Spoon & Tamago.

Though he wasn’t classically trained, his artistic sensibilities and passion for art showed through the incredibly vibrant works. “I have never had a teacher of painting. I am absolutely self-educated and have painted what are not paintings,” Kawanishi writes in the book. “Having walked and found my own path, I am just what you may call a dilettante. I may complain about losing my youth, but there are things that I shall never lose such as innocent mind and thrills, creativity, originality, and a fresh sense of popularity and clarity. To become plain is the last thing I want to be."

Flash forward to today, when Takayuki Kita was inspired by Kawanishi’s works and dedicated two years taking photos of every sight featured in the book.

“I was driven by the magic of Hide Kawanishi in his enthusiasm of grasping the deep spirit and fantasy of Kobe out of the unique architecture scattered in the city,” Kita said of his personal project.

The entire collection of paintings and their modern companions can be viewed in their entirety on the official website of Kobe City here. Have a look at some standout picks from the collection below, courtesy of Spoon & Tamago:

Kobe Port.

Moto-Machi at night.

The city nightscape from Mt. Rokko.

Shiogahara Park.

Hakutsuru Art Museum.

China Town.

Kobe Train Station.

Suma Beach.

Nada Sake Brewery.

[Images via Spoon & Tamago]


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