Here in a superbly designed limited edition art-book, two enfants terribles of post-war Japanese culture come together.
Shuji Terayama’s sharp-eyed prose combines with Daido Moriyama’s haunting photography to offer a gritty, but poetic vision of Life on the Wrong Side of Town: Sports Edition.
You can BUY IT here.
The publisher, Match and Company, is known for its outstanding creative design work. Satoshi Machiguchi helmed the project, selected the pieces and effectively created a brand-new work of art. The translation is by Peter Tasker.
A great idea would be to buy it in combination with our Japanese Dream project, which also features the magic duo of Terayama and Moriyama.
You can BUY THAT ONE here.
In order to get the full sensuous experience of Life on the Wrong Side of Town: Sports Edition, you need to view Moriyama’s grainy black-and-white images, let your gaze rest on the unusual page lay-out and indeed stroke the cover with your fingertips.
Even so, here is a short excerpt to give a taste of what to expect.
This dog-fighting drifter, Yasu the Biter, fell in love with one particular dog. It was a small-framed animal with only one eye – hence its nickname, One-eyed Dragon – and it really took a shine to Yasu. At the time he was living together with the Doctor in Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture. He was absolutely determined to have One-eyed Dragon beat the living daylights out of a highly-ranked opponent.
“This dog will never win with a frontal attack,” said the Doctor. “We need to teach him some sort of special technique. In the sumo world they have Wakabayama’s foot-twister throw and Kotogahama’s inside leg throw. If we can teach him just one killer trick of that kind, it’ll be enough.”
The secret trick that Yasu and the Doctor taught One-eyed Dragon was to go for the other dog’s eyes.
“An eye for an eye was the idea,” according to the Doctor. “The dog understands his own physical handicap so he aims to do the same kind of damage to his opponent. His body remembers the pain it suffered and it stays with him forever.”
In the first stage Yasu and the Doctor captured stray dogs and smeared their eyes with meat juice or taped lumps of meat above their eyes and trained One-eyed Dragon to attack those areas. Being an intelligent creature he soon understood what was required of him. When put in front of another dog, he would go straight for the eyes.
Most dogs were unable to put up any resistance. From a low crouch, One-eyed Dragon would spring at his opponent’s face, give a single shake of the head and break away. Then as if spitting out a marble, he would drop the other dog’s bloody eyeball onto the floor.
Terayama loved sport for its uncertainties and twists and turns of fate. He wrote a column for a horse racing paper for decades, carrying on almost until his death. He appeared in a TV commercial for the Japan Racing Association and even briefly owned a horse. Although a keen gambler himself with a voluminous knowledge of sporting facts and figures, what interested him most were the characters involved – not so much the winners as the losers.
The tone of Boxer, his 1977 movie about boxing, could not be further away from the feel-good triumphalism of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, which was released the year before.
the boxer heals his wounds
envying young wounds
I’m on the midnight street-car