Magnum Photos Photographer Profile

Hiroji Kubota 

Japanese, b. 1939 (Contributor) 

I love beautiful things, and I want to make pictures that lift people's spirits. I see the giving and receiving of photographs as something beautiful and personal. ” 


During a visit by Magnum members to Japan in 1961, Hiroji Kubota came to know René Burri, Burt Glinn and Elliott Erwitt. After graduating in political science from Tokyo's University of Waseda in 1962, Kubota moved to the US, settling in Chicago, where he continued photographing while supporting himself by working in a Japanese catering business.

He became a freelance photographer in 1965, and his first assignment for the UK newspaper The Times was to Jackson Pollock's grave in East Hampton. In 1968 Kubota returned to live in Japan, where his work was recognized with a Publishing Culture Award from Kodansha in 1970. The next year he became a Magnum associate.

Kubota witnessed the fall of Saigon in 1975, refocusing his attention on Asia. It took him several years to get permission to photograph in China. Finally, between 1979 and 1984, Kubota embarked on a 1,000-day tour, during which he made more than 200,000 photographs. The book and exhibit, China, appeared in 1985.

Kubota's awards in Japan include the Nendo Sho (Annual Award) of the Japanese Photographic Society (1982), and the Mainichi Art Prize (1983). He has photographed most of the Asian continent for his book Out of the East, published in 1997, which led to a two-year project, in turn resulting in the book Can We Feed Ourselves?

Kubota has had solo shows in Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, New York, Washington, Rome, London, Vienna, Paris and many other cities. He has just completed Japan, a book on his homeland and the country where he continues to be based.


1962 B.A., Political Science, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan


1983 Mainichi Art Prize
1982 Nendo Sho (Annual Award), Photographic Society of Japan
1970 Kodansha Publishing Culture Award


2001/02 Can We Feed Ourselves? – Asia Society, New York, USA; School of
Oriental and African Studies, London, UK
1999/00 China: Fifty Years Inside the People's Republic - Asia Society, New York, USA
1997 Out of the East: Recent Photographs of Asia by Hiroji Kubota - Equitable Gallery,
New York, USA
1991 China: Exhibition of Photographs by Hiroji Kubota – Tokyo Fuji Art Museum,
Tokyo, Japan
1992 From Sea to Shining Sea: A Portrait of America - Corcoran Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C., USA


2004 Japan, W.W. Norton & Company, UK
2000 Can We Feed Ourselves?, Magnum Photos, Inc., USA
1997 Out of the East: Transition & Tradition in Asia, W.W. Norton & Company, USA
1992 From Sea to Shining Sea: A Portrait of America, W.W. Norton & Company, USA
1988 The Mountains of North Korea: Mts. Paeku & Kumgang, Iwanami Shoten, Japan
1985 China, Collins, UK/W.W. Norton & Company, USA