Masahisa Fukase

(25 February 1934 – 9 June 2012)

Masahisa Fukase is a Japanese photographer who is best known for his 1986 book Karasu (Ravens or The Solitude of Ravens).  In 2010 the book was selected by the British Journal of Photography as the best photobook published between 1986 and 2009.

Fukase’s first photobook “Yugi” contains photographs of his first wife Yukiyo Kawakami, and his second wife, Yoko Wanibe.  His next photobook “Yoko” was a project devoted solely to images of his second wife Yoko.  Yoko dresses up and poses for Fukase’s shots:


©Masahisa Fukase


©Masahisa Fukase

However, after 13 years of marriage; Yoko left Fukase describing her life with him as moments of “suffocating dullness interspersed by violent and near suicidal flashes of excitement””.  Perhaps being the subject in all his photographs for 13 years was part of her decision to leave.  By the time of his divorce from Yoko and during the early period of his marriage to the writer Rika Mikanagi his third wife, Fukase started photographing ravens. His divorce from Yoko left him depressed and he started drinking heavily and it all shows in his dark grainy photographs of the ravens.

The main thing that drew me to this Japanese photographer is his raven photographs.  It is how he translated his emotions and depression using these disruptive creatures that in his culture represent the unlucky and unpromising love.  It is the lost of his love Yoko.  Fukase became so obsessed with the ravens photographing them mostly through the train’s window.  He captured them in flight, blurred, alive and dead.  The images are dark and mysterious.  They seem like a nightmare yet they speak of loss, loneliness, and personal emotions.

©Masahisa Fukase

After Fukase was done from the raven project; he claimed he became a raven himself.  Fukase died in 2012 after falling down the stairs at his favourite bar and being in a coma for 20 years.  During those years, Yoko used to visit him but sadly he was unaware of her presence.

masahisa fukase, the solitude of ravens
Wik roggeveen

Bibliography / References:

O’Hagan, S. (2010). Masahisa Fukase’s Ravens: The Best Photobook of the Past 25 Years?  [online].  The Guardian. Available from: [Accessed 27 March, 2017].

O’Hagan, S. (2015). Masahisa Fukase: The Man Who Photographed Nothing but his Wife [online].  The Guardian. Available from: [Accessed 27 March, 2017].



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