The Map, the consummate achievement of Kikuji Kawada's early period, is a sequence of images with strong visual appeal. As we look back at that achievement, however, we discover that, whatever the photographer's intentions, they also play a social role as a record of human violence; that is automatically part of the message they convey. Kawada spent six years, from 1959 until 1965, when these images were published as The Map by Bijutsu Shuppansha, almost entirely at his own expense, shooting scenes that preserve memories of war. The series begins with landscapes including the Atomic Bomb Dome (now the Peace Memorial) in Hiroshima and the fortifications in Tokyo Bay. It continues with the complex, brocade-like patterns of the stains burned into the Atomic Bomb Dome, and includes other concrete reminders of the scars of war, including the posthumous image of a young suicide squad commando, the final letter he left to his mother, and the high-collared uniform worn by a middle-school student who was killed by the atomic bomb.
Wreckage shows the destructiveness of war, scrap iron suggests the productivity of early postwar Japan, symbolic images of a soiled and wrinkled Japanese "rising sun" flag, and the Lucky Strikes and Coca-Cola whose packaging, with its invariant design qualities, quickly became a part of everyday life in Japan, document the postwar years. To allude to current events as the Japanese economy moved into its period of rapid growth, Kawada included multiple images from television news broadcasts highlighting current events as Japan's economy entered the period of rapid growth, suggesting that the memories recorded in The Map are linked to the present, as it was when the photographs were published in 1965.
- Kyoko Jimbo, Theatrum Mundi Kikuji Kawada, 2003, p.56
1965, Kikuji Kawada Chizu / The Map. Published Bijutsu Shuppansha, Japan.