Tsuneko Sasamoto is not only one of Japan’s first female photo-journalists, but also one of the country’s oldest photographers. Even more impressively, the 101-year-old is going strong, still taking photographs despite breaking both her legs and her left hand in a fall last year.
Sasamoto is now undergoing rehab for her injuries, and is currently working on a photo project called Hana Akari, which in English means ‘Flower Glow,’ a tribute to her friends who have passed away.
Sasamoto was born on 1st September 1914 in Tokyo. Despite societal pressure to be come a housewife, the independent young woman fought to become a photojournalist and had succeeded by age 25. She garnered attention for her extraordinary photographs in both pre and post-war Japan, and bore witness to Japan’s dramatic shift from a totalitarian regime to an economic superpower.
Nowadays, Sasamoto doesn’t really talk about her age and people usually assume she’s about twenty years younger. When people realise how old she really is they tend to become patronising, so she avoids it where possible.
“I feel if I tell people I’m 100 years old, they will say ‘Can you still push the shutter button, or ‘Can you still see okay?’”
Looks like she can see fine to us!
So, what’s the secret that’s kept her shooting well into old age?
“You should never become lazy. It’s essential to remain positive about your life and never give up,” said Sasamoto. “You need to push yourself and stay aware, so you can move forward. That’s what I want people to know.”
Sounds like great advice at any age!
Take a look at some of her amazing work from over the years below.
Geisha School, 1951
Dome in Hirosima after bombing, 1953
Politician Inejiro Asanuma, 1955
Antarctic ship Soya, 1956
Soho Tokutomi, 1957