A Criminal Investigation
On 13 January 1958, the grotesquely disfigured body of a man was discovered near Lake Sembako in Japan. Two investigators from Tokyo came to help the local police in resolving what at first appeared to be a banal case, but which soon proved to be something more complicated. For the first time, a photographer was authorized to accompany the police to document the investigation. Press photographer Watabe Yukichi (1924-1993) followed the inspectors as they questioned witnesses (workers in a tannery factory, local police officers) and pounded the streets of the most insalubrious neighborhoods in Tokyo–its bars, bridges, alleyways and hospitals–in search of the killer. Like the haunted film stills of a newly discovered noir classic, Watabe’s images record much more than simply a police investigation, and reveal a Tokyo of the 1950s in a way that has rarely been depicted.