Japan’s first, oldest female photojournalist is an inspiration to us all

For most people, working a job for a couple of decades is considered a long time. But for Tsuneko Sasamoto, Japan’s oldest (and first) female photojournalist, she’s been working professionally for 76 years and is showing no sign of slowing down.

Sasamoto, who turned 101 in September, started her photojournalism career at the age of 25. While she’d taken up photography as a hobby in pre-war Japan, the onset of World War II provided the impetus for her to turn her hobby into her profession. When she first started, cameras were still rather cumbersome contraptions . . .

. . . but nowadays, she’s shooting with modern equipment, and continues to inspire women to join a field that’s still overwhelmingly male.

Sasamoto at 97

For her 100th birthday, the Japanese Newspaper Museum put on an exhibition titled “100 Years of Japan’s First Female Photo Journalist Tsuneko Sasamoto,” celebrating Sasamoto’s pioneering work and the legacy she’s still building — she’s hard at work shooting her next show, titled “Hana Akari” (Flowers Glow), even though she’s currently in physical therapy after breaking both of her legs and her left hand last year.

The show, which focuses on flowers and will serve as a tribute to her friends who’ve passed away, is a departure from her earlier work, which focused on the sights and scenes of a rapidly changing Japan. Many of those photos, which she published in 2011 in a photo book, are snapshots of a world in flux, and show Sasamoto’s eye for light and composition.

You can see more of Sasamoto’s photos in the following video:

And for those of you who can read/understand Japanese, an interview with her at the age of 97 is below:

Too often, we discover lost female icons after their passing, or years after their most active working period. We salute Sasamoto’s dedication to her craft, and hope to see more of her trailblazing work in the spotlight it deserves.

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(Images via YouTube, H/T PetaPixel)