Daido Moriyama, Daido Tokyo

One of Daido Moriyama’s best-known images is of a stray dog he encountered on a street in Aomori in northern Japan. Taken in 1971, it has become a metaphor for his way of working, symbolising his relentless wanderings though the streets of Tokyo in search of the essence of the city – an essence that for him often lies in the overlooked and the everyday, the makeshift and the mundane.

‘I can smell the whole picture’ … Daido Moriyama, Tokyo Color 2008-2015
‘I can smell the whole picture’ … Daido Moriyama, Tokyo Color 2008-2015 © Daido Moriyama

“There is nothing particularly fascinating about this place,” he says, as we stand before an image of a nondescript Tokyo street corner on which a red vending machine stands next to snow-crusted bicycles and an abandoned traffic cone. “It is close to where I live and I shoot it every time I pass, like a dog will return to piss on a corner it knows. I am like that dog marking its territory.”

The territory of Daido Tokyo, which has just opened at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, is both familiar and surprising, recognisable from Moriyama’s countless monochrome images of these same streets, but rendered in bright, bold colours. These recent photographs, made between 2008 and 2015, are a brave late statement, not least because they dispense with the the edgy blur and rough grain that is his signature, one that has been much copied.