Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), Moriyama traveled all over Japan on the national highways, just like the narrator of the book, Sal Paradise, who buses and hitchhikes all over North America. And, just like Kerouac and his friend Allen Ginsberg, who both wrote records of their adventures, Moriyama took his own record of the trips he made.
“A single highway is so raw and fresh—it’s like a living creature. There is an incredible variety of things waiting there on the road. Desolate landscapes; crowded, messy, busy streets. And outside the towns, you have fields, mountains, bridges, tunnels.”
But considering the skill of the average photographer, surely shooting scenes that flash past as you drive by at speed is a rather rough-and-ready way of going about things?
On the contrary, Moriyama says. Movement, and especially speed, is essential. “Passing through all sorts of landscapes at high speed, skimming through, heightens your interest in what you see coming towards you. It’s that feeling of anticipation—or rather, of not knowing what to expect—that’s important.
“Your vision behaves differently when you’re moving along at speed to when you’re walking through the city streets. Quite often something presents itself to you in a way it never would have if you’d been on foot. It’s those moments I wait for.”