Tomohiro Muda

Tomohiro Muda (b. 1956) is perhaps best known for images inspired by sites of religious devotion and pilgrimage, in particular his work with the Sherpas of Nepal, where he spent many months high in the Himalayas preparing his first solo show in 1988. He went on to travel throughout the world capturing images of Japanese, Romanesque, and Byzantine art, as well as ancient centers of Buddhism including Yungang, Borobudur, Angkor, and Ajanta. With “Spaces for Prayer, Forms of Prayer” as a theme, he brought his photography to global attention through exhibitions and publications. Muda’s many other fine-art photographic exhibitions, with a focus on light and presence, include “Rome: The Wall of Time,” “Face of Iron,” and “Portraits of Poli,” in which he depicted a medieval Italian mountain town.


For his 2016 New York debut show at Thomsen Gallery, Muda shifted his focus to the natural world with a selection of photographs of one of earth's most precious resources: Water. His atmospheric depictions of the seemingly omnipresent yet also fragile liquid reflect an individual aesthetic that conforms to international trends in fine-art photography while building on traditional Japanese sensitivity to mankind's environment. In common with several other contemporary Japanese artists working in different media, Muda’s aesthetic is inflected with a sense of reverent awe at the energy and destructive potential of natural forces in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan a decade ago.


Conceived as one of a series of five exhibitions devoted to the traditional Asian Five Elements of Chi (Earth), Sui (Water), Ka (Fire), Fuu (Wind), and Kuu (Sky), “Aspects of Water” featured 40 photographs that explore water in all its states, from the mirror-like surfaces of a lotus pond to dynamic compositions of spray and steam. Muda eschews the merely literal in pursuit of an approach to his subject that almost conveys a three-dimensional effect, expressing his bodily experience of water. As noted by leading art-historian and critic Yūji Yamashita, with this exhibition he seemed “ … to be aiming toward a grand summation" of all his previous practice.



1956   Born in Nara Prefecture. 

1980   Graduated from Department of Education, Waseda University, Tokyo.

1982   Began a career as an independent photographer.

1988   Presented “The Land of Sherpa,” his first private exhibition, featuring photographs taken during his stay at a Sherpa village in the Himalayas.




1990    The Land of Sherpa, IPC

2000   Portraits of Poli, Single Cut

2002   El Claustro de Santo Domingo de Silos, Exile Gallery

2005   Yungang Grottoes, Impleo

                Pilgrimage, Japanese Art, Impleo

2006   In Praise of Japanese Beauty: Japanese Aesthetics Through the Lens of Tomohiro

                Muda, Coherence

2007   Romanesque: Sacred Buildings in Light (Tankosha)

2010   Yungang Grottoes (Fuzambo International) 

2012   Okugake (LLP Bookend)

              Cîteaux (Heibonsha)

              Buddha's Words of Wisdom (PIE International)

2013    Icons of Time: Memories of the Tsunami that Struck Japan (Heibonsha)

2017    Romanesque: Those Lurking in Light and Darkness (Seikatsu no Tomo)

2020  Tomohiro Muda Buddha Universe (Seikatsu no Tomo Co.)

              Treasures of the Tokyo National Museum (Bookend Publishing Co., Ltd.)



1988     “The Land of Sherpa” (Shinjuku Nikon Salon, Tokyo)

1993     “Portraits of Poli” (I.C.A.C. Westin Gallery, Tokyo)

1994     “Ritratti di Poli” (Palazzo Conti, Italy)

2002   “The Cloister of Santo Domingo de Silos” (Exile Gallery, Kyoto)

2004   “Spaces of Prayer, Forms of Prayer” (Impleo Gallery, Tokyo)

2005   “Yungang Grottoes” (Mayuyama, Tokyo)

               “Pilgrimage: Japanese Beauty” (Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi, Tokyo)

               “Rome: The Wall of Time” (Gallery Fukka, Impleo Gallery, Tokyo)

2006   “Tomohiro Muda: In Praise of Japanese Beauty” (Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo)

2007   “Face of Iron” (Gallery Fukka, Tokyo)

               “The Art of the Romanesque” (National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo)

2008   “Romanesque: Lurk in the Shadows” (Gallery Fukka, Tokyo)

               “Santiago–Kumano: Caminos de Peregrinación” (Tanabe Wakayama, Japan / 

                Paris, France / Santiago, Spain / Mitsuo Aida Museum, Tokyo)

               “In the Shadow” (Galerie Etienne de Causans, Paris)

2009   “Clair Obscur” (Mayuyama, Tokyo / Galerie Frédéric Moisan, Paris)

                “À l'Ouest” (Gallery Uchiumi, Tokyo)

2010    “The Wall of Time” (Marunouchi Gallery, Tokyo)

2011     “Yungang Grottoes” (Mayuyama, Tokyo)

              “The Way of St. James: Tomohiro Muda, An Eastern View” (Spanisches

               Generalkonsulat, Hannover, Germany / Instituto Cervantes, Hamburg, Germany

               “Cistercians” (Nagano, Tokyo)

                “Sacred Place, Prayer, Fantasy” (Koumimachi Kougen Museum of Art, Nagano,                         Japan)

2012      “Okugake” (Kinpusenji, Nara, Japan)

                “The Land of Sherpa” (Gallery YYZ, Tokyo)

2013      “Les Murs du Temps” (Galerie Yoshii Paris)

2014      “Icons of Time: Memories of the Tsunami that Struck Japan” (The Shoto Museum of

                 Art, Tokyo)

                “As Pure as the Lotus: East Asian Ceramics and the Eyes of the Photographer

                Muda Tomohiro” (The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka)

                “Mizu No Bo” (Kashima Arts, Tokyo)

2015      “Borobudur” (Mayuyama, Tokyo)

                 “Zao Gongen and the Secret Treasures of Shugendo” (Mitsui Memorial Museum,


                 “Chi-Ku No Bo” (Kashima Arts, Tokyo) 

                 “The Wall” (Gallery Cocon, Tokyo)

2016       “Icons of Time: Memories of the Tsunami that Struck Japan” (Japan Foundation

                  Gallery, Sydney)

                 “The Power of Colors” (Musee Tomo, Tokyo)

                 “Ka-Ku No Bo” (Kashima Arts, Tokyo)

                 “Aspects of Water” (Erik Thomsen Gallery, New York)

2017     “The Way of St. James: Tomohiro Muda, An Eastern View” (Palau Pineda,

                Valencia, Spain / Casa de Cultura, Caudete, Spain / Centre Cívic Tomasa

                Cuevas, Barcelona / Auditorio Municipal, Ávila, Spain / Gothic House, Barcelos,

                Portugal / Capilla de San Esteban, Astorga, Spain)

                “Tomohiro Muda: Romanesque” (Mayuyama, Tokyo)

                “Tomohiro Muda, Gose: Fragments of the Universe” (Osaka and Nara, Japan)

                 “Icons of Time: Memories of the Tsunami that Struck Japan” (Fitzrovia Chapel,


                “Waves of the Lotus” (Yehjinfa, Taipei)

                 “Kabe / Ishi, Kioku” (Genra Art, Kanazawa, Japan)

                 “Shards of Memory: Photographic Installation by Tomohiro Muda” (Chihanan,

                 Shizuoka, Japan)

2018      “Kabe: Himitsunoarika” (Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art, Shizuoka, Japan)

2019      “Minamo” (Luca Scandinavia, Tokyo)

                “Voice of Stones” (Genra Art, Kanazawa, Japan)

2020    "Aspects of Water" (Thomsen Gallery, New York)

                 "Buddha Universe by Tomohiro Muda" (Mitsuo Aida Museum,Tokyo)

                 "Chi kuu no aida by Tomohiro Muda" (Genra Art, Kanazawa)

2021      "Icons of Time 2021" ,Tomohiro Muda Photography Exhibition (PORTE Kanazawa)

                 "Cîteaux", by Tomohiro Muda (Art Genra, Kanazawa)

                 "Ame Tsuchi Akitsu" by Tomohiro Muda (Tokyoreimei Artroom, Tokyo)

2022      "Mizu" by Tomohiro Muda (Art Genra, Kanazawa)



The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art