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A photo collection by Hiro Tanaka, culled over many years spent traveling with bands like Cursive, Lawrence Arms and Minus The Bear.

Introduction written by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Introduction written by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

If you’ve met Hiro Tanaka, then you’re already a fan. He’s a ball of energy that exudes positivity 100% of the time. A constant that makes me smile always. I first met Hiro in 2001 on the Plea For Peace Tour when he was hanging out with the SELBY TIGERS. We became instant friends and I love him so very much.

Hiro is famous for many things including being able to eat more than a person twice his size. Weighing in at about 120 pounds, he has outdueled my 230 pound frame on many occasions, but he is most famous for being the picture guy. Taking nearly 2,000 photos a day, and often seen in the pit at a hardcore show with camera in hand, taking photos whilst being tossed around like a rag doll

His photos are beautiful, thoughtful, and need to be shared with the world, but I am not a book publisher. In fact, I have no idea what I’m doing, so that’s why this Kickstarter is being presented. The cost to produce 1,000 photo books measuring 10.5” x 8”, including 104 pages of full color photos is extremely expensive. At nearly $10,000, It’s too much of a financial burden for me to take in all by my lonesome. So I’m hoping we can raise half of the funds and I will cover the rest. But of course, the best case scenario is that we are able to cover all the costs. After researching a bunch of Kickstarter projects, we tried to set up fair rewards that equate to you receiving a good return on your investment. Please share with anyone you know that loves Hiro as much as I do.

Be well.

Peace, mike park

Mike Park
Mike Park
Tim Kasher - Cursive
Tim Kasher - Cursive

"As a teenager, I often daydreamed of a day when playing music could offer me access to see the world. As I hurtle ever closer to my forties, I feel like I've been chewed up and spit out at the butt end of those dreams, now wishing music would simply afford me some much needed time at home. The novelty of tour, of seeing the world, has worn off like the once glossy finish of my guitar.

I guess what I'm saying is I've taken it all for granted. My teenage self would be pissed at me (though, wouldn't most of our teenage selves likely be pissed at us?). But whenever I travel with Hiro, well, it's hard to take anything for granted: you can't take your food for granted, "OHHH! Super electric burrito!!!", you can't take your hotel room for granted, "Ahhhh, pretty nice view, eh, Amigo?", you can't take your backstage for granted, "Ooh, nice couch for poquito nap...". And I don't want to take things for granted; I love traveling with Hiro, I highly recommend it, if ever given the opportunity. Hiro helps me see the road with fresh eyes, perhaps similar to how I envisioned it as a teenager. When I look at his photos, it's not the wild, rock and roll shots that most affect me (though they do, they must), but the stillness of the salt and pepper shaker, the crack in the sidewalk. I see what Hiro sees, yet I need someone like Hiro to show me. As for these pictures: they are wild in their movement, in their gestures. They are colorful, off beat, unusual, silly and crude. At times, pensive, sometimes stoic, thoughtful, emotional, often inquisitive. A bit mysterious, sly. At other times, bombastic, explosive, adrenaline-fueled, bold, even majestic. Always beautiful.

And as for Hiro? Well, if someone were to ask me, "Who's Hiro, what's up with that guy?", I suppose I could simply tell them to look at his pictures."

-Tim Kasher (Cursive)

Jeff Rosenstock - Bomb The Music Industry!
Jeff Rosenstock - Bomb The Music Industry!
"I met Hiro Tanaka a little over a decade ago while Mike Park was doing his living room tour. I went because I'm a big fan of Asian Man Records. I went because my buddy Chris was along for the tour. I went because I couldn't believe THE Mike Park was playing in a friend of mine's basement - having been uninvited to a lot of the cool underground happenings, I just didn't know this kind of shit happened in Long Island. I kind of remember saying "Oh, hi, good job" to Mike, talking to Chris about some bullshit, gently arguing with some buddies about whatever punk band was probably not worth arguing about at that point in time.

The only thing I clearly remember was meeting this totally crazy Japanese guy after the show. His name was Hiro, and I don't know how the conversation started but within seconds half a dozen of us were laughing in a kitchen, coming up with expressions to put in his book of American slang (the one I remember was "stay posi, brah.") I quickly realized this dude wasn't crazy, but he was way different than anyone I knew. In our early 20's, my friends and I were learning how to extend our bullshit teenage angst into bullshit hipster cynicism. Meeting someone who thrived on excitement and openness was a super reality check. The night ended with Hiro, myself and one or two others running in circles in a pool, turning into a "whirlpool" while shouting "WHIRLPOOL!!!!" It was the most fun I'd had sober in a long time. With no big plans to go to Japan, I figured I'd never see the guy again.

Thankfully, Hiro Tanaka shows up EVERYWHERE. He ended up coming along on tour with my band Bomb the Music Industry! and Chris's band Chotto Ghetto. As we traveled, I realized that somehow Hiro was already friends with all of our friends, greeting all of them with a effervescent handshake. I also realized, obviously, dude takes a lot of pictures. If it was anyone else - with me waking up hungover on a stranger's floor with a camera lens in my face, shutter opening and closing, clicking, hearing "nice sleep, huh????!!!!" - I would have had one of those serious band meetings. Like, we gotta get this guy outta here, man. With Hiro, after a few hours I didn't notice or care.

I think it's impossible not to welcome someone like Hiro into your life with open arms, as he is genuinely happy to be involved with whatever is going on around him. Fuck happy, JUBILANT. OVER THE MOON. Honestly. All that enthusiasm is so infectious that after a few days you'll find yourself talking like Hiro, in a few weeks texting like he talks. For a short while, Hiro traveled with us taking pictures of everything, capturing not only the shows that went well but the shows that didn't go well. The shows that went terrible. The shows that didn't happen. The gas stations, the fast food, the surrounding areas. The collapsing stages, the stinky basements, the drunken nights. The slow starts, the stinky van, the cheap snacks, and over and over and over again. I bother Hiro all the time about seeing those photos, but we usually just end up getting distracted by something super cool that is happening nearby.

This book shows all the moments of being in a small band that we are too swept up in the moment to capture. It is a book I have been anticipating for years, feel honored to write a blurb for and I hope inspires people to enjoy every moment of life, no matter how frustrating, confusing or boring it may appear to be on the surface."

-Jeff Rosenstock (Bomb The Music Industry!)

Cory Murchy - Minus The Bear
Cory Murchy - Minus The Bear
"The role of a shaman is to connect the physical realm with that of the spiritual realm. He is in tune with the Here and the Now, the Past and the Future. He offers us a bridge in which we can better comprehend our place in this world. He shows us a reflection of ourselves and insomuch a way to understand our own selves more wholly. He reminds us that every moment matters.


Hironobu Tanaka is a shaman in the purest sense. Through him we are able to recognize that in each moment is a lesson, and with every lesson, a snapshot of our life."

-Cory Murchy (Minus the Bear)

Brendan Kelly - The Lawrence Arms
Brendan Kelly - The Lawrence Arms

"Hiro Tanaka is a cool guy. When I first met him, he was living in Minneapolis and touring with a band as a merch guy/general mood livener. I don’t remember what the band was called, but the bassist in the band dressed like Duane from One Day at a Time and another guy played guitar in a sailor suit with a stuffed parrot perched on his shoulder. Even then, Hiro stood out as the most fascinating person in their squad. Hiro was most notable not because he was from Japan (not too common in the northern Midwest), not because he was a human garbage disposal (he could, and still can eat absolutely anything happily and lustily until it is all gone regardless of size or potential grossness), not for the fact that he took awesome pictures (even though his stuff is amazing. My own dumb band, as well as many vastly cooler bands, have used Hiro’s awesome candids and live shots on numerous releases) or even that he is the most uniquely positive, happy, uplifting, good-time human you will ever, ever meet in your entire life. No, the thing that made Hiro so notable was the fact that even though his English was limited, he was a mad consumer and connoisseur of American slang (the slang, not the Gaslight Anthem record).

Hiro carried a notebook and pen with him everywhere and whenever anyone would utter a colloquialism in his presence, his eyes would light up and he’d ask, in the most enthusiastically polite broken English, if the speaker could repeat the expression, define it, and write down the definition in the notebook. This notebook became famous in Midwestern punk circles and band folks started using overly expressive syntax around Hiro in hopes of introducing him to a new turn of phrase and thus becoming immortalized in his notebook.

Hiro’s notebook quickly became a series of notebooks, and Hiro studied their contents tirelessly until his command of American slang was beyond that of anyone else I knew. His conversational English was still limited, but as a slang speaker, he had no equal. As a result, Hiro spoke almost entirely in euphemism. For example, where I may say “let’s go get a hotdog. I’m hungry, and my stomach feels weird,” Hiro might say “man, I need muy bueno lips and assholes so I can drop kids off at pool later, amigo. Super electric!” This is not bullshit, and this is in no way exaggerated. Hiro is kind of impossible to believe in until you’ve met him and even once you have, it’s a stretch to imagine that he’s just a boring old human being with all the same ugliness and selfish shittiness that lurks in the rest of us. Hiro’s just more fun, more excited, more eager to live and vastly more polite than other earthlings.

Beyond that, he’s an amazing photographer with a natural eye for landscapes, portraits and tabletop shit, AND he’s like 73 even though he still looks like he’s 25. I don’t even know what else to say. Last night, Hiro wrote me and said, in regards to this book: “really hope you could write something! I need your master blaster power !!!!!!!!” and I wrote all this. I could go on for ten more pages about this guy but I’m gonna stop now. Check out his pictures. Hiro’s stuff is beyond reproach. I don’t know how he even picked the shots that made it in here at the expense of his other great images, but I know that you’re holding a great collection of his work.

Oh shit! Selby Tigers! That was the name of that band. Those guys were cool too."

-Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms)

"I've known Hiro Tanaka since the mid-90's when he spent many different spells in Minneapolis, MN. Since then we've logged countless hours together on the road. He has always been an artistic force and an inspiration whether he's behind the camera, helping lug band gear, or eating astounding amounts of food. He manages to be everywhere at once with a keen eye that is drawn to out of the way details. He has a warmth about him that finds it's way through the camera and makes his subjects feel and look special. I'm proud to call Hiro an artistic contemporary and a friend. You will meet him one day, and when you do... get psyched for that full body handshake! It's the stuff of legends."

-Sean Tillmann (Har Mar Superstar)

Billy & Paddy - Dillinger Four
Billy & Paddy - Dillinger Four
Steve Snere - These Arms Are Snakes
Steve Snere - These Arms Are Snakes
Sundowner
Sundowner
Todd Congelliere - Toys That Kill / Recess Records
Todd Congelliere - Toys That Kill / Recess Records
Mockup of Hiro T-shirt
Mockup of Hiro T-shirt
Alternate shirt design by Dapose (The Faint)
Alternate shirt design by Dapose (The Faint)
Preview of Offset Print Photo Cards
Preview of Offset Print Photo Cards
A few different Hiro pin designs by Dapose
A few different Hiro pin designs by Dapose

More photos available on the Hiro Tanaka book preview page: HERE

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

As a record label releasing LPs and CDs, we have no idea how to get the word out about a book such as this. We're hoping that word of mouth and that this Kickstarter will help Hiro's book get the attention it deserves.

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    OUR DEEPEST THANKS - You will get an e-mail from Hiro saying “How ya deein and danke."

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    BUTTON - 1" button with a photo of Hiro's face on it.

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    DAPOSE BUTTONS - Pack of four 1" HIRO buttons designed by Dapose. Please add $2 for overseas shipping.

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    POST CARD - Receive a personal photo postcard (randomly selected photo from book) from Hiro. It will include lots of Hiro slang including "How ya deein?" and "Super electric" and "master blaster" all handwritten, of course, by the master blaster himself.

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    POST CARD PACK - Get at least 10 post cards (possibly more) with Hiro's photographs. Postage paid. Add $2 for overseas shipping.

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    PHOTO CARDS - Collection of 36 cards, 2" x 2.5" offset print. Includes some photos from the book. Postage paid. Please add $3 for overseas shipping.

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    T-SHIRT - Receive a HIRO t-shirt. Please indicate your desired size. Postage paid. Add $5 for overseas shipping.

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    BOOK - Get a copy of the book and also receive a personal thank you e-mail from Hiro. Postage paid. Add $10 for overseas shipping.

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    BOOK/POST CARD PACK - Get a copy of the book, the post card pack, and a personal thank you e-mail from Hiro. Postage paid. Add $10 for overseas shipping.

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    BOOK/T-SHIRT - Get a copy of the book, Hiro t-shirt, and a personal thank you e-mail from Hiro. Postage paid. Add $10 for overseas shipping.

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    BOOK/PHOTO PRINT - After receiving the book, pick a photo and we will send you an 8" x 10" print (Note, that there are a few photos that aren't eligible for prints, but 95% of the photos are). Photos will be mailed in either a shipping tube or with a cardboard support to prevent damage. Postage paid. Please add $10 for overseas shipping.

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    BOOK/PHOTO PRINT - After receiving the book, pick a photo and we will send you an 12" x 18" print (note, that there are a few photos that aren't eligible for prints, but 75% of the photos are). Photos will be mailed in either a shipping tube or with a cardboard support to prevent damage. Postage paid. Please add $10 for overseas shipping.

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    EVERYTHING - Get a copy of the book, postcard pack, a thank you postcard, photo cards, t-shirt, pin and 12" x 18" print. After receiving the book, pick a photo for your 12" x 18" print and we'll send it to you (note, that there are a few photos that aren't eligible for prints, but 75% of the photos are). Please add $19 for international shipping.

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    HIRE HIRO FOR THE DAY - Hiro will be your servant for a day. He will take photos of your wedding, birthday, bachelor party, bachelorette party, bar mitzvah, quinceañera, or whatever you want. Hiro specializes in spontaneous snapshots, so keep that in mind if you're looking for a more traditional photography experience instead... Flight, transportation, and lodging must be provided for out of town travel. Hiro has no problem sleeping on the floor, so you can save money on lodging costs. Copy of book included.

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    WEDDING OFFICIANT/ PHOTOGROPHER - Mike Park (licensed officiant with over 50 weddings under his belt) will officiate. Hiro will photograph the wedding and supply the happy couple with a disk containing hi-resolution copies of the photos. We will also set up a DIY photo booth, where guests can take photos of themselves. I’m sure you’ve seen or experienced this. Always fun and always a wedding favorite. Hiro specializes in spontaneous snapshots, so keep that in mind if you're looking for a more traditional photography experience instead...Flights, transportation, and lodging must be provided for out of town travel. Both are able to rough it, so nothing fancy needed. Coach flights and a single room at a motel works fine. Copy of book included.

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