Photobook reviews

Kissa by Kissa by Craig Mod

14 November 2022

Craig Mod’s Kissa by Kissa: How to Walk Japan is a paean to walking, Japan, and that post-war Japanese dish called pizza toast served up in Japanese cafés called kissaten (kissa, for short). Mod walked over 1,000 miles along the Nakasendo Highway, from Tokyo to Kyoto, and through the countryside where he’d chat with tomato farmers, cooks, and the aging customers of the kissaten he’d visit.

Is it a photobook, a long photoessay, or something else entirely? What we can say for certain is that it is a peculiar admixture of anthropology, travelogue, architecture, photography, and cultural studies surely buoyed by the amount of “essays” or “short stories” found within the photographs. The essays and the photographs in Kissa by Kissa work together to form something greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Spread from Craig Mod’s “Kissa by Kissa”Spread from Craig Mod’s “Kissa by Kissa”Spread from Craig Mod’s “Kissa by Kissa”

Kissa by Kissa isn’t Mod’s first book. Before it, he published a number of books including the photobook Koya Bound with Dan Rubin and Art Space Tokyo, a guidebook about the Japanese world of art. If we were to draw a Venn diagram of Japan, walking, and fine-art publishing, surely we would find Mod at its center.

Kissa by Kissa has also been a bit of a unicorn in the world of self-publishing and photobooks. It has sold out of its first and second editions and, at the time of writing this, is a few copies away from selling out of its third. In terms of numbers, that will be over 3,000 copies, a feat that is even more remarkable when considering that it sells for a whopping $95 US not including VAT or shipping (we should note here that Kissa by Kissa can be purchased for only $60 US, but that privilege belongs to those who support Mod financially at the cost of $100 a year through his membership program).

Its success can be attributed to the attention to detail and design Mod is known for. Its success can also attributed to the fact that this isn’t a quick book; it is one whose production required a certain experience and expertise, things that take time and understanding. As such, it is a book that demands from us some time to spend with it.

Spread from Craig Mod’s “Kissa by Kissa”Spread from Craig Mod’s “Kissa by Kissa”Spread from Craig Mod’s “Kissa by Kissa”

About Craig Mod’s Kissa by Kissa