THE LAST SUMMIT: Shu Watanabe’s Artist book

In July 2021, my first artist book, THE LAST SUMMIT, was completed and published.

This book is a hand-bound photo book, produced by me, the artist, from printing to binding.

THE LAST SUMMIT: Shu Watanabe’s Artist book

My father died in a mountain climbing accident in July 2017.

What did climbing mean to my father, a gentle, family man? This film is about my father. This work is a project in which I attempted to have a dialogue with my late father by facing and reliving his last climb.

“THE LAST SUMMIT” Shu Watanabe’s Artistbook 〈Video of turning the pages of a book〉



©︎Shu Watanabe / THE LAST SUMMIT

My father died in a slip-and-fall accident on July 15, 2017, at Mt. Ryokami in Chichibu County, Saitama Prefecture. At the beginning of that year, he was in the hospital to receive treatment and surgery for liver cancer, which was discovered in September of the previous year. After leaving the hospital in March, my father was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, but he had gradually resumed working and continued his hobby of mountain climbing.

©︎Shu Watanabe / THE LAST SUMMIT

“Dad went out to the mountains yesterday morning and never came back. ……”

It was a sunny morning when I received a phone call from my mother, and then it felt as if the ground was crumbling beneath my feet. After filing a missing person’s report at the police station near my parents’ house, my father-in-law gave me a ride to Mt. Ryokami.

©︎Shu Watanabe / THE LAST SUMMIT

As much as I wanted my father to be safe, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if I couldn’t find him. I was feeling hopeless. As if to reflect my feelings, it began to rain heavily as we approached the site. Before arriving at Mt. Ryokami, I received a call from the Ogano Police Station in Saitama Prefecture. They informed me that the body of someone matching my father’s description had been discovered at the bottom of the trail. When I checked the body that had been brought to the police station, it was unmistakably my father’s face. It was a hot summer day, so his body was cremated as it was. My family didn’t get to see his face on his last day.

©︎Shu Watanabe / THE LAST SUMMIT

When the nightmarish day for our family was over, what came to my mind as I was driving back to Tokyo from Chichibu, was not so much sadness over his death but rather anger over why he had gone climbing despite his health condition so soon after the surgery.

©︎Shu Watanabe / THE LAST SUMMIT

About a week after my father’s funeral, I remembered that I had family photos in a drawer of a cupboard in my parents’ house. I searched through the images, trying to find a glimpse of my father, and came across a large number of photos of him climbing mountains, which had never caught my attention before. The image of him in his mountaineering clothes and backpack, looking contented in nature as far as the eye could see, was different from the gentle father I knew at home.

©︎Shu Watanabe / THE LAST SUMMIT

I wondered why mountain climbing fascinated my father so much. To ease the resentment caused by accident, I began to look for what he saw in it. Relying on his notes, I started to purchase climbing gear, including clothing and food. I decided to climb the mountains he climbed.

Shu Watanabe

Book Information

Artistbook by Shu Watanabe

  • 15,400 JPY
  • Language: Japanese or English
  • Page: 204page
  • Size: 215 x 312 x 24mm
  • 69 editions only (all made to order)
  • Each edition will be signed and give the edition number by the artist
  • Photo / Edit / Binding / Print: Shu Watanabe
  • The book concept, storyline, and art direction developed: Yumi Goto at Reminders Photography Stronghold
  • English Proofreading: Sachie Takagi, Marc Kaufman
  • Photos provided: Katsumi Kawashima, Yuko Kawashima, Tomoki Sato, Kazuo Fukata, Mizuko Yamaoka, Norihisa Watanabe

The book can be ordered at the following URL

“THE LAST SUMMIT” Shu Watanabe’s Artistbook〈English Presentation movie – 3min〉


Fisheye Magazine #52

“THE LAST SUMMIT” was featured in issue 52 of Fisheye Magazine, a French photography magazine, as one of its special features, with a 10-page frontispiece.

Introductory article on the Web.


Favorite Photobooks of 2021

Visual artist and writer Magali Duzant selected this book in the “Favorite Photobooks of 2021” sponsored by LensCulture, an online contemporary photography magazine.


THE LAST SUMMIT: Shu Watanabe’s photo exhibition

  • Venue: Reminders Photography Stronghold (Tokyo)
  • Date: 2021.07.10-07.25
Article about the exhibition

2021年7月、私の初のアーティストブック『THE LAST SUMMIT』が完成し刊行されました。














  • 本文:204ページ
  • 言語:日本語または英語
  • サイズ:215 x 312 x 24mm
  • 部数:69部
  • 写真・編集・印刷・製本: 渡部周
  • コンセプト、ストーリーライン、アートディレクション:後藤由美(リマインダーズフォトグラフィーストロングホールド)
  • 英文校正:高木祥衣、Marc Kaufman
  • 写真提供:川島克巳、川島祐子、佐藤朝記、深田和夫、山岡瑞子、渡部紀久
  • 価格:15,400円。 全エディション署名入り




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