Japan record covers


Steve’s first foray into photographing the band specifically for a record sleeve came in 1981 with The Art of Parties. The photos were taken at Mick’s flat, a bucket of water on hand to give the impression of tropical humidity…….and resulted in these beautifully captured portraits of each of the members of Japan. The ltd edition 7″ fold out version (which is featured here) is, without doubt, my favourite Japan sleeve……

SJ 007                            SJ 014

SJ 009                            SJ 010

SJ 011                          SJ 008

Not so much another infamous Jansen “selfie” when it came to his photo but – “I set the shots up then took my turn at the end, and one of the band clicked the shutter.” (Dec 2014)

SJ 013                         SJ 012


In October 1981, Visions of China was released and this Jansen cover, featuring a segment of the iconic picture of Chariman Mao, alluded to what was to follow – the Tin Drum cover would also feature this picture of Mao  – and the emerging interest that the band had developed in Chinese music.

SJ 003                         SJ 004


Masami Tsuchiya (& Mao)  photographed in Kensington by Steve Jansen


March 1982 saw the release of Japan’s most successful, and least commercial, single…….the photo that featured on the 7″ version was taken by Steve, on the roof of his flat.

SJ 001                          SJ 002

Confusingly, the photo which features on the 12″ version (below) was credited to Yuka Fujii and, due to the similarities in style, I had always assumed the 2 were taken at the same session. Steve claims this isn’t so.


(photo by Yuka Fujii)

“they were not taken at the same time, (as far as my memory serves) – I don’t even know which session came first. Mine were taken on the roof of my London flat which was only accessible via a very difficult to negotiate skylight suspended over a deep stairwell (and this was not a flat roof) and the purpose was to experiment with infra-red film, but as it turned out the location had no bearing whatsoever on the shot used for the cover.”  Steve Jansen (Dec 2014)


David Sylvian – shot on infra-red monochrome film on the rooftop of 23 Stanhope Gardens, London, for ‘Ghosts’ cover (shortly before Steve fell through the skylight – I kid you not!!!)


2 months later came the final Jansen cover for a Japan release. This one perplexed many fans, as it featured a photograph of Yuka Fujii, David’s Japanese partner – but most people assumed it was a picture of a young Chinese man. Such are the dangers of taking things too literally!

SJ 005                          SJ 006

This photograph of Yuka was also featured in the Parco Exhibition in Japan in 1982

Details of how to purchase one of Steve’s prints can be found here: http://www.stevejansen.com/imageshop/

15 thoughts on “Japan record covers

  1. Thanks Daniela – yes, we are very lucky that Steve is happy to share odd snippets of info with us. His story about falling through the skylight is hilarious (although I am sure he didn’t think so at the time)…..he obviously suffered for his art! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So, I’ve finally found out it was you, who’d taken these pic’s Steve. Don’t remember why I didnt look at the sleaves propperly back then. Gr8 to see them on here 🙂
    Ya friendly neighbourhood Essex Skin, Jay ! 🙂


  3. Wonderful photos, wonderful blog! It’s so lovely to hear all these details behind the taking of these photos…thanks to Steve and thank you, Victoria! (P.S. Ouch! re the fall through the skylight! I would love to hear that anecdote sometime, if possible…?)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Becky!
    Steve was taking the shots for the Ghosts sleeve on the roof of his flat. He fell through the skylight, “which was suspended over a deep stairwell……. the fact that I fell through the skylight, but was saved from more serious injury by metal bars that were there for that very reason, has never truly been appreciated.”

    Liked by 1 person

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