‘japan’ record covers

The eagle-eyed amongst you may be sensing a certain feeling of deja-vu right now, thinking “well, this all seems rather familiar?”  – but there is good reason for me posting a newly-edited version of one of our earlier pieces.

This week, we lost a very lovely man and fellow fan Jonathan Cluroe (1960 – 2015)

He was an active and charming member of our on-line community and was always full of positivity and enthusiasm for all things ‘japan’. He loved his old vinyl and would often post pictures of his turntable playing his chosen music for the day……….hence, it seemed appropriate to re-post this piece, which looks at Steve’s iconic record covers.

So this is posted today with much sadness – for Jonathan, with love and respect – we will miss you, and your hair-related anecdotes, dearly. xxxx


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’. These pictures were a million miles way from the perfectly sculpted images we had been used to seeing of the band; only a few months earlier we had been presented with the almost Newtonesque cover of Gentlemen Take Polaroids and yet here we see them in just a dash of eye-liner, looking sultry and sweaty……. 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 – Steve set the shots up and one of the other members clicked the shutter…..

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 yet least commercial sounding, 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.  However, Steve explained this wasn’t the case….


(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!!!)

Steve has recently added another of the ‘Ghosts’ outtakes to his imageshop – you can read about this in more detail here: https://jansenphotographyblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/the-purchase/

'ghosts' out-take
Shane McElligott’s signed copy of the ‘ghosts’ out-take


2 months later came the final Jansen cover for a Japan release. This one perplexed many fans, as it featured an image of the Japanese photographer, Yuka Fujii – but most people assumed it was a picture of a young Chinese man. Such are the dangers of taking things too literally!  This photograph of Yuka was also featured in the Parco Exhibition in Japan in 1982

SJ 005                          SJ 006

the photos chosen by Steve to be exhibited at the 'parco' show
the photos chosen by Steve to be exhibited at the ‘parco’ show

Bringing us bang up to date, Steve has included some of his own photographs on his more recent ‘download only’ releases, which are available via ‘burning shed’, including this image ‘hotel room, pusan’ on the cover for ‘exit north’

exit north sleeve -  'hotel Room, pusan'
exit north sleeve –
‘hotel Room, pusan’

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

5 thoughts on “‘japan’ record covers

  1. Thanks Victoria, it’s a lovely idea and kindly and beautifully said.
    We will miss you Jonathan. Our hearts go out to you and your loved ones. I’m thinking too of your TMK/Japan Team friends like Craig.
    I didn’t know you well but I find with the way we all communicate that people emit a kind of light, a frequency maybe, that we receive. Yours was very bright and very beautiful. It won’t go out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I find it incredible that nearly 300 people have read this post in 24 hours and that means that each one of them will now know Jonathan’s name, even if they weren’t aware of him previously………so no Pen, his light won’t go out…..I have no belief in an after life but I know that many people are thinking about him and his family tonight, and that’s lovely xx

    Liked by 2 people

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