Not since watching Babe have we seen such a stirring ode to the bond between a farmer and his pig(s). In Pigs and Papa, Kagawa-based photographer Toshiteru Yamaji captures the affectionate, fatherly relationship between a pig farmer named Otchan and his 1,200 pigs. Otchan puts his pigs on leashes when he goes for a stroll, and cuddles with them as one might human babies. He even serenades them, with an acoustic guitar accompaniment, while they’re lounging around in their sties.
Yamaji was born in 1937 in the Japanese city of Kagawa. He worked for 24 years as a city officer in fisheries, agriculture, and forestry, which is how he met Otchan, who treats his pigs like they’re his family. In the age of an industrial meat industry with brutal slaughterhouse conditions that most people try not to think about, Yamaji’s series is a painful, touching reminder of how loveable pigs are.
Yamaji has been photographing Otchan for more than a decade, and self-published a book of his porcine portraits back in 2011. Idea Books picked up the series for re-publishing. You can order it here.