Yato Tamotsu (1928(?) - May 1973) was a Japanese photographer and occasional actor responsible for pioneering Japanese homoerotic photography and creating iconic black-and-white images of the Japanese male. He was a friend and collaborator of the writer Mishima Yukio and the film critic Donald Richie, as well as a long-term romantic partner of Meredith Weatherby, an expatriate American publisher and translator of Mishima's works into English. Yato completed three volumes of photography.
Even though Yato's work received only a limited public distribution, it has attained a cult following and has been acknowledged as a major influence by a number of artists working with male erotica. Thus, Hasegawa Sadao remarks in his Paradise Visions: "Tamotsu Yato achieved fame by creating Otoko, a picture book. He photographed Mishima Yukio, nude. His subjects: traditional, muscular, unsophisticated countryside men, are mostly extinct today. Otoko was valuable because you could see these long-bodied, stout-legged, cropped hair, square-jawed men... Good-bye, men of Nippon!"
Books by Tamotsu Yato
• Taido: Nihon no bodibirudâ-tachi. Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1966; English version: Young Samurai: Bodybuilders of Japan, New York: Grove Press, 1967. With an introduction by Mishima Yukio.
• Hadaka matsuri. Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppansha, 1969; English version: Naked festival: A Photo-Essay, New York/Tokyo: John Weatherhill, 1968. With an introduction by Yukio Mishima and essays by Tatsuo Hagiwara, Mutsuro Takahashi, and Kozo Yamaji. Translated and adapted for Western readers by Meredith Weatherby and Teshima Sachiko.
• Otoko: Photo-Studies of the Young Japanese Male, Los Angeles: Rho-Delta Press, 1972. Dedicated to the memory of Mishima Yukio.