Girl DP: Akiko Ashizawa
It was pretty hard to track down the more technical info on Akiko Ashizawa's work (even her own website is sort of sparse) but so far I like her.
The website for one of her more recent films, Tokyo Sonata, gave this bio:
Born in Tokyo, Akiko Ashizawa led a unique career as one of the very few female cinematographers in Japan. Since becoming an independent Director of Photography in 1982, Ashizawa has worked in several TV commercial films. She worked as a cinematographer for UNLOVED (2001), the winner of the Ecumenical Jury for Upcoming Talent. Ashizawa has previously worked as a cinematographer for RETRIBUTION, Kurosawa’s latest horror film in 2006. Ashizawa is also an accomplished documentarian and has shot SHANGHAI PEKING OPERA PARADISE in China and DON’T ASK FOR YOUR MOTHER’S BREAST, which chronicled the AIDS orphans and the problem of mother-to-child infection of AIDS in Thailand and India.
Tokyo Sonata was directed by acclaimed Japanese horror film auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It was the "only Japanese film to receive an award at the Cannes Film Festival 2008 (Jury Prize winner of Un Certain Regard)." Here are a couple stills I particularly liked:
Ashizawa herself comments on the start of her career in the bio section of her website:
"At that time, I began to work part-time in order to make money for 8mm films. Director Mamoru Watanabe of porn films happened to be recruiting staff members. I began to work under him, thinking I could learn so much working in the movie industry because I was already involved with 8mm filming. Though the hard reality was beyond all my imagination, the overwhelming joy of this job really made me "fall into this world", I'm telling you.
It was after my graduation that I met Mr. Hideo Ito, cameraman of Tokyo Eiga (Tokyo Cinema). I worked under him as an apprentice of his assistant cameraman. In those days, few women worked as a cameraman, so I was a surprise to everyone, everywhere. People who worked with me seemed to be at a loss on how to deal with me. I myself was so absorbed in the work that I didn't care about anything around me. Now I'm afraid I was a big pain in the neck without noticing."
Training while working for a porn director... So much more interesting than these other bios let on. Make sure to explore her site to read the rest of her bio and learn about a few of her films. I don't think it has been recently updated.
Ashizawa's most recent films include Shiawase no kaori (aka Flavor of Happiness) and Kimi no tomodachi.