Toru Hanai

Toru Hanai

Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
“I respect modest, quiet photographers”


I cover general news, economic and business news, sports, entertainment and features.

One Shot

. OFUNATO, Japan. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A volunteer cleans a family photo that was washed up by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at a volunteer centre in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture.
“This picture is significant to me as it was the first time I won prizes for my work. It struck me that although there were many photos being cleaned, they were all pictures of the same baby. I think the parents must have photographed their child every day.”


As a child I loved to take photos of cars and motorcycles and my earliest memory of photography is of going to the Tokyo Motor Show when I was ten. I was really enthusiastic and shot a lot of pictures but because film was so expensive I got into trouble with my mother.

I learnt photography while studying at the Nihon University College of Art.

My first professional assignment was covering a movie premiere in 1996. I was completely absorbed by the job, but was more pleased at meeting my favourite actress than with my photography.

I will never forget the earthquake and tsunami in 2011; it was one of the worst disasters my country has faced and left a profound mark on me. I had never seen hundreds of dead bodies in a day, or so many dead children who looked like my kids. I was also impressed by the bravery and determination of people who had lost absolutely everything.

I love covering sports, especially the Olympics and the soccer World Cup, because they are the world’s biggest sporting events.

For me, photography is all about prediction - you have to press the shutter before the moment happens.

I’ve learnt the most from small day-to-day mistakes.

I respect modest, quiet photographers, this is what I aspire to.

Behind the Scenes

Reuters photographer Toru Hanai is reflected in a mirror in an area damaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki.