Sasamoto was born in Tokyo, Japan. She went to college of home economics, but quit because she had an ambition to become a painter. After the dropout, she went to an institute of painting (without telling parents) and a dressmaking school.
Sasamoto started her career as a part-time illustrator on the local news pages in Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun (now Mainichi Shimbun, one of the newspapers in Japan). At 26, she got promoted to a probationary employee in 1940 when she joined the Photographic Society in Japan, officially becoming the first female photojournalist in Japan. She calls Margaret Bourke-White a major influence in why she became a photographer. Sasamoto photographed subjects from General Douglas MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan to striking coalminers and protesting students.
She published a photo book in 2011 called Hyakusai no Finder, or Centenarian’s Finder. In 2014, Sasamoto had an exhibit of her work from her 2011 book called Hyakusai Ten, or, Centenarian’s Exhibition. In 2015, Sasamoto published another book, Inquisitive Girl at 101. She broke her left hand and both legs in 2015 but continues to photograph. Sasamoto is currently working on a project called Hana Akari, or Flower Glow. The book is in honor of her friends who have died.
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