At 96, Tsuneko Sasamoto, Japan's first female photojournalist, remains a remarkable force of energy, creativity and inspiration. Dubbed a "plucky pioneer" and "the Annie Liebovitz of her day," Sasamoto has photographed some of Japan's greatest personalities and historical moments during her 70-year career. Though widely published in Japan, she is a hidden gem for international audiences.

"She saw Showa,"an upcoming exhibition of her postwar Showa Era images from 1945-1958 at Cosmo Gallery in Kamimeguro, is an excellent opportunity to learn about this extraordinary woman. Organized by writer Kate Klippensteen and her partner, photographer Yasuo Konishi, the works on display reveal Sasamoto's distinctive documentary style and natural approach to portraiture, which was unique among her male counterparts of the day.

Like any pioneer, Sasamoto is no stranger to challenges. Her life has not been easy. "Originally I wanted to be a painter," she recalls. "But my father didn't allow it, saying, 'It's not what a woman should be.' " She tried college, but dropped out and then pursued illustration and pattern-making; the start of her long love for fashion.