Kikuji Kawada, who was born in 1933 came to maturity during the era of postwar reconstruction in Japan. A self-taught photographer, he consistently addresses the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese political consciousness and national symbols, and, in general, the aftermath of war in Japan. In 1955, after completing an economics degree at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Kawada went to work as a staff photographer at the Shinchosha publishing house. He quit in 1959 to pursue a career as a freelance photographer and the same year had his first solo exhibition, 'Sea', at the Fuji Photo Salon in Tokyo. The subject matter of this show, images of nuclear testing, indicated the direction much of Kawada's efforts would take in the ensuring years. Also in 1959, Kawada joined Narahara, Tomatsu, Sato, Tanno and Hosoe in forming VIVO, the famous self-managed photography agency. In addition to his frequent international trips and teaching position at Tama Art Academy, Kawada's several exhibitions and limited-edition publications established his reputation in the 1960s. His 1961 solo exhibition 'The Map' contained a series of symbolic images inspired by World War II and its aftermath. Another publication, 'Sacré Atavism' (1971), includes six chapters dealing with the grotesque that highlight Kawada's strong anti classicism and individual vision. Kawada established a reputation in the US via his inclusion in the New Japanese Photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1979. His longest lasting and renowned series 'The Last Cosmology'  was captured between 1980 and 2000. Originally published in parts in the 1980s, it was compiled into a publication and solo exhibition in 1995. The series seemingly ties together the dramas of the skies with the end of two historical eras on earth: the ‘Showa’ era with the death of the Emperor in Japan and the 20th century. Kawada received the annual award from the Photographic Society of Japan in 1996 as well as the domestic photography award at the Higashikawa International Photography Festival in the same year. 

In 2004, he received the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts.

In 2014, his solo exhibitions, both titled 'The Last Cosmology'', were held at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London and L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, NY.

His works are included in the collections of Museum of Modern Art New York, Museum of Fine Art Houston, Museum of Fine Art Boston, Tate Modern, SF Museum of Modern Art, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, Tokyo Polytechnic University, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.