There are quite a few Japanese street photographers on Google+ and there’s something about the style of street photography from Japan – and, particularly, that from the big cities such as Tokyo – that always appeals to me. And it’s not just the occasional Godzilla sighting or tentacle-related attack on schoolgirls that creeps into every series of photos (although that doesn’t hurt); rather, it’s the buzz of activity, the claustrophobia, the closeness of the shots, the prevalence of nighttime-shooting with its Blade Runner-feeling neon and rain… it’s all of that together and many more intangible things.
In short: I really like Japanese street photography. So, here are some shots from one of its proponents who I happen to follow:
Beautiful tones in this shot; the low contrast, subject matter, and presence of those lines make this look like Tadashi travelled back in time to the 1950s to snap the photo. And there’s every chance he did. Tokyo is still a hub of amazing, emerging technologies.
You can’t engage in street photography for long in Tokyo without taking a picture of the metro system. It’s actually a law – and one of the more sensible ones in case you’re wondering – and it’s nice to see that Tadashi is no lawbreaker.
Photographer in front of her, photographer behind her, and she picked this day of all days to dress up in her wampa outfit. No wonder she’s sporting an icy stare. Icy! It’s a pun!
One of the great services to mankind that a street photographer can do – and there aren’t many, admittedly – is capture those aspects of society that we aren’t always comfortable being reminded of. Here, Tadashi has convinced a nose-bunger to pose for a portrait. Nose-bunging is one of those taboo activities in the far east of Asia, rarely discussed, hardly ever documented. Great, poignant shot.
Street art isn’t very popular in Tokyo as most Japanese art needs to be pixellated but occasionally something different appears and the street photographer is usually on hand to illuminate it. In this case: are we our possessions or are our possessions us? And if we are our possessions and our possessions are mostly cardboard boxes will we get soggy when it rains? Thought-provoking.
A not-overly-concerned citizen looks up as Mothra once again fills the sky.
There’s a belief that everything is smaller and better in Japan – think of Japan as the anti-Texas if you will – and while this isn’t strictly true it does hold out for their superheroes.
Another picture from the Tokyo metro which is notable for the fact that the dozing couple along with the photographer himself are clearly – if I understand the sticker on the glass to the left correctly – in a furries-only carriage. In other words, they’re breaking the law! We can only hope that Tadashi hasn’t let himself down by doing the same and must assume that he’s dressed like a badger for this shot.
There’s an old, old saying in Tokyo: Will somebody please stop that man from performing non-stop John Travolta dance moves in the Bunkyo district? He’s going to hurt someone! Well, nobody’s stopped him yet and nobody’s got hurt so we can surmise that Japanese sayings are a bit strange and not particularly useful. Tadashi captures this perfectly.
An odd trend in the Japanese capital in recent years has been walking backwards across one-way pedestrian crossings. Even the street photographer finds himself swept up in the fad but still manages to fire off a shot that shows there are still hold-outs – just one woman in this instance – to the old way of doing things. Fashions comes and fashions go.
Another great example of new technology in use in Asia and due to make an appearance in the west once it’s been fully tested is the street cloning booth. From the look of this photo a schoolgirl has decided she might need some doppelganger assistance to complete her homework. With the pressure to score well in tests in Japan still very high who can blame her?
While this also looks like the cloning booth has been in operation that’s not actually the case; this is simply a form of guerilla advertising designed to appeal to men who like looking at women in short dresses, women who like umbrellas, and people of either sex who get irritated when a shopping cart catches their shins. It’s great to see that Tadashi has caught not only them in this street photo but also a passerby who clearly falls outside their target demographic. Marketing is a science but it’s not an exact one. Like biology.
Yeah, it’s Mothra again.
Check out more of Tadashi Yamashita’s street photos on his Google+ page.