May 272010
 



 
I love documenting people on the street. I am a street photographer at heart and I am especially fond of shooting candid portraits of everyday people, showing their style, clothing, and expressions when walking in public. The fashion hub Shibuya with its millions of commuters, shoppers and visitors is my favorite hunting ground for this photographic endeavor where I try to capture my subjects unaware.

Japanese girl with a stylish face mask.
Japanese girl with a stylish face mask.
Conservatively dressed office lady with mobile flip-phone.
Conservatively dressed office lady with mobile flip-phone.
Japanese girl with a mop-top haircut and another one of them ubiquitous cell phones.
Japanese girl with a mop-top haircut and another one of them ubiquitous cell phones.
Japanese guy rubbing his nose next to his girlfriend.
Japanese guy rubbing his nose next to his girlfriend.
Handsome Japanese boy dressed in red.
Handsome Japanese boy dressed in red.
Japanese boy with a fake tan and a fake leather jacket.
Japanese boy with a fake tan and a fake leather jacket.
Stylish Japanese girl with orange hair half-hidden behind a salaryman.
Stylish Japanese girl with orange hair half-hidden behind a salaryman.
Girl with long brown hair and black cap.
Girl with long brown hair and black cap.
Japanese guy with cap and "Where have all the good time gone..." t-shirt.
Japanese guy with cap and "Where have all the good time gone..." t-shirt.
Sad Japanese girl staring at her cell phone.
Sad Japanese girl staring at her cell phone.
Thinking she is unseen in public, this young woman twists her mouth while she walks.
Thinking she is unseen in public, this young woman twists her mouth while she walks.
Japanese lady with cell phone looking for something (or someone).
Japanese lady with cell phone looking for something (or someone).
 Posted by at 18:57
May 212010
 



 
The Aroma Garden massage parlor in Shibuya seems to have some problems with its foreign customers. While the Japanese know what to expect and how to behave, their English-speaking clients are apparently hoping for something… different. So they put up a second sign stating: “Welcome! Aroma Massage. Not adult entertainment. Only beautiful girls.” I hope it helps…

 Posted by at 18:29
May 182010
 

The Gōtoku-ji temple in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, is the temple of the original maneki neko (beckoning cat). Legend has it, that in this temple a monk was looking after a stray cat, spending his time and food to feed and care for it. His superior was annoyed by this, saying, “Why do you care so much for this stray animal? There is no use (and profit) to waste one’s time for a cat!”

While cats nowadays are considered to be very kawaii (cute) in Japan, their character is seen less favorable. Unlike dogs, cats are seen as illoyal, shifty and devious… For example, there is not one Japanese family name that has the 猫 (cat) kanji in it. So a cat would not be seen as proper company for monk. However, the monk in this legend kept the cat and the cat was always around at the temple, which was just one of many small, poor Buddhist temples at that time.

One night the mighty feudal lord Ii Naotaka was traveling close to the temple in a dark and stormy night. He and his entourage sought shelter under a tree, hoping the terrible thunderstorm would soon pass. As he spied into the night, he saw in the distance a white cat beckoning him with its paw. Curiously he went out into the storm to the cat and discovered the Gōtoku-ji temple he had not seen before. Just as he arrived at the temple, a lightning struck the tree under which he had sought shelter before. He realized that if it hadn’t been for the cat he would have been killed.

After that, he gave a large donation to the temple, making everyone around happy and turning the small
Gōtoku-ji temple into one of the most prosperous and largest places of worship in the area. Since that time, cats have been considered wise and lucky spirits (in addition to all the negative things connected to them).

When I visited the location, the main temple building was already closed. But I checked out the votive tablets with prayers and the shelf were visitors place maneki nekos that can be bought at the temple office. Having recently lost my cat to myocardiopathy, it was heartbreaking to read all the ema on which people put prayers for the health and long life of their cats.

An ema with a prayer for a healthy and long life of the two cats Mai-chan and Kuri-chan.
An ema with a prayer for a healthy and long life of the two cats Mai-chan and Kuri-chan.
The place where the prayer plaques are hung. They cost ¥500 and you can write your wish on them in any language.
The place where the prayer plaques are hung. They cost ¥500 and you can write your wish on them in any language.
Maneki Nekos in all sizes can be bought at the temple office. This is the shelf where you put them after a prayer has been answered.
Maneki Nekos in all sizes can be bought at the temple office. This is the shelf where you put them after a prayer has been answered.
The Lucky Cats come in many sizes (and the larger ones cost around ¥6000, I think).
The Lucky Cats come in many sizes (and the larger ones cost around ¥6000, I think).
The shelf with the cat statues looks so beautiful. Each one represents a donation for a real cat by its owner.
The shelf with the cat statues looks so beautiful. Each one represents a donation for a real cat by its owner.
Someone put a small non-Gōtoku-ji maneki neko on the shelf, but apparently it is being tolerated.
Someone put a small non-Gōtoku-ji maneki neko on the shelf, but apparently it is being tolerated.
Even if they are damaged the cat figurines are not removed.
Even if they are damaged the cat figurines are not removed.
Another non-Gōtoku-ji cat that is hidden behind all the regular maneki neko.
Another non-Gōtoku-ji cat that is hidden behind all the regular maneki neko.
Also on the temple grounds there is large cemetery with many old and impressive graves.
Also on the temple grounds there is large cemetery with many old and impressive graves.
 Posted by at 19:59
May 152010
 

Having covered the art of the Design Festa vol.31 in my previous post, I present you here a collection of photos of the people I saw at this art event. As with the previous shots it is a random collection of exhibitors, performers and visitors — don’t ask me for details…

I love the bustling creative chaos of the Design Festa. Many people grab the chance to dress up themselves. Stall owners present themselves as their alter egos or creative inventions, trying to impress the visitors so that they may stop and take a look at their artworks and merchandise. Others are performers or cosplayers, just dressed up for the hell of it. So in many ways it is very Japanese — a restrained outlet for one’s individuality and passions in a controlled and acceptable environment.

A Korean illustrator dressed up as the main character of his artworks - some kind of boxy bird.
A Korean illustrator dressed up as the main character of his artworks - some kind of boxy bird.
Two people - one with a tiger suit - promote their booth by walking around.
Two people - one with a tiger suit - promote their booth by walking around.
I think this person in a schoolgirl's uniform with an oversized red bunny head is not only presenting the pictured paintings, but also a band called "Amanda".
I think this person in a schoolgirl's uniform with an oversized red bunny head is not only presenting the pictured paintings, but also a band called "Amanda".
This booth caters to "reenactors" - selling doll masks to male cosplayers who dress up as female manga characters.
This booth caters to "reenactors" - selling doll masks to male cosplayers who dress up as female manga characters.
Some nice paintings of weird situations and the girl who created them.
Some nice paintings of weird situations and the girl who created them.
An old Japanese guy dressed in a dark-blue sailor suit who just walked around on the Design Festa event, getting lots of attention and loving every minute of it.
An old Japanese guy dressed in a dark-blue sailor suit who just walked around on the Design Festa event, getting lots of attention and loving every minute of it.
In contrast to the previous picture here is a real Japanese schoolgirl artist: Akayuki-hime (赤雪姫).⁽¹⁾
In contrast to the previous picture here is a real Japanese schoolgirl artist: Akayuki-hime (赤雪姫).⁽¹⁾
The Japanese cyberpunk industrial band Psydoll performs at the Design Festa live stage.⁽²⁾
The Japanese cyberpunk industrial band Psydoll performs at the Design Festa live stage.⁽²⁾
The beer chicks at the Bar Cherry next to the outdoor stage selling alcoholic refreshments.
The beer chicks at the Bar Cherry next to the outdoor stage selling alcoholic refreshments.
This Japanese guy dressed in a gray jumpsuit and a balaclava was walking around beating a drum and promoting some booth number.
This Japanese guy dressed in a gray jumpsuit and a balaclava was walking around beating a drum and promoting some booth number.
A female cosplayer with a purple wig in her booth selling photos of herself modeling.
A female cosplayer with a purple wig in her booth selling photos of herself modeling.
Three Japanese performers dressed up as some weird kind of Indians.
Three Japanese performers dressed up as some weird kind of Indians.
A group of Japanese "Alice in Wonderland" cosplayers.
A group of Japanese "Alice in Wonderland" cosplayers.
Japanese fetish model Moira Gabriel Coco with her naughty schoolgirl and rubber ducky shtik.⁽³⁾
Japanese fetish model Moira Gabriel Coco with her naughty schoolgirl and rubber ducky shtik.⁽³⁾
No, I have no idea what this is supposed to be...
No, I have no idea what this is supposed to be...
A paper artist wearing two of his creations - a demon mask and a dragon hand puppet.
A paper artist wearing two of his creations - a demon mask and a dragon hand puppet.
Covered in stickers of shoes, I think this guy is promoting a shoe seller.
Covered in stickers of shoes, I think this guy is promoting a shoe seller.
The amazing woodblock printmaker David Bull shows his lasted piece of art.⁽⁴⁾
The amazing woodblock printmaker David Bull shows his lasted piece of art.⁽⁴⁾

 

¹ http://akayuki-hime.com
² http://www.psydoll.com/index_en.html
³ http://www.myspace.com/moira_chan
http://woodblock.com

 Posted by at 23:44
May 152010
 

The biannual Design Festa Event is the largest arts and design fair in Asia. Thousands of exhibitors from all over the world present their art, covering all kinds of genres, styles and techniques. Tens of thousand of visitors flock to Tokyo Big Sight for two days to look for new ideas, purchase beautiful stuff (everything from jewelery, dolls, clothing and accessories to illustrations, woodprints and postcards) and get inspired by all the creativity and excitement.

As I was a volunteer for the DF itself (doing artist interviews and visitor surveys), I had little time to enjoy the art expo myself. However, I did wander around a bit and shot whatever caught my eye. So here is a random collection of photos of amazing art I discovered at the Design Festa vol.31. Unfortunately, I did not take any notes so I cannot tell you who the respective artists were (way too little time for that). I hope you like the pictures nevertheless. My photos of the people I saw at this event can be seen here.

A huge painting of Tyrannosaurus rex skulls and skeletons.
A huge painting of Tyrannosaurus rex skulls and skeletons.
Wood carving of the Seven Lucky Gods and their Takarabune treasure ship.
Wood carving of the Seven Lucky Gods and their Takarabune treasure ship.
A stuffed albino bunny made of fine white wool.
A stuffed albino bunny made of fine white wool.
"No Music No Life" painting with a cyberpunkish theme.
"No Music No Life" painting with a cyberpunkish theme.
An alternative to the rubber chicken: A rubber cat figure.
An alternative to the rubber chicken: A rubber cat figure.
Stuffed cats with huge eyes and one wearing a kimono.
Stuffed cats with huge eyes and one wearing a kimono.
Real fishes and other small critters processed and preserved so that their bones appear colorful and suspended in some kind of fluid.
Real fishes and other small critters processed and preserved so that their bones appear colorful and suspended in some kind of fluid.
Various small paintings by Natsumi Okuda, one with a teddy bear holding a "Free Hugs" sign.
Various small paintings by Natsumi Okuda, one with a teddy bear holding a "Free Hugs" sign.
A couple of small dolls artfully arranged in a loving position.
A couple of small dolls artfully arranged in a loving position.
 Posted by at 21:21
May 142010
 



 
This poster warns the reader that he must turn off his cell phone when sitting at the “priority seats” (reserved for mothers, disabled persons and seniors). Apparently the electromagnetic waves emitted by the phone may be a problem for people with pacemakers, so switching off the device is suggested. Outside of this danger zone the mobile phone must be set into “manner mode” (silent), lest other passengers are not annoyed by it.

I just love the Japanese warning sign aesthetics: the rude boy and the helpless, unhappy women, suffering under the red radiation of the mobile.

 Posted by at 19:36
May 092010
 



 
A common fixture at the entrance of the Yoyogi park in Harajuku are the rockabilly groups that gather there on the weekend. For hours they like to party to rock ‘n roll, showing off their dance moves and cool blue jeans and black leather retro fashion. While they apparently don’t mind being photographed, everyone keeps their distance as the tattooed members of these groups are rumored to be possible bōsōzoku, yakuza wannabees.

 Posted by at 18:22
May 092010
 



 
The Japanese really are crazy for pets. For many a cat or a dog not only seems to be some kind of status symbol, but also a substitute for a kid. So it is no surprise to see how pamered pets are in public. This Japanese Akita Inu dog is apparently enjoying the ride in his stroller, but wouldn’t walking the dog be more sensible…?

 Posted by at 18:06