Towards the end of the day the Tokyo mass transit becomes rather crowed as the last trains are the last chance to get back home quickly and cheaply. So like on virtually all lines the cars of “my” Keiō Inokashira Line leaving Shibuya turn into cattle cars with people packed in as tightly as possible. I took these photos of the next-to-last train while I was actually waiting for next, the last, train as this one was already too crowded for me when I arrived at the platform… but still people kept entering into the completely filled passenger cars.
The Japanese football team got into the round of sixteen of the 2010 FIFA World cup. Unfortunately, their match against Paraguay was at 11 p.m. local Tokyo time on a Tuesday night (where the last trains leave downtown well before 1 a.m.). Nevertheless I went to Shibuya crossing after having heard that there would be public viewing on the large advertising screens. When I arrived there were already a few thousand football fans gathered on all sides of the scramble crossing but traffic was still ongoing. However, each time the pedestrian crossing lights turned green, the people would roar and run towards each other in the middle of the intersection, dance and jump around while shouting “Nippon, Nippon!” and leave the intersection again after the lights turned red.
Unfortunately, it became clear that there would be no public viewing at the Shibuya crossing as the advertising screens continued to show their regular commercials. After half an hour after I arrived at Shibuya, a large number of Japanese police turned up and began to control the crowd. First they tried to talk the people out of their dangerous behavior, but in the end they changed the flow of traffic by changing the sequence of the traffic signals and herding the crowds with yellow police tape.
Since it was drizzling all the time and with the fun activities curtailed, I left the crossing and went to watch the game on a tv screen in an izakaya in Dōgenzaka. After a long and rather uneventful game Japan lost 3-5 in the penalty shootouts and I had to walk home in the rain.
For this series of street portraits I went to the Shimo-Kitazawa neighborhood in Setagaya-ku this Sunday. It is renowned as a more casual and more alternative entertainment area than Shibuya, so the people were more relaxed and dressed less business-like than the Shibuya crowd. While I was there, the Indie Fanclub festival of local independent rock bands was happening in about a dozen venues, which means my subjects were even more friendlier than usual. Instead of ignoring the camera quite a few people reacted positively, so not all these shots are really candid…
For very small-scale but highly interesting goth events in Tokyo there is the underground network Artism.jp. While the tightly-knit community of performers and patrons is pretty much Japanese-only, foreigners are welcome and so I went to the Gothic Bar Heaven 25 event at Club Crawl in Shibuya to see what’s up with the current Tokyo goth scene. It was a very lightly attended affair, but the performers and bands gave their best nevertheless.
First came Mario † Child (Mario Cross Child), a Japanese duo making a powerful mixture of metal, classic and synthesizer music. As you can see, not only the music, but also their costumes were influenced by Moi dix Mois and similar Visual Kei bands.
The second band of the evening was ManyCuRe, also a duo, but they were supported by two guest musicians. They played very loud, very energetic punk rock in a rough and entertaining performance.
The headliner of the event was the Gothic Rock band Ray Trak with singer Lynne Hobday. Their music reminded me a lot of Faith and the Muse and typical 4AD bands, which is quite a compliment. Their beautiful music was underlined by a strong performance by the band and the supporting “Gothic Fusion Belly Dance” by Neo and Min.
Between the music acts several DJs played electro, EBM and goth music to entertain the patrons. As so often, these were dressed up in elaborate goth and cyberpunk fashion and were fun to photograph while they were dancing on the dancefloor or relaxing in the anteroom.
I went out to Shibuya (the terminus of “my” Inokashira line) to shoot the lights and people in the evening. I wanted to try to capture the contrast of the glittering lights of the modern shopping and entertainment district Shibuya with the worn-out buildings next to it, so I took only my fast 50mm lens. But while I was exploring the area, it started to rain and I turned back towards the station. Halfway there I rested on a bench provided by an electronics store, reviewing the few photos I’d taken. Noticing the still ongoing rush of passers-by unfazed by the light rain, I started taking pictures from right where I sat. I deliberately unfocused the lens, taking advantage of the nice bokeh (rendering of out-of-focus areas) of my glass.
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.
Not just shoppers and cosplayers flock to Harajuku on the weekend, but also many other street musicians go there to practise, entertain the passers-by and promote their work and projects. Here the guitarist Shunsuke Watanabe (渡辺駿介) of the Japanese band Bals (バルス) sits in the vicinity of the Harajuku station and performs some live guitar music.
I miss the bulk of the cosplayer which gathered on the Harajuku bridge on Sundays. A couple of years ago, there were lots of young people coming here to meet their friends and be seen by other people. Many dozens would “costume play” in public and be open for photography. Recently only a very small number of cosplayers come to Harajuku bridge and most of them are not that friendly or good anymore.
However, I do check the location from time to time and this Sunday some very interesting cosplays were on display. Without any doubt this old man took the cake when it came to cosplay design and presentation. He was dressed up as some kind of bespectacled old woman with a huge headdresss with dolls and live goldfish earrings. I don’t know if he is cosplaying an actual anime/manga character or if this cosplay is of his own design, but he is quite famous for it. His name is Eijirō Miyamae, but around here he is know as the “Harajuku ojisan” (原宿おじさん) and it was a pleasure to take some pictures of him.