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.
T-shirts are a wonderful source for Engrish in Japan. Western rōmaji (latin letters) are cool and modern, so on casual clothing English is often depicted (virtually no real Japanese wears clothes with Japanese letters). However, sometimes things go wrong, resulting in mangled words or strange misspellings.
This ¥6850 t-shirt has some Engrish nonsense on it:
New! Halume’s Milky Corpolate with a mode
Sweet label Damianne Halume
Design by Pelouse co.ltd.
We want to be a corpolate like a chocolate for our custmer.
Another one of those remarkable decorations of Japanese shops and restaurants. This ceramic pig was seen in a rāmen-ya on the Shinjuku-dōri in Shinjuku. It’s kinda cute, but at the same time kinda creepy, because for some people the idea of having a pig as a cook is a little bit disturbing…
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.
This Saturday I was invited to the newly-opened Tabloid studio/club/gallery in Hinode, Minato-ku, where the Art Hotel Nest Tokyo is residing. The fashion designer Yoshikazu Yamagata (山縣良和) and his writtenafterwards label presented his latest fashions designs in a show titled “Crime and Punishment”. I got a good position to photograph the runway and present you here a couple of photos from this event. By the way, the models were wearing white make-up and crude wigs — they really looked like this.
After the presentation I walked around and shot a little bit of the other installations from Yamagata’s students of the “coconogacco” class.
These pea-sized “berries” are actually the latest trend in solanaceous horticulture: micro tomatoes. Called “maikuro tomato” (マイクロトマト) in Japan, this fruit is the dwarf brother of the regular tomato plant and is said to be even more delicious than the regular stuff. I haven’t seen these fruits before, but in the Tōkyū department store food court there was a huge collection of tomatoes in all sizes, colors and flavors (some produce, like this one, pretty expensive).
Like any modern democracy, Japan has its fair share of political fringe parties. On my return from Shibuya I came across the loudspeaking truck of the so-called “Happiness Realization Party” (幸福実現党). While the name sounds characteristically Japanese cute, they are actually the political front of a cult-like spiritual movement. Their goals are a mixture of very agreeable policies for Japan’s future, jingoist fear mongering about North Korea and the “Happy Science” religious doctrines and donations acquiring.
I could spend hours photographing the weird and wonderful stuff that the toy store Kiddy Land on Omote-sandō in Harajuku offers. For now I just snapped a picture of “useful socks” that were on display, and only because the spelling mistake caught my eye.