GLOBAL PRO GALLERY
Born in Tokyo in 1970, he began his career after graduating from Tokyo Visual Arts. In addition to his career as a photographer and educator, he currently runs Gallery Niepce in Tokyo. His series “STREET RAMBLER“ and many others have been published as photobooks. Having held solo and group exhibitions of his work both in Japan and abroad, he received the 24th Tadahiko Hayashi Award in 2015 and the 29th Higashikawa Special Photographer Award in 2013.
As of 2021, the rampant coronavirus pandemic still affects the world. As a photographer, the pandemic has complicated both international travel and local street photography. Since I am unable to fully engage in either of these things I have shifted my focus to a theme of longtime interest: Japanese port towns.
Japan, as an island nation obviously has countless port towns. However, not all are the same.
Specifically, I am focusing on the so-called “open ports” of Hakodate, Niigata, Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Hyogo (Kobe). These ports were designated as one open to foreign trade in the mid 1800s at the end of the Edo period.
For now, I have composed work taken in four cities; Hakodate, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki. As the first places in Japan where Western and Chinese cultures were allowed to enter, these port towns retain a unique, exotic atmosphere. Here one can find remnants of the Chinatowns and foreign settlements. Here, streets lined with Western-style buildings built from the Meiji to Showa eras still retain a sense of a stateless existence that’s not found in other cities in Japan.
However, I would like to capture not simply nostalgia for the past but rather the current, ongoing port city that emerges from such a historical landscape.
If we consider the coronavirus pandemic as a modern disaster spread by our highly globalized society, I feel that the five open port towns, places which can be said to be the origin of Japan's internationalization, have something in common with our current age.
For these pictures I use the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO- a compact, single focus lens. With a 40mm full-frame equivalent angle of view, it can be said to offer you a semi-standard focal length. It’s a versatile lens that can be used as a standard wide-angle lens depending on your position from your subject. The light weight of the Micro Four Thirds system greatly reduced the physical burden of carrying gear on my travels, and I am grateful that it allowed me great mobility while exploring these port towns.