A wonderfully expressive Japanese face

Walking round Tokyo, and especially when riding the city’s trains, it’s common to be met with a myriad of blank, impassive faces. An experience that the regular use of surgical masks only adds to.

This man, however, is different. Quite wonderfully different.



  1. says

    He’s not really sure yet what to think of you :-) But you’re right, in the large cities it is all about not showing any expressions, the countryside is quite different.

    • says

      I’m happy to say that his expression wasn’t caused be me. It was the very same look that made me aware of him further up the street, and luckily he maintained it long enough for me to get the shot. Well, either that or he’d actually seen me before I saw him!

      Yes, couldn’t agree more about the countryside. A very different place.

  2. Willy says

    I can almost hear raspy words emerging from under that pout … ‘ore wa ne.. chiisai toki wa ne.. ‘ (well, you know, when i was young…) …and there begins an unwritten story that is getting closer to its end, but nevertheless a very real story… What a picture!
    thought provoking…

    • says

      That’s a great way of looking at it. He certainly seems like he has a few stories to tell. No doubt a few good ones still left to live, too.

    • says


      And thanks for the link. I knew about duck lips, but sparrow face is a new one. Not that I’d attempt to distinguish them!

  3. Evan says

    Ongoing rictus / uncontrollable facial expressions; clenched pollex; slight unnatural head angle.

    It seems likely that he is experiencing a malady, probably not, but similar to Multiple Sclerosis.

    As I understand it, Japanese culture is acutely uncomfortable with personal abnormalities; It must be tough to be an unintentional outcast.

    • says

      Oh, that’s good to know. I saw him as interesting in a positive way. Still do. But that puts things in a very different light. Thanks a lot for letting me know. And kindly, too.

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