The trains in Tokyo may well be a logistical marvel, but traveling on them, at least during the city’s many rush hours, can very often be more akin to mayhem. Out in the countryside, however, it’s a very different story, with slow, local train travel feeling almost therapeutic. A chance to sit back, relax, and let the stresses and strains of daily life gradually fade away.
Typhoon Jebi may well have been on its way, but this man simply wasn’t going to miss Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine.
Last summer, I returned to the UK for the first time in four years — the longest I’ve ever gone without a visit since arriving in Japan just over two decades ago. A period of time that in different ways was traumatic for both me, and the country of my birth. Changes and experiences that made the photographs I took while visiting seem somehow poignant, or at the very least slightly symbolic. The resultant series, along with more of an explanation, can be seen here.
This year, however, things were slightly different. Going back after only a year away made the trip seem much less significant, plus the impact of what I’d been through, and the disappointment surrounding the Brexit vote, were dampened somewhat by the simple passage of time. And yet this summer’s photographic output isn’t all that different from last year. Partly, no doubt, due to the ongoing nature of both sets of events, but it’s probably more to do with the fact that I tend to shoot similar things anyway: people, decay and those unexpected scenes that make being out with a camera so rewarding.
Below then are the photos. Images from a place I used to call home. A country that is altogether familiar, and yet at the same time nowhere near as familiar as it was once.
Seeing people drunk and asleep on the street isn’t all that unusual in Tokyo. In fact, it’s so relatively common that I’ve managed to build up a fair sized series of both men and women publicly sleeping off a very big night out.
Passed out transvestites, on the other hand, are a much rarer breed. So rare in fact that up until recently I’d only ever seen one — this one to be exact.
Now, however, that number has doubled to two.