Tokyo ranks extremely highly on my top places in the world for street photography – the sheer visual difference notwithstanding, it is also an extremely tolerant society to photography, and photography of random people in public. Everybody is doing it to the point that nobody notices anymore; however, unlike in other parts of the world where camera phones dominate, there are plenty of people using more serious equipment, too. Blending in has never been much of a problem. That difference I mentioned earlier is eroding somewhat, though. Once again, globalisation has meant that a lot of the more unique ‘character’ areas of the city are becoming clones of international streets (or vice versa) or even other parts of Tokyo; the area around almost any major railway station is the same, for instance – an agglomeration of fast food eateries, convenience stores, and one or two major chains plus a business hotel. It’s a formula that probably works for practicality, but not so much to keep the world an interesting place for its inhabitants.
Perhaps the slow homogenisation of the world is something that you only see if you visit enough corners of it at a regular rate – I’ve somehow managed to land up in Tokyo every year for the last five or six years, and I’m never quite sure whether it’s me becoming increasingly accustomed to it, or every major city on the planet starting to feel very much the same beyond its identifying landmarks and geography. It certainly makes it more of a challenge to find interesting images. I only had good light for a couple of days of this trip, but during those days, the images practically made themselves. I just aimed the camera. I should add that I’ve never thought of myself as a street photographer in the conventional sense; I just make observations on life as I go through it. Enjoy! MT
Limited edition Ultraprints of these images and others are available from mingthein.gallery
Visit the Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including workshop and Photoshop Workflow videos and the customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!
Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved