The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

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Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo

Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo


Interesting report on efforts to save the Nakagin Capsule Tower in the Japan Times here.

Have seen and photographed this unusual and very original building a few times as I walk past it on other photo missions. It has a interesting history and was a unique experiment in finding an answer to housing in a crowded city with limited space.

It may not be to everyones taste but I do hope that it is able to be saved. Even the follies on our architectural evolution are better for us to keep, as we can learn from them.

Think I might have to take a return trip there, with more purpose, just in case, as is unfortunately likely, the developers win and this bizarre addition to the Tokyo skyline disappears.

The Management

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Where the real power lies in Japanese politics

Very busy, talk soon

Damon

Sleeping

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This man can often be seen in Shibuya doing this. I thought he was drunk and exhausted at first but having seen hims few times it now appears that it is some sort of performance art, perhaps a comment on the somnuambulant nightmare that is a salaryman’s life .

All I know is it must be very  tiring to stand like this for long, yet he seems to be able to look relaxed and sleepy while doing it.

Just one of the many wonderful and weird things you can see in Tokyo.

Later

Damon

Home

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An Englishman’s house my well be his castle but unless you are very rich it is unlikely to look much like a castle. In Japan the very, very ordinary life of some salarymen could very well start and finish each day in a house that ticks all the right fantasy palace boxes however.

Amazing architecture is one of the great pleasures of wandering around this country and especially Tokyo. While a lot of the urban vistas you’ll see might be humdrum and even ugly, dotted here and there among the endless screes of concrete are some truly mind-boggling buildings like those above  which I shot in Azubu in May.

Architectural experimentation combined with a pragmatic use of, often very limited, space (see top photo) means that buildings can take on very unique shapes. In my 12 years here I have seen a lot of these follies. I have even sought out some of the more famous ones for a shot or two. I once thought of getting a photographic collection of them together purely for the stock value alone but never really followed through on it. The effort involved in seeking-out each oddity jarred with my serendipitous photo-farming habit on my free days. Plus I didn’t think there would be enough return on it.

Unluckily for me I was wrong apparently because French photographer, Jeremie Souteyrat cleverly used the lack of any competition from me and has now published a book called: Tokyo No Ie – Maisons de Tokyo in which he shows a beautiful collection of his photos cataloguing many of the strangest and most interesting examples of this architecture in Tokyo.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in architecture, Tokyo or photography. It is a great work of art: just the feel of the pages says quality and the photos shine with curiously addictive depths. Even if the urbanity they show is grey and grimy, you will find yourself looking around them, examining every corner of the frame. The focus is of course on the wonderful and bizarre constructions that are the artistic purpose of the book but this is also street photography; more is happening in many of the pictures and you can get an interesting glimpse into parts of Tokyo that many people never go.

So I now no longer need to shoot these type of buildings as Jeremie has cornered the market I think, buy the book though and see why I won’t stop. They are just too interesting a find on a day out. As you trudge the suburbs of Tokyo on a free day or find one on the way to another photo job, that invariably takes place in some boring tower of concrete and glass, they put a smile on your face.

Later

Damon

Six and Counting

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I missed most of the craziness around the iPhone 6 launch in Tokyo yesterday because I had a prior commitment early in the morning but even as I wandered down to Ginza in the afternoon there was still a long queue outside the new Apple store there and crowds of people looking at the new tech in the shop itself. (image above)

I love my iPhone and think it is a great tool to help me in my work but cannot understand why anyone would want to wait outside a shop for hours, even days, to buy one. These launches have now become event that people go to as much for the experience as the product. They dress up, camp-out and seem to have a good time. yet that are there to buy a product and happily part with a lot of money because a company says they should.

It is all a little bit scary that these festivals of consumerism are so important in the calendar now and attract such large numbers of people to the wishes of a corporation. I saw many tradition festivals, called matsuri,  setting up for the weekend as I walked around yesterday. The Equinox arrives on Tuesday and the Japanese people often celebrate the arrival of Autumn by carrying a mikoshi around in a noisy procession. Not saying the religion that created these colourful spectacles is any less of a unhealthy mind-control than consumerism, it isn’t. But it is certainly seems more fun and is considerably cheaper than joining the hoards of iphoners.

Later

Damon

 

Peaceful

Lake Maninjau

Lake Maninjau

Feeling the air of Autumn now in the morning. A different smell and taste here when you wake up. Where I live the mountains are not exactly close by but on certain mornings you are very aware of them.

I spent a lot of my twenties in the mountains both in the UK and abroad. Cold, hard snowy peaks or forested slopes all over the world were places I sought out. Mostly the exposed rocky ridges of temperate ranges where I would test my nerve on climbs  to be true but later, as my ambitions drifted eastwards towards Asia, I found myself in tropical forests too. The air is very different in the jungle but there is an unmistakable familiarity to any vertical geography and even in the crater lake of Danau Maninjau in Sumatra, Indonesia above, despite the palm trees and monkeys, the fishermen and the hideous insects, I felt at home.

This is an old photo I took one morning when I walked down early from the lodges I was staying in the middle of the forest. I wanted to shoot a bit around the edges of the lake itself and enjoyed the refreshing, early-morning temperatures as I descended through the trees that a few hours later would be humid hells. I loved the moist, cooling lake breezes when I arrived and the light as the sun burned the sky and brushed detail into the forested slopes that surround the lake . Maninjau is an amazing place and if you ever have the chance I highly recommend going there.

Off to work in the very urban Tokyo now

Damon

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