The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Not really there

ShinjukukabukichoSugamo Shadow 

As my time left in Japan  shortens, I am looking around with fresh eyes again at all that has become so familiar and once again finding it amazing. Tokyo is not a boring city anyway, its colours, energy and personalities really are “experiences”; the place smacks you on the head and demands attention. Yet it also enjoys the enigmas such communions leave you with.

Yet all of us here work it out somehow. It takes a while and the path is not an easy one but after several years we think we understand the place. That of course is a mistake as anyone who has had a visitor from home will tell you. So many things here are unexplainable really. We are used to them but that doesn`t completely account for their existance and as friends and family ask difficult questions about love-hotels and dog boutiques or Fugu sushi and wild haired hosts or a million other mudane, day to day Japanese experiences we find we cannot explain exactly why or how. These things just are.

Japan is in someways an invisible experience. The parts may be jarringly different but the sum of them is always uniquely Japanese, so much so that a tattooed Yakuza in Kabukicho can look a lot closer in character to a priest walking some mountain trail than you could ever imagine. That thing which is not really there is the essential Japan and getting it and photographing it is a skill beyond language ability or photographic technique.

Talking of photographing what is not really there I came across Pieter Ten Hoopen`s photo story on Kitezh in Russia. This is a town of legend and history and a town that is not really there. I like the pics he has: ghostly yet hard-hitting in their journalism, mysterious but direct. Have a look here it`s interesting work.

I shouldn`t be here now as I`m busy with day jobs so see ya!

Damon

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