The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Faster than a speeding bullet (train)

Well not quite, but 800 asa did manage to get some of the speed of these great trains across as well as pick out the salaryman on the platform with not too much noise for a night shoot in Shinbashi the other day.

This area of Tokyo is quintessential “salarymanland” and a great place for people watching. In front of the steam train outside the station the corporate samurai of Japan Inc gather and wait most evenings to meet up with after-work friends and go for drinks (and more) in the slighty seedy area of bars and hostess clubs nearby.

Such a huge gathering of everyman Japanese of course attracts those that see them as their base supporters or customers. Advertizing hoardings and large TV screens attached to buildings call out to those waiting below about vanity products from cars to male cosmetics; nationlists atop black sound trucks meanwhile appeal to their political pride and ignorance and TV crews find rich picking in “vox pox” opinions from slightly pickled men in shirts and ties who usually don`t get asked their feelings about anything. Indeed while I was there FOUR television camera crews were interviewing people about various subjects, including a reporter from Al Jazeera who didn`t speak Japanese. I even got asked my take on Japanese politics by a crew from Nippon TV and as the light comes on and the microphone is thrust under your nose you do, for a second, feel special.

That is until you stumble around the language and realize that the erudite and considered understanding you have of the current Prime Ministerial crisis in this country is going to sound to the native speaker something like:

 “Abe san, one year, pointless. Fukuda san, one year, foolish. Aso san, bad, crazy man, one year, good. Next time election is 2009. Japanese people tired,  LDP finished. Big change future! DPJ whatshisname be boss.”

After I smiled idiotically and looked at the bemused faces of the interviewer, cameraman, sound man and woman whose purpose I do not know; exused myself and went back to work with my own camera. Oh and I promised myself I would study more Japanese soon or just try and get interviewed by Al Jazeera in the future! 




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