Tokyo Plain

(photo essay book) 2008 paperback, 108 pages, 64 color prints,
40 stories, 24×24 pages
available at

Editor Tom Meyer
Publisher Rainer Iglar und Michael Mauracher                              Fotohof edition, Salzburg                                                 Graphic Design Bernhard Winkler

In 1991, I moved from New York to Tokyo. Until 2011 I called it my homebase. 12 Years I really spent there. I know each and every corner of Megalopolis – by train, by car, by bicycle, by foot. With a Chinese, analog middle-format camera (Seagull) I set out throughout three consecutive years and capture -only during the first three days of the new year (oshogatsu) what the Metropolis of 39 million inhabitants has to offer.

Like every capital at least half of the population comes from other parts of Japan. As NEW YEARS is the most important holiday for Japanese people (there is no Christmas as they are not Christian) the city empties out. Tokyoites stay home or they go visit relatives around the corner. The city turns silent and empty. Everything I photographed is to be found within the vicinities of the 23 borrows boroughs of Tokyo – most of it even within the Yamanote line, a train that encircles the seven centers of the city.

Ever since the motion picture BLADE RUNNER, this picture of a futuristic high-rise Tokyo prevails even though only a meager 10% of the city fulfill this image. Only form the late 1970’s on high-rises could be built ´until then the technology was not advanced enough to have tall buildings resist massive earthquakes and Tokyo has more than 800 of them a year! It is particularly the ‘majority’ Tokyo, that which is not in “the conscience” which I want to show. The endless sprawl of mini wooden and plastic houses with a one meter white garden strip around it. 

The photos are “accompanied” by essays and aphorisms in three languages that are pictures themselves. Those I wrote throughout the decades. They refrain from any kind of interpretation. They simply describe in a hopefully poetic notion what my eyes and mind get to see. Simple insights and impressions of my favorite jungle. below two samples:

Tokyo repels you,
it spits you out,
but it loves you
if you share its “maladie”.

The stinking ever-same-endless-suburb Tokyo.
With all its convenience stores at every corner.
And its 24 hour fast-food restaurant.

And its 90 degrees plus 120% humidity.
Is nonetheless so much more beautiful than any Western metropolis.
That do nothing but reflecting the glory of the past.
Megalopolis simply has a more human face…

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