The vast majority of my photos tend to be taken in the older, eastern areas of Tokyo. Places that in many respects are a world away from the usual image of the city, and yet at the same time they are just as much (if indeed not more) a part of the capital as the bright lights and bustling streets it’s more famous for. The one exception, however, has been Shinjuku. An area that despite its changes and my shifting interests, has remained a firm favourite.
Being a popular entertainment hub, Shinjuku has no shortage of fancy shops and the like, but there’s also so much more. It’s intimate as well as crowded, rough and ready but also refined, plus more than anything, it’s simply interesting, with similarly interesting people. A location that has also been more on my mind of late, as the photobook my friend Giovanni and I recently released (now available to buy here), contains half a dozen photos I took there over the years. Hence this post with those six pictures included.
The book is a visual conversation, so the images were chosen as a response to the previous photo rather than simply picking out some favourites like I’ve done here. The former was often incredibly difficult, but somewhat surprisingly, so was whittling down a set from the many Shinjuku pictures I have. Below then are the ones I settled on. Some inclusions I’ll no doubt question the moment this is posted, along with likely failing to understand why I left one or two others out. But either way, as a whole I still feel they represent a part of Tokyo that has changed enormously, and yet at the same time has barely changed at all.
These are all wonderful photographs with stories embedded in each. Although I find myself drawn to those quiet, run down areas you generally feature in your photos, Shinjuku has a different kind of magic that keeps us coming back on our visits to Japan, because it is so different to everywhere else. There are vignettes everywhere.
Thank you very much, that’s really good to hear. And yes, I couldn’t agree more about Shinjuku. There really is something special about it.
Oh man these are incredible. I’d very happily buy a book of only your Shinjuku work.
Thank you very much. That really would be something. One day. Maybe…
Andrew H says
Great capture of the grimacing guy in the first shot and nice to see some love for one of our pigeon pals.
I’m not sure how I could help that guy sprawled out on the floor outside the toilet, but I like to think I’d try – even if just leaving a bottle of water for him or something.
Thanks a lot. Really happy with both those shots. Waited a while by the mural in the hope of the right person walking past, whereas the pigeon scene just happened as I was walking past. Such a lovely little moment.
So many great photos. I would be proud to have taken any one of these.
Thank you very much. Definitely some all-time faves here. Shinjuku really is a great place to walk and photograph.
Every one a top example of your craft. Pigeon girl, lift lady, rainbow chaser, canary dancer… there are enough stories here for a hundred Midnight Diner episodes.
The last one though is special though – even at this size and on a screen is my favourite.
And if you’ll forgive the link, the trio are standing just below the camera showing this live view of the street.
Thank you very much. It was nice going back through these. Some very nice memories.
Ah, yes. That’s the spot. Never fails to amaze me how busy it is there at night. Any night as well.
Some of the shots are ones I used to see in Shinjuku when I hung out there in 1969-71: the bars, the elevator lady, the women walking, and the threesome standing under their umbrellas. Would not have seen so many men sleeping. And especially the guy in the yellow tutu. He is a 21st century person!
I especially like the black and white ones because they capture the grit of life there.
Yes, while the area has changed enormously, I imagine most of the scenes wouldn’t have been any different at all back then.
And yeah, despite its vivid colours, Shinjuku does lend itself very nicely to black and white.
Knowing of it only what I’ve seen in your photos, I love Shinjuku!
Excellent. That feels very much like job done!
Ken C says
I love the Izakaya with the delicate crystal lampshades!
Yes, as gleaming and pristine as ever!
Bob M says
Excellent photos. They are quite captivating portraits of the people and of the special “Land of Shinjuku”.
But people should be aware that although these photos are genuine, they only represent one side of Shinjuku which is primarily made up of very ordinary apartments and houses, apart from the extraordinary oasis of Shinjuku Gyoen. I live in Shinjuku and have yet to see some random drunk sleeping or dressed in a yellow tu-tu in my neighborhood… my loss I’m sure.
Cheers. It was good to go back through older photos.
That’s a fair point, but that’s arguably the case for most places. Each have distinct areas. These are just my take on the parts of Shinjuku where people visit, rather than the parts where people actually live.