With a keen interest in the Japanese art scene both in London and further afield, Japan Nakama is excited to announce the launch of our ‘Why I love Japan’ series. Designed to share the work of some of our favourites artists, photographers, and craftspeople, we’ve loved learning more about each artist’s work and their experiences of Japan, we’re excited to introduce Edgar Takoyaki, a contemporary photographer based in California whose dark and atmospheric style not only captures in the interest and intrigue of Japan but attempts to uncover the stories too.
“Even though my wife and I have been going there for over a decade, there are still so many places we need to explore”
What is your affinity with and experience of Japan?
My first exposure to Japan was a Japanese toy robot I received for Christmas as a child. It was one of those old mostly die-cast metal toys with the arms that shoot off to give a rocket punch effect. The writing on the box was all in Japanese. It looked like a toy from another planet. When my parents told me it was from Japan, I was hooked. I started watching Japanese cartoons on TV and grew to love Anime and Japanese cinema.
My first trip to Japan was in 2005 and I immediately fell in love with the country, people, culture, and food. I thought I knew what to expect but it surpassed my imagination. Since then, I have returned to Japan at least once a year. Even though my wife and I have been going there for over a decade, there are still so many places we need to explore. Tokyo has twenty-three wards that each consist of several different districts, so there is no shortage of new places to discover. And that’s just Tokyo.
How has your experience of Japan and Japanese culture impacted your life (if it has)?
Japanese culture has definitely impacted my life in a very positive way. The one thing that has affected me most is how kind and helpful people are in Japan. Asking for directions to a club in Shimokitazawa, these two nice guys walked me three or four blocks to the club and then went back to where they were hanging out. That wouldn’t happen where I’m from. Another time, I left my iPhone on the Tokyo Metro and thought it was gone forever. I called the lost and found for Tokyo Metro and to my surprise, someone had turned in my phone 20 minutes after I exited the train. Tokyo Metro even gave me a free train ticket to go to the station that the lost and found was located at. Incredible. I have also adopted a Japanese diet and it has been a delicious and healthy improvement in my lifestyle.
Has Japanese art influenced your work? If so, are there any particular artists or collections that you’d recommend other people check out?
The lighting in Japanese cinema, particularly horror and martial arts movies, is beautiful. My travel photos don’t reflect that, but I try to incorporate the look in my studio work.
As for photographers, I would recommend Masahisa Fukase, Daido Moriyama, and Nobuyashi Araki.
Japanese bands I would recommend would be Veltpunch, Supercar, Polysics, and Macdonald Duck Eclair.
Can you tell me a little more about your work and its connection to Japan? What inspires Edgar Takoyaki?
I owe my career in photography to Japan. When my wife and I first went to Japan in 2005, I was visually overstimulated and couldn’t stop trying to capture what I saw with my camera. Cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are so massive and layered. There is so much to shoot everywhere you look- from old temples and statues to steel and glass skyscrapers (often right next to each other). Tokyo is very modern and sci-fi, capturing that look on film with double exposures and reflections allows me to show what makes it so unique. But even without double exposures or reflections, Japanese cities and countrysides have so much to offer for any photographer.
We agree! Tokyo architecture is clearly seen in Anime as well. So what are you working on at the moment?
I’ve been working on a series called Analog Japan Project. For the past few years, I have been photographing Japan using film cameras. I’m using a Mamiya C330 and a Nikon F3 for this project. I am also working with H-gallery (dabart.me). They are doing a documentary on my background, techniques, and photography. We’ll be filming for it in Japan in October, so looking forward to that.
To see more awesome Japanese architectural photography projects, check out Edgar Takoyaki’s website.