Another View of Japan

by Bruce Takeo Akizuki

These photographs are from Community Images (CI) trip to Japan in 2001. Last year CI were invited to the Higashikawa International Photo Festival in Hokkaido. We also were able to spend time in Tokyo and Hakodate during our trip.

I hope through these photographs people can gain a better understanding of Japanese people and culture from a different point of view. It was through my trips to Japan that I better understood Japanese people from meeting and making friends with many Japanese people.

I want to give people a look at average normal people in Japan. Too often the mainstream media in America looks at the extremes of Japanese society like the yakuza, punk rockers, entertainers, or politicians. But it is the majority of the people that makes society run; for example, people teach in our schools, work in factories or offices, sell our food, construct our bridges, make our art, or clean our streets. I think that average people’s lives can be just as interesting and compelling if given the chance. I think they are the real makers of history since they are the majority of the population.

I also think it is important to provide people with the art that they can relate to. It is much easier to feel connected if something relates to our lives therefore I wanted to photograph everyday scenes throughout Japan. I also wanted to present Japanese people in a positive and upbeat manner and with dignity and respect.

In summation, I wish the audience will gain a more balanced perception of Japan society through these photographs. I think when the real story comes out everyone benefits.

Click on images to see a large version.

“Strolling”. “Teacher and Students”. “Telephone Call”.
“Telephone Call”. At Shinjuku Station in Shinjuku, Tokyo. August 2001.
“Teacher and Students”. High school students and teacher from Hiroshima, Japan standing at the entrance of Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. August 2001.
“Strolling”. Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo where junior high and high school students hang out. August 2001.
“Fans of W-inds”
“Fans of W-inds” High school girls who like W-inds, a Japanese pop idol group. Harajuku, Tokyo. August 2001.
“Chinatown”. Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan -- the largest Chinatown in Japan. August 2001.
“Brother and Sister”. “Gas Sign”.
“Gas Sign”. Gas in Higashikawa, is 102 yen a liter. Higashikawa, Hokkaido. July 2001.
“Ceremony”. Andrejs Grants, a Latvian photographer, being honored at the Higashikawa International Photo Festival in Higashikawa, Hokkaido. July 2001.
“Brother and Sister”. At the garden party at Hagoromo Park in Higashikawa, Hokkaido. July 2001.
“Crabman” Vendor holding a huge Russian King Crab at the Morning Market in Hakodate, Hokkaido. July 2001.
“Statue”. At the Koryuji Buddhist Temple in Hakodate, Hokkaido. July 2001.


Founder, coordinator, and photographer for Community Images, a community based photographic organization in San Francisco; assistant editor and photographer for Unity Magazine, photographer for Unity Newspaper, Local 2 labor support, East Wind Magazine, The Black Nation, Jesse Jackson Presidential Campaign in 1984 and 1988, Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), Bay Area Asians for Nuclear Disarmament (BAAND), National Coalition for Redress and Reparations (NCRR), Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC), Asian Students in Action Now (ASIAN), and the Asian Pacific Student Union (APSU).