It’s been eight years since I came to Tokyo. Even in this city of more than 9 million people (with upwards of 37 million in the surrounding area), I still only have a small smattering of friends. And yet, I’ve observed an entire universe of people in the background of this city: people walking ahead of me on the street, people on the same train, people eating at the same restaurant. Who are they? What are their lives? What are they thinking?
The light turns green. I look right. I look left. I step out and move forward. So many people walk past me. No one looks this way.
I peer into their faces. Our eyes may meet, but I think I can safely say that in my lifetime, there will never be another moment when we will observe or actually get to know each other.
The pieces of litter I see on the street are quite telling—they reveal the desires, needs, and actions of the people who once owned those abandoned pieces. I feel that photographs are not so different.
One day, I came across the app “happn.” This app, normally used for dating, actually provided me with a window into the lives of the hundreds and thousands of people I once passed anonymously every day. Each time I opened happn, the app presented me with a collection of users that I had crossed paths with throughout my day. Through happn, I met a woman from France, a young man who is a dancer, and a fashion student. My goal wasn’t romantic. Rather, we met, we spoke, we shared our stories.
Without the app, I do not think I would have met them. Though they lived close to me for a number of years and we must have crossed paths plenty of times without realizing, they would have remained forever strangers.
Even so, there is still an entire universe of people I don’t know in this city. My neighbors who I have yet to meet, who have yet to develop a face and a name…I continue to think and dream about them as I roam the streets of Tokyo.
If you’d like to see more work like this, we’d recommend the following articles: Recall, a series that warps memories in its attempt to preserve them; My Life, an engaging street series shot in Tokyo; and Tokyo is Yours, a series that captures the fantasies and fears radiating from the residents of Japan’s capital city.