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A Snapshot of Modern Japan

My Photo scholarship 2010 entry

Worldwide | Sunday, 17 October 2010 | flickr photos

I'm a scientist who loves photography and travel. What excites me is capturing a unique event or the essence of a place. As a rank amateur, I've entered for the chance to learn from the pros.

My first picture is the interior of Kyoto's rail station. The futuristic design embodies Japan's prosperity and forward-looking nature. It's also an example of how Japanese buildings serve many purposes. In this station there's offices, restaurants, shops, hairdressers and train platforms. In Tokyo, buildings will even merge into one another. So you can go into one building, and come out of another without seeing daylight.

People credit Japan's prosperity to its corporate culture and strong work ethic. Working hours in Japan are often very long, and the salaryman is synonymous with this culture. My second photo is of an Osaka salaryman, motionless in thought. I wondered what he was thinking, whether he was tired and sought escape, or whether he was lonely and sought companionship.

With long working hours and a collectivistic culture, lots of Japanese people seek novelty and escapism in their leisure time. The third shot is of cosplayers in Tokyo's Yoyogi park - I like to think some of them are big executives, who - on weekends, love to be Elvis.

Another popular activity is shopping. My fourth photo shows Japan's relationship with shopping. Retail districts, such as the one shown in Osaka, are often packed in the evenings. Billboards adorn all surfaces, advertising must-have new products to tempt consumers.

My last photo is the common sight of exhausted workers on trains. Following Japan's boom came a bust and stagnation; with the prospect of even tougher times ahead. The generation that brought prosperity is clocking off, and a new generation is tasked with Japan's revival.

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