Before eateries had English menus; before selfies were snapped at the Robot Restaurant; before tourists in Mario costumes zipped down the streets of Shibuya in go-karts there was a grittier Tokyo. One that photographer Greg Girard describes as “post-war scruffiness combined with a transitional modernity.”
Girard first arrived in Tokyo in 1977 after hearing about it from others during a stint in Hong Kong. Still in his early 20s, Girard fearlessly made his way through Kabukicho, Shinjuku and the Yokosuka U.S. military base, snapping photographs as he encountered what he now describes as pre-bubble artifacts.
“It was just so obvious that it was a kind of science-fiction place – that word just popped into my head looking out the train window at the city,” he explains in the foreword of his new book Tokyo-Yokosuka: 1976–1983. What Girard saw was a city on the precipice of an economic explosion that would catapult it onto the global stage.