Masataka Nakano Has Been Photographing a Deserted Tokyo for Almost 30 Years

an early morning in Marunouchi outside Tokyo Station (2019)

One way to obscure a time period when sculpting the human body is to depict them naked. Fashion can make certain periods easily identifiable but by removing that element, the subject is placed in timelessness. The Japanese photographer employs this technique in his artwork by photographing a Tokyo void of any single humans. And in a region with 38 million people, this isn’t an easy task.

For almost 30 years, Nakano has patiently waited outside train stations and on the streets of Tokyo, waiting for that perfect moment when all people disappear from his frame. If you’ve wandered Tokyo with jet-lag you’ll know that this is hard to do, even in the very early mornings.

The face of Tokyo has rapidly changed over the last several decades and as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics approach, the rate of change has only accelerated. Which is why Nakano chose to now release a photobook looking back on all his past work. Simply titled “TOKYO” (published 9/1/2019 and available through Tsutaya), the book traces a changing city but relies only on the vibrant streets and architecture.

If you’re interested in Masataka Nakano’s work, some of his previous photobooks like Tokyo Nobody is available on Amazon.

Shibuya center-gai, 1999
Shinjuku, 2000
ginza, chuo-ku, 1996 
Higashi-ikebukuro Toshima-ku, 1999
Ueno Taito-ku, 1999
Gaienmae Minato-ku, 1992

1 Comment

  1. I like these photos. Actually – without knowing this artist – I had the same idea and realized it last year in my hometown in Switzerland:

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