Japanese business men, with their dull suits and carefully orchestrated combovers (also known as barcode hair styles) have been the butt of jokes, both in media and in colloquial chit-chat, for as long as I can remember. Younger generations call them ossan, or boring old man, and ridicule their obedience and lack of independence.
There was even a popular comedy sketch that depicted a Japanese business man who gets repeatedly transferred by his company to the most outlandish outposts. But being the slave that he is, he reluctantly accepts each new assignment. In the final episode his company sends him on an Armageddon-like mission to save the planet, obviously without enough fuel to return to earth.
Anyway, the story—call it the Parable of Salarymen—has been told many times, with varying aims. But in an ongoing series started in 2009, photographer Yuki Aoyama provides a lift-me-up to businessmen across Japan. Solaryman (a portmanteau of the words sora, or sky, and salaryman ) is a photo-documentation of actual Japanese businessmen escaping from the mold that has characterized them for decades through the simple action of jumping.
Aoyama’s previous series documented Japanese business men jumping by themselves. But in this new series, which was published as a photobook last month, the photographer points his lens at the father-daughter relationship.
The intent of the book, perhaps, is to capture the hidden laborers who carry the world’s third largest economy on their shoulders and to make people think, instead of sweaty, balding old man, ah funky dude in a suit, or something like that.