Snapshots from Tokyo hell

December 14th, 2010By Category: Culture, Photography

Tokyo’s metro system is where Japanese manners go to die – as anyone who has spent any time living and working in the city can tell you. Though perhaps not as bad as stereotypes will have you believe, there are still plenty of examples where the behavior on commuter trains can come as a shock compared to what you see back up on street level.

A new photo collection, put together by photographer Michael Wolf, reveals the cramped, stressful and unforgiving life of a Tokyo commuter.  Wolf is renowned for super-sized photographs of Chicago, and his home for the last fifteen years Hong Kong. The collection, ‘Tokyo Compression’ captures a different aspect of an Asian metropolis.






















The looks of resignation on the various faces give you a good idea of what goes on, but also caught in the images is the toleration that people put up with, the small signs of life in the keitai being held up millimeters from a face and the acts of contortion in order to read the morning newspaper or manga.






















Of course, plenty of other – not so wholesome things – also tend to happen while on the move. That was one idea behind the newer Tokyo manner posters which were designed by famed illustrator Bunpei Yorifuji. Here the list of offences include taking up too much space, applying cosmetics and listening to your music too loudly.






















– Check out more images at Michael’s official site. The book is available on, amongst other places.

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GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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