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Alone, Together

Japan. Part mystery, part contradiction, it offers a unique glimpse into a post-industrial world that has one foot in the future and another firmly anchored in the past.Japan is home to a unique culture, traditions, and customs. But Japan's society is full of deviance, unusual behavior, or behavior that does not follow conventional norms of society. Ultra high-tech and ultra-chic, Japanese society presents, on one hand, ancient traditions and very conservative attitudes; and on the other, superficiality, modern social interactions, and unusual cultural, sexual and societal deviances. The “hikikomori” (isolation and retreat), the “otaku” (obsessive interests) are just a few of those kinds of deviances the most commonly known. Both are thought to be brought about by the clash of their new, modern, wildly nonconformist behavior, with the huge social pressure of rigid conformity of the traditional Japanese society.Unlike other countries, Japanese society is based on the principle of membership to one group where all are addicted to each other. For every member is a huge mental effort to best suit the requirements of the group, but also to cope with the high standards that were indoctrinated from birth. In Japan, failure is not an option and the pressures of the Japanese ideal could push people into emotional shutdown. This is one of the ways of expressing a Japanese way of life. Sometimes, this feeling of collectivism produces an inner isolation of the people who don’t want or who can’t follow the constraint which the social models impose imperatively.In what concerns me, I have always been fascinated by the isolation and loneliness as the defining feature of big cities and I always empathized with people experiencing those feelings. During a trip in Japan in April 2014, I felt and experienced these kinds of feelings myself, in the streets of Tokyo. These photos have been taken in the only ten days that I spent in Tokyo as a simple tourist, so my limited time and the lack of any kind of logistical help have rendered my endeavor probably superficial.It is easy to find yourself isolated and alone among a crowd. It is amazing how solitude can be so present in such a multitude, how it thrives in such a chaos, sneaking between so many people, wrapping so many lives. Living alone. Working alone. Talking alone. Alone in joy, alone in insanity.

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