With its otherworldly skyscrapers and futuristic technology, Tokyo can feel a million miles away.
However, Brazilian-born photographer Gerald Figueras makes life in the city seem more relatable in his stunning series of photos on Tokyo’s streets.
Figueras moved to Japan in 2016 after becoming fascinated by the country’s people and customs.
Through his photography, Figueras captures the enchanting details of his everyday experiences and the people he encounters.
For Figueras, street photography is the perfect medium to present the relationship between Tokyo’s inhabitants and its futuristic metropolis. Street photography’s organic and unposed nature presents the otherwise legendary city in a relatable and commonplace way that allows viewers to get a feel of what life is really like in the city.
Scroll on to see 26 stunning photos of Japan that capture everyday life on the streets of Tokyo.
After first visiting Japan in April 2016, Brazilian-born photographer Gerald Figueras fell “completely in love” with the country and was determined to return as soon as possible.
“I needed to stay longer to really understand how life goes on here. I couldn’t get it out of my head,” he told Business Insider.
Eight months later, in December 2016, Figueras gathered his possessions and made the move.
Despite his full-time job in marketing and content production for a software company based in Tokyo, Figueras still finds plenty of time for his passion — capturing the enchanting people and streets of Japan’s capital.
Rather than scheduling in sessions to go out and take pictures, Figueras prefers to always carry his camera on him so that he’s prepared when opportunity strikes: “My camera is always in my backpack, wherever I go.”
“The majority of photos are taken during my daily routines: coming back from work, on the way to the supermarket, going out with friends, taking the train, etc. This keeps the photos as faithful as possible to what I understand is ‘the daily Japan,’” Figueras said.
Figueras was first drawn to street photography when travelling as a young adult. “The many different scenarios, cultures and, most importantly, people, gave me a craving to improve my capture skills so I could really review and retell my travel stories with the same beauty that my eyes were seeing,” he said.
“I wanted people to feel what I was feeling at the moment.”
His fascination with human tendencies and the impact people have on their environment drives his imagery’s narratives. “I believe that people are the most interesting thing in the world,” Figueras stated.
“The potential for men and women to change their surroundings, in big and small ways, with positive and negative results, is something that keeps life unpredictable and fresh on a daily basis.”
The relationship between his subjects and their environment drives a large percentage of Figueras’ images, like this junction in central Tokyo, packed with vehicles and pedestrians.
To Figueras, capturing the everyday is “one of the greatest excuses you have to really stop and look around to how people are living their lives, and what they do with [them].”
In reflecting the everyday, Figueras’ work helps him to stop and appreciate even the smallest, most trivial yet beautiful moments.
“Being able to appreciate life’s little things is the most important thing I can do to keep myself happy, under whatever circumstances,” Figueras said.
Noticing fleeting moments, framing them, and capturing them has taught Figueras to appreciate the little things in his own life.
“Noticing what might look trivial to everyone else has helped me to appreciate my own moments much better,” he said.
And it’s the Japanese people’s appreciation of these “little things” which initially attracted Figueras to Tokyo as a city and as a community.
Their sense of “mindfulness” is Figueras’ favourite thing about Japanese culture.
“The Japanese excel above all other cultures when it comes to the respect needed to live peacefully and collectively in society,” Figueras said.
“Only here is it possible to live in the most populous metropolitan area in the world but still feel like you are in a little village.”
Regard for one another and a sense of community forms the back-bone of Japanese life in Figueras’ eyes, and in his work.
The balance between people and environments, actions, and objects fuels many of Figueras’ images — like this fleeting moment of eye contact across a lively bar.
As well as the relationship between the city and its inhabitants, Figueras is equally as fascinated by the effect that Tokyo has on its visitors and tourists.
Figueras’ side-project, Photo My Tokyo, invites visitors to the city to hire him to help them capture their experiences in the bustling, metropolitan hub as honestly as possible.
Photo My Tokyo attempts to capture the real essence of Tokyo instead of standard tourist snaps of people aimlessly grinning in front of various landmarks. By doing so, Figueras hopes to provide visitors with a small slice of the everyday wonder they experienced during their trip.
“I approach Photo My Tokyo with the same kind of visual storytelling that I like to approach with my street photography,” Figueras said.
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