I take commercial photographs by day to make a living. In limitation of time, I had only the night to seek out my photographic object. You’d find me at clubs and at live houses, where I’d be taking shots at whatever catches my eye. Neon lights. Walls. Sofas. Flowers… but above all, PEOPLE play the leading role in all the happening locales. Watching people in the ‘amusement district’ is much like watching tropical fish in a glass aquarium. I feel a dazzling, slippery, and rattling feeling reach my skin. Meticulous make up, a flashy dress or a set-up hairdo leaps at me. The clothes they put on are only for show, and the expressions they wear are only masks. This is the front individuals put up to protect them. However, couples seem to have a different, livelier expression. I feel their love and see each individual personality. I just think this is so interesting. This was when I decided to make ‘COUPLES’ the main object of my photographs. I found myself wandering underground scenes in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho and Shibuya. In nightclubs & bars, I found those who allowed me to take their picture. A musician, a dancer, a stripper, a laborer, a restaurant manager, an office lady, a businessman and even a homeless man became part of my photography of ‘COUPLES’. For some reason, it seemed like these people were excited and were more than willing to have their photo taken by a total stranger. The more we changed words, the more they opened themselves to me, a photographer. And so, I began photographing. In the case of my 1st photo collection book Pinky & Killer and the subsequent Pinky & Killer DX, I had to take their pictures on later days because most of the live houses and bars were either too dark or were excessively illuminated. Moreover, the backdrops were either too stained or too plain. On that day, I took home the impression those couples left with me. As my connection to these couples deepened, the more I thought that there should be a more appropriate environment to photograph them other than where they once came. That was why most of the pictures in my 2nd collection book Pinky & Killer DX were taken in their domiciles, or in sleazy motels called ‘Love Hotels’. A room behind closed doors was best to express coherency. When I photograph, I always tell people that this exercise is much like taking a picture inside a ‘Print Club’ instant photo booth. In other words I want them to let loose and show off in front of my camera. The photo shoots were a lot of fun, and filled with happy moments. Several couples even got married after the shoots, then again, there were a few couples who didn’t show up, and on one occasion, I was told it was because they had broken up. There was even a time where a couple was arrested after a shoot. It was difficult getting their consent to release their photos because of this. I soon learned about the existence of various sorts of couples that went beyond the confines of age or sex. When I see the relationship between a man and another man, or a woman and another woman, I learned that there are many people in the world and each have their own unique concept of ‘relationship’. This is the kind of couple I find the most interesting. I soon recognized that my work gained existence and meaning through my participation when I brought my camera. One day I found the perfect place where love could reach its peak. In the bathtub. So, I brought my camera into the couples’ homes. Even more so than the bedroom or restroom, I felt that the bathroom was the most private place in the home for a couple. So I decided to take my photographs with them in the bathtub. There were many couples that felt shy, but I persuaded them to place themselves in the bottom of the bathtub. In a sense, it was rather sadistic and like a ‘bondage play’. However, as their unity strengthened, the more they expressed their bonds. The couples soon came together like magnets, and showed their true selves in the bathtub. This place was their private instant photo booth. In this bathtub, they melt into one. Two people lay so naturally in the bathtub, as if like fetuses in their mother’s womb. And, as I photographed the couples in the bathtub, their love melted into each other like boiled jam.
This is the ‘COUPLE JAM’.