Anyone travelling in Japan will quickly see that smartphones are second nature to the Japanese. They’re everywhere – in every hand and in all circumstances. In the major cities, you’ll rarely meet anyone who’s not using their cell phone. It’s so common and so widespread that it ends up being natural.
The screen transfixes, capturing the user’s attention much more urgently than the people around them. This creates a degree of indifference to others. A sad statement if ever there was one, because the screen distances people who are sharing the same space and could be mingling. It creates an invisible, virtually impenetrable barrier.
However, what I initially took to be an obstacle to encountering others turned out to be an opportunity. The street photographer I became during my trip to Japan made the most of it. I could capture these faces at will, without disturbing them. Black & white was also a must, to contrast with the shimmering colours the eye is exposed to in this country. Black & white confers
a timeless quality on these photos. Technology reigns in this country that blends tradition and modernity in such unexpected ways.