top コラムTokyo Photobook Tour3 都築響一『TOKYO STYLE』

Tokyo Photobook Tour


John Sypal

There’s a concept of uchi / soto in Japanese culture- - the “soto” is the outside of something which the public is shown- and uchi, an inner realm. This “inside” can be in an individual’s heart or something in the nature of close relationships. Such divisions are firmly kept in many aspects of life in Japan. 


A great deal of my photobook collection consists of photographs taken on Tokyo’s streets- images of outdoor, public culture. If such pictures portray the outside, soto surface of society, documenting an inner, private uchi life- is going to look different. One way to convey the personal with a camera is undoubtedly the photographic diary approach- summed up best as snapshots tracing personal experiences. 


Photogapher Kyoichi Tsuzuki took a different approach in the early 90s, entering peoples’ literal uchis* and documenting their homes with admiration and precision.

His resulting (debut!) photobook, TOKYO STYLE features about 100 living spaces over 375 pages.  First published in 1993, the book became a legend the world over, inspiring interior designers and Japanophiles for decades. 



Looking at these photographs in 2022, so many years after they were taken, I’m struck by how different they feel now. Certainly, the look of the 4x5 film used has some effect- and sure, the TVs and technology in the rooms are different. As I said above, the places are older. The captions, too, reflect the early 90s in how they reference the ease which people can find places for 40,000 yen a month. Occasionally appearing between images of the cramped, individualistic rooms are pictures of the outsides of the buildings Tsuzuki visited. You can tell by some of the interiors, but the exterior shots show how many of the places were already shabby, old apartments in 1991. With so many old buildings being torn down in Tokyo in the past five years, I can’t help but wonder what percentage of the those in the book remain standing. 


My first encounter with Tokyo Style was back in 1999 or 2000. It was a copy of the small, paperback English edition- a book found in a shop in my hometown in Nebraska. At that time, I had already been to Japan once and was aching to return. I spent a lot of time flipping through this book as I dreamed about someday living in a cool, tiny apartment in Tokyo.   I’m older now, and I have more experience in Japan. Looking at the pictures I can understand how, at 20 years old, the thought of living in a cramped, wooden Tokyo apartment- one with vintage, tatami-floored rooms and those large, single-paned wood-framed windows like I saw in the book would be cool. However, having experienced 17 winters here I know there’s no way I’d ever actually be able to live in such a building.

So, for now I’ll stick with my modern, concrete place with its heater and comfortable bathtub.  I’ll have to limit my interest in those sorts of buildings to interactions with through a camera, from the street-  or in pages.


TOKYO STYLE has been published in a few iterations since its debut in 1993 (Mine here is a hardback 4th edition from 1996, found cheaply a few years ago at a Book Off).  Used copies of the large version in Japan are still fairly common, and usually around 10,000 yen. I was stunned to hear that copies outside Japan can go for a few times that.  

In 2017 Tsuzuki released an electronic version of the book- unrestrained by paper costs, his remastered scans result in an 812 page (585MB) e-book which is available for 2000 yen in his web-shop:


(*coincidentally “house” is also called “uchi” in Japanese- that was the pun)



私の本棚には「東京」というタイトルの写真集がたくさん並んでいます。そのほとんどはストリートスナップですが、この一冊のテーマは「道」ではなく「家」です。東京の「家」の写真集の中ではやっぱり、都築響一さんのデビュー作『TOKYO STYLE』がキングです。






都築さんの写真は真面目でピュアでユーモアがあります。「そのまま」であることは、いいですよね。しっかりと写っているのはただの部屋ではなく、色々な人の個性です。インテリアですが、ポートレートの写真集なのだと考えればいいんです。255×258×30mmという写真集の大きさのおかげで、読者がひとつひとつの部屋を訪れている感じがします。ゆっくりと他人の壁や本棚を覗き見ることができて楽しいです。『TOKYO STYLE』はドキュメントであり、同時にアートでもあります。



私の『TOKYO STYLE』との出会いは1999年でした。アメリカの地元にある店でこの本を手にして、一瞬で買うことに決めました。それは国際版の小さなペーパーバックでした。その頃、日本へは一度だけ行ったことがありました。大学を卒業したら『TOKYO STYLE』に写っているようなボロくて狭い東京アパートに住んでみたい、というのが20代の夢でした。




でも『TOKYO STYLE』は再版が多く、色々なバージョンがあります。




都築響一『TOKYO STYLE』 Kyoichi Tsuzuki






PCT Members

PCT Membersは、Photo & Culture, Tokyoのウェブ会員制度です。

特典1「Photo & Culture, Tokyo」最新の更新情報や、ニュースなどをお届けメールマガジンのお届け
今後もさらに充実したサービスを拡充予定! PCT Membersに登録する