top コラムRecommended photobook9 Shinya Arimoto "Tokyo Strut" 有元伸也『Tokyo Strut』

Recommended photobook

9 Shinya Arimoto "Tokyo Strut" 有元伸也『Tokyo Strut』

John Sypal

A nice thing about writing a column for this site, compared to say, a proper news report for a major newspaper, is that objectivity isn't quite so important.

Inside these articles I write about books and exhibitions are facts but also feelings- and I have a feeling you’ll enjoy this week’s book: Shinya Arimoto’s Tokyo Strut, published in July 2022 by Zen Foto Gallery.


Objectivity- -  Ok, if you’re familiar with Tokyo Camera Style, you know Arimoto and I go way back. I’ve been posting his cameras and exhibitions and books for years now- and I consider Arimoto, a fellow member of Totem Pole Photo Gallery in Shinjuku, is a true friend and mentor. With both Totem Pole and Tokyo’s photo culture based in Shinjuku, he and I run into each other on the streets fairly often. Does this affect the reasoning of this piece? Actually, not so much. I’d enjoy this work even if I didn’t know him. But I am glad I do.


And with that - -


For a decade now, with his medium format camera- a Hasselblad SWC- and its super-sharp, super-wide lens, Shinya Arimoto has spent the past decade scooping out 6x6 squares of the city with a chunky, brilliant flash.


The frames- and likewise pages- struggle to contain the people and animals and places and objects within them. Tokyo here reveals itself to Arimoto as a swelling, impossible, and rambunctious jigsaw puzzle. Those that he meets and photographs are in a way pieces to it, pieces which, for one reason or another, don’t quite fit the shapes left open by society.


Arimoto once mentioned that since he was a child he’s always been a voracious reader of manga- in fact, becoming a comic artist was his dream in elementary school. He supposes this influence has filtered through into his pictures. Surrealism, through dress, costume, or situational happenstance, is a major facet of his work.

He photographs from a genuine position respect and benevolence towards those he meets, no matter their stage or level in life. He does not pity or gawk- there’s plenty of laughter in these pages but none that’s bitter or sarcastic. He’s drawn to these subjects out of respect and a sense of fraternity.



As for that sort of “gap” between society and the individual- Arimoto’s wonderful afterward provides an illuminating glimpse into his mindset. In particular, I was moved by this particular admission:


I take photographs. It may be nice to call myself a “photographer” or an “artist”, but to be honest, I cannot make my living this way, and my eccentric personality makes it difficult for me to get along in the world. Since I was small, I have always thought that I was defective for not being able to do the same things as other people, and I was overly sensitive to the social trends that made me think so. In a world where cooperation and “reading” situations are valued, it is difficult for someone with a personality like me to live in any way… so when I meet people who, living in such a world, still believe in themselves and have the desire to live, I feel really happy from the bottom of my heart, and I photograph them with respect and sympathy.



Tokyo Strut is part of Zen Foto’s ongoing 20x20cm photobook series- per usual for said series, the printing is excellent (those midtones!) and, while Arimoto himself sequenced the flow, Mitsuhiro Kakinuma’s crisp design keeps the entire thing a joy to experience. The size too, is just right for your hands and the images, just right for the pages. Just right to casually pull off the shelf for another look.


Wrapped in its popish, electric blue cover, I see Tokyo Strut as Arimoto’s offer (counter?) to an age of growing conformity and safetyism- of fear and unease and anxiety. We are who we are- it’s ok. That’s enough sometimes. There’s an undeniable energy within the pages and the individuals in the pictures collaborate, if even for 1/500 a second, in celebration with the photographer.  


“Strut”, a reference to a rock song, is I think an expression of the awe Arimoto feels for his colorful subjects and their monochrome collaborations. He says he murmurs “happy go lucky” as he walks Shinjuku’s streets. That’s not a bad motto. Certainly better than doomscrolling on a phone.

The wild everything and everyone in these pages are an antidote to what ails.


Shit happens, but keep on struttin’.     What else can you do?





写真集や写真展について書くこのコラムの中には、もちろん事実もありますが「感情」もあります。そして今週の写真集は、皆さんが面白く感じられそうな一冊、有元伸也さんの『Tokyo Strut』(Zen Foto Gallery、2022年7月刊行)です。
















  • 僕は写真を撮っている。「写真家」とか「アーティスト」とか名乗ってみれば聞こえは良いが、正直それで食えてるわけでもなく、偏屈な性格から世渡りを上手くできない現状もある。幼少の頃から人と同じことができない自分を欠陥人間だと思っていたし、そう思わざるを得ない世間の風潮を過敏に感じていた。協調性や空気を読むことが尊ばれる世の中に於いてはどうにも生きにくい性格だ。……それでも自分を信じて堂々と生きたい欲求があり、それを見事に体現しているような人たちに出会うと心の底から嬉しくなり、リスペクトとシンパシーを持って撮影する。


『Tokyo Strut』はZen Fotoの20x20cmスクエアフォーマットのフォトブックシリーズのひとつで、このシリーズではいつもながら印刷が素晴らしく(そのミッドトーン!)、有元さん本人が流れを決めながら、柿沼充弘氏の鮮明なデザインが全体を楽しくしてくれます。本の大きさは手に持つのにちょうどよく、写真のサイズ感もページにちょうどいい。本棚からさりげなく取り出して、もう一度見るのにもちょうどいい。


ポップなエレクトリックブルーのジャケットに包まれた『Tokyo Strut』は、順応性と安全主義が高まる時代、つまり恐怖と不安と心配に対する有元さんの提案(またはカウンター)だと思います。





ロックの名曲にちなんだ "Strut "は、有元さんのカラフルな被写体とモノクロームのコラボレーションに対する畏敬の念を表現しているのだと思います。新宿の街を歩きながら「ハッピー・ゴー・ラッキー」とつぶやいているという、このモットーは悪くないでしょう。スマホで「ドゥームスクローリング」(悲観的な情報を読み続ける)するよりは、きっといい。






  • Shinya Arimoto "Tokyo Strut"
    Published by Zen Foto Gallery, July 2022
    有元伸也『Tokyo Strut』
    出版=禅フォトギャラリー(2022年7月発行) SHOP



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