If you ask random people about Japan they usually react with stereotypes all over. They know sushi and sake. Crazy TV shows and manga. And maybe some even mention those vending machines where people can buy used underwear worn by underage schoolgirls. Or middle-aged men. No one really knows. And maybe it’s better if it stays that way.
But Japan is so much more than just cute anime characters, colorful video games and freshly chopped fish. It’s home to a hugely creative, sometimes lonely and overall playful youth which tries to survive in a country that’s infamous for its rigorous cultural customs and rules. It’s not easy to stay yourself in a nation that’s like a perfect ticking clockwork.
Sagamihara-based artist Rakutaro Ogiwara has captured these young people for several years now. He shares moments so special, interesting and even strange on his Instagram account, that I couldn’t look away. I had to look at every single photo and fell in love with a bunch of them. Because they show a Japan that’s real, intimate and admirable, without drowning in stereotypes.
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