I live in a quiet, little-known, neighborhoodly pocket of Tokyo, surrounded by parks, schools, libraries, market streets, and a couple of quite winding little rivers. I’m less than 10 minutes to Shimokitazawa in one direction on the Inokashira line, and the same to Kichijoji in the opposite direction.

Shimokita is one of those neighborhoods that is increasingly being ranked as one of “The World’s Coolest Neighborhoods,” and for a lot of reasons, it’s a deserving title. It’s honestly one of the reasons I moved to Tokyo in the first place, I wanted to live IN Shimokita, and I did for many, many years. It has always been a sorta home turf to me, and it’s a thing that people know about me, I guess it’s in my heart in a sense. But if I had a 2nd home turf, (that wasn’t Shinjuku or Shibuya, that are, in a way, simply too colossal to claim as one’s own) it would likely be chilled-out, bohemian satellite-of-love, Kichijoji. All my oldest friends in Tokyo were either Shimokita drinking/smoking/music outcast hippy pals, or Musabi art school graduates designer people, hence always spending my time between those two hoods. Year by year, as I grow more roots in Tokyo, and don’t drink at back-alley bars till 5 am anymore, I feel more and more connected to Kichijoji and, hate-to-say-it, less and less to Shimokita. Shimokita has also changed so much in 20 years, but Kichijoi has kinda stayed the same.

Anyway, I’m just rambling, but the chestnut, or coconut that I’m trying to crack is Coconuts Records, which is a Kichjoji institution that I only discovered a couple years ago or maybe even less, which has sorta become, well I guess you could say, a little darling of Tokyo Record Style. It’s nestled in this little cul-de-sac and only ever has foot traffic and it’s just groovy as can be. It’s truly a perfect record shop, a little paradise, replete with coconut trees, and the little cul-de-sac is primo for chatting about music and photographing people, especially on a Saturday, which is when I met Ayato.

Ayato was just hanging on the street with Kumpei (see next post), waiting to meet up with a friend to help them move to a new flat, wearing a Mamiya RB67 medium format film camera around his neck, a beautiful camera, which I used to have an love. I approached Ayato to chat him up about his camera, and we talked about Photohoku (another creative project I run), all the film stocks I have that we’re using as a photography community for goodwill projects and invited him to join along on a future effort. His pal, Kumpei, having lived in and learned English from living in Canada, filled in some gaps in my Japanese. Both Ayato and Kumpei were super friendly and keen to hear about Phohoku and beyond. During the conversation, I name-dropped Totem Pole Photogallery as the place we have started a couple of photo projects from, and Ayato lit up and asked me if I knew “Tokyo Camera Style”! I just laughed, explaining that it’s the very project on which I am not conducting is based. At that point, Kumpei produced a CD that he had just purchased from his bag and he’d become the next subject of the project (See the next post.)

As I was making Kumpei’s photos, out from Coconuts came another of their friends, Sho, who will be featured in the post after Kumpei’s. Finally, after I make Kumpei and Sho’s photos, I said goodbye, rode, and then lamented that, despite Ayato not having a record, I didn’t make his photo! I mean, making photos of photohomies is not the focus of this project, but it didn’t seem right to have made Kumpei and Sho’s photos and not Ayato’s, but I had already left.

So… I hit Ayato up afterwards and I said, “Yo, I gotta make your photos too.” So two or three days later (today) we rendezvoused for a 3-minute revenge street portrait. So in an unprecedented twist of events, here featured is Ayato with his RB67. After all, photography is part of Tokyo Record Style’s DNA, so one photographer (don’t get used to it) couldn’t hurt. So there you go TRS’s first (and only?) photographer featured, unless I see more of you with cameras at the record shops. Until then…

Mamiya RB67
Mamiya Sekor C 127mm f3.8

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