Going out on a limb here to explain a feeling that I had when I saw Teo from Sweden for a 2nd time during his short stay in Japan. 

So… I’ve already mentioned a number of times of another photography project I run called Photohoku, making photos for people in need, basically using photography as a means to do goodwill projects. The project started in response to the big earthquake here in Japan, and when my pal Yuko and I started it, we really had no idea what we were getting into. It became a huge project that took us to the devastated regions of Japan over 50 times and touched the lives of thousands of people, both as volunteer participants and recipients of our work. It profoundly enriched my own life in too many ways to count. In fact, I probably owe the method I use for approaching people for Tokyo Record Style to Photohoku. 

I’ve told this story a number of times but the very first family that the Photohoku project touched turned out not to be a family at all. Spotting them from the hillside, all working together to clean and repair the one last standing house/shop in the port neighborhood of Ishinomaki, we approached this group of people assuming they were a family, asking if they’d like a new family photo. Turns out they were a group of unrelated individuals from across Japan all coming together to help this older homeowner, Tosuke san, put his world back together. They insisted they didn’t need a photo but could use our help clearing up if we had some time and elbow grease to spare. We of course obliged. After a few hours of scrubbing mud off walls, ceilings, and floors, we were thanked for our effort, said goodbye, and went on our way to realize our photo project, but not before making one “family” photo of the rag-tag team of volunteers that morning.

A few months later we would end up returning to Ishinomaki after having successfully run a couple of other Photohoku missions in other devastated communities. We went back to check on Tosuke to find him shocked to see us. “You guys, again?!?!” he said “What are you doing back here?” We replied that our volunteer project was continuing and that we’d probably visit as many more times as we could. Tosuke produced the photo we made of him a few months prior and it was in an album filled with images of volunteers who had come to help. He said to us to our dismay, “Having come back to see us again, you have become as much of our family as our own.” That’s when we realized that the Photohoku project was not so much about photos in the end, as it was about people, and connection. 

Well… Never did I actually imagine that when I said goodbye in Shibuya to Teo from Sweden who I had photographed a few weeks before, catching him on an extended, but still short stay in Japan, that I would meet him again in two weeks’ time, or that he would remember me and make the trip out to Kichijoji to Coconuts Disk for Tokyo Record Style Day. But there he was, with a pal too, Andreas. To my surprised delight, I said “YOU!! What are you doing here?!?!” to which he replied “You invited me! It was nice meeting you, and we had a great chat, and I wanted to come.” …WOW! It actually worked (Like Photohoku worked!)… Teo who didn’t know me from Adam, accepting my invitation to Tokyo Record Style meant so so much to me, especially when everybody is “busy” and people are just caught up. It was a small gesture, but it was out of the way, way out of the way, and Teo came through. Might sound like nothing, just a bloke who wanted to get some records, but I really think, after the warm cross-cultural and meaningful conversation we had a few weeks back, that we put forth some good vibes into the world and they came back triple-fold. Even my pal Michael, who had clued me on to a few Swedish bands, that I could rattle off with Teo was there, and the two of them got to connect, which was kind of a grand slam home run. It was just my intention. 

That IS my intention with Tokyo Record Style. It is about music, but it’s really about people. I want to bring people together and make some real meaningful connections that are an …amplification, no pun intended, of our shared passion for music appreciation. I know I’m gonna meet Teo again. Japan would be nice, but Sweden would be even nicer. Until then… #theworldgetssmallerthroughmusic

More Tokyo Record Style on the way.

Toshiki Kadomatsu – After 5 Clash
Label: Air Records – RAL-8812
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo
Country: Japan
Released: Apr 21, 1984
Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul, Pop
Style: Boogie, City Pop, Disco, Funk, Soul

松原みき [Miki Matsubara] – 真夜中のドア [Stay With Me]
Label: See・Saw – W-17
Format: Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM, Single, Stereo
Country: Japan
Released: Nov 5, 1979
Genre: Funk / Soul, Pop
Style: City Pop, Disco, Funk

S. Kiyotaka & Omega Tribe – Summer Suspicion
Label: Vap – 10082-07
Format: Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM, Single
Country: Japan
Released: Apr 21, 1983
Genre: Funk / Soul, Pop
Style: Kayōkyoku, City Pop

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant – Smokin’ Billy
Label: Triad – COKA-16
Format: Vinyl, 7″, Single
Country: Japan
Released: Nov 3, 1998
Genre: Rock
Style: Garage Rock, Punk

Here are some photos of Photohoku in action and the story of Tosuke.

For more about Photohohoku, visit http://photohoku.org/

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