A giraffe wanders into a temple and greets Buddhist monks like an old friend. Workers dive into random gaps in giant bushes for no apparent reason. And police officers help a slumped businessman to stand up, seemingly unable to keep his head up. These are just some of the everyday occurrences of Japan that Shin Noguchi has documented over the years.
Known for his candid approach and eye for picking out the quirky details and character of his home country, the award-winning street photographer says his work is an attempt to "capture extraordinary moments of excitement, humanism and beauty" among the flow of daily life. Now he's brought some of his best shots together for his debut book, In Color in Japan, featuring 130 images of life in the Land of the Rising Sun.
In the title's introduction, Chuck Patch writes: "Noguchi knows perfectly well that what he shows us reflects his own sensibility and intellect but prefers to dial back the expressionistic impulse. It is an old trick in photography: make the viewer believe that had she been standing next to him she would have seen precisely what he saw. It’s also a difficult trick to pull off, particularly when the everyday world seems to be so full of surprises."
"In many images, goofy absurdity suddenly explodes from a sober social milieu in a way that seems to Western eyes particularly Japanese," Chuck adds. "Sentiment and affection are common themes, but the work is never sentimental."
In an interview with Creative Boom in 2018, Shin said: "I want to share these beautiful moments with other people and, at the same time, I want them to understand that these extraordinary moments exist in our daily lives and that they can happen anywhere and at anytime. I'm here, just here. You're here, just here. There is something here, something beautiful something special. It may last but a moment, but we are always connected to each other."
Shin Noguchi's In Color in Japan is published by EyeShot and available to purchase.