In Tokyo Love Hello, Chris Steele-Perkins takes us on a tour through Tokyo and the relationship he has built with the city. And what a peculiar relationship it is. No longer a stranger to the city or to Japanese culture, this book charts his first encounters and the resulting fascination with both. Unlike his earlier Mount Fuji, with its gorgeous, breathtaking landscapes, Tokyo Love Hello gets under the surface of the initial attraction and fixation, as it reveals that the author met and fell in love with his future wife while within the city limits.
This book came about organically, as he explains in the introduction. His many observations from wanderings coming together to paint a picture of his –highly subjective – view. The result is one that seems at first disparate in its edit and, at first glance, tells us nothing new about the subject. Nor is it trying to. From the humorous – a small dog slathered in a mud-wrap looking slightly perturbed – to the kitsch – rows of people donning virtual reality helmets in some sort of technology expo. The images that attract the most attention are those that relate to Steele-Perkins’ personal life – photos from his wedding and a self-portrait of him and wife, Miyako, projected in the lobby of an office building, as so often happens.
“Incongruous” is the term adopted in the opening essay by Donald Richie, who attempts to provide a context for the images by explaining what it means to be Japanese – how they are perceived by the rest of the world and how they see themselves. Perhaps out of place – this book is a highly personal exercise, and thus is not necessarily in need of a cultural history pinned to it – it does, nonetheless, set the scene.
Through seemingly unremarkable images, Steele-Perkins takes us on a journey through his Tokyo, the city he discovered during his many visits and the city that allowed him to fall in love; the Tokyo that is divided between the kimonos and the Godzillas; the über-kitsch versus the serene skyscapes appearing in the most unlikely of places; the fascination with toys and technology and the merging of both; the hardworking “salarymen” in business suits who peacefully sleep on benches alongside the homeless; the anomaly that is Tokyo which has simultaneously confused and delighted one photographer as his intrigue turned to something more enduring.