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“I will always be on the side of those who have nothing and who are not even allowed to enjoy the nothing they have in peace.

Federico Garcia Lorca

I grew up in the steel and coal towns of South Lanarkshire, our neighbours and friends were men and women who worked in those industries and other assorted factories.I guess you could say it was a tough life for many, it was all the life and community I knew until I was old enough to leave home by which time many of those jobs had gone and the whole landscape of my youth was changed, changed forever. I'm not sure the area ever recovered, the human cost of post industrialization is as plain as the graffiti on the wall that decries it!

Moving to Tokyo was a dream come true for me as a street photographer!

Ueno Asakusa Kinshicho Ryogoku

So I spend a lot of time shooting in Shitamachi(downtown) areas traditionally known as more working class and in older times pleasure parts of Tokyo! Good eating is here a dazzling array of restaurants, snacks and street food, mouthwatering and confusing all at the same delicious time.Sumo is here not far from the Sumida river which is the heart of all things downtown. Shopping is here from Ameyoko market streets in Ueno down to the famous Nakamise dori in Asakusa and much in between. Tokyo has elevated shopping to an almost artistic level that's beyond anything I've ever seen, these folks like to shop and there's plenty of choice to do so. Temples are here from the main one at Sensoji ji again in Asakusa to Kameido Tenjin, to a round every corner smaller type shrine and quiet place in the midst of the endless throng.

Kameido Shibamata Asakusa

I like this a lot, to step off from a days shooting in to some small Shinto area and get quiet for five minutes and recharge the eyes and feet.

Sensoji Temple

The term originally indicated just the three areas of Kanda, Nihonbashi and Kyobashi but as the city grew it came to include ; Adachi, Arakawa, Chiyoda (in part), Chuo, Edogawa, Koto, Sumida, and Taito wards. The physically lower part of the city along and east of the Sumida River which was the center of Edo, so much so that the two were often thought of as coterminous, while Shitamachi was not in fact synonymous with Edo, there was originally a certain "conflation of the two terms, and those born in Shitamachi are typically considered true Edokko, children of Edo. This conflation is evident in the Edo period habit of saying "I am going to Edo" to mean going from the area around Fukagawa in Koto ward to anywhere east of the Sumida river.

Kanda

Shitamachi was the center of Edo, so much so that the two were often thought of as coterminous.While Shitamachi was not in fact synonymous with Edo, there was originally a certain "conflation of the two terms, and those born in Shitamachi are typically considered true Edokko, children of Edo. This conflation is evident in the Edo period habit of saying "I am going to Edo" to mean going from the area around Fukagawa in Koto ward to anywhere east of the Sumida river.

Fukagawa Asakusa Shibamata

I feel really at home with and around the working people of Tokyo and seeing how their lives are through the lens of my short history here. Life seems tough for many in the city of Tokyo, the men and women work long and hard, I see it in their faces and tired eyes , I see also the pride and resilience of the people I grew up around in Scotland. I see a lot of laughter and enjoying life too, perhaps we're not so different after all beyond the East West cliches and preconceptions.

Kameido Ryogoku Yoshiwara

Although I've lived in two very different countries on opposite sides of the world, the experiences of the working men and women seem to me remarkably similar; work hard, play hard and try to find some sense of joy in a world of ever decreasing odds stacked against the ordinary people of it.

Tateishi Shibatmata Senzoku

Typically I will see every kind of a thing on a typical day on the street, laughter, tears, moments of sublime connection between humans, on a good day I will catch some of them. It’s those moments of Everyday Satori I am looking for in this series Shitamachi People…

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." James Baldwin.
Created By
Gerri McLaughlin
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text&photos©gerrimclaughlin2021