What is the interior of a “modern” Japanese home like? In the Western imagination, Japanese decoration is minimalist and Zen. The photograph Shiori Kawamoto succeeded in entering the intimacy of Japanese (es) who opened their door to him allowing him to photograph their interior. What to shake up some erroneous perceptions. A rarity in a country which devotes a cult to respect for private life. In his book ‘Daraku Room’ he gives us the results of several years of investigations in the universe of young Japanese people, in particular, of Otakus..
When we imagine the interior of a Japanese house, the image of a “zen” recount immediately comes to mind. A cliché from many representations of traditional Japanese houses with their wooden walls, its floor covered with tatami mats and the spaces separated by paper shôji. Otherwise, the minimalist character of the way of life of some Japanese has long been the buzz in foreign media. It is however rare today.
Indeed, modern Japan no longer has much to do with 19th century Japan at the time of its opening to the West. If this type of traditional architecture still exists in some luxury ryôkan and onsen, as well as in the countryside, it is no longer representative of contemporary Japanese habitat. For good reason, due to multiple factors, including earthquakes, the economic crisis and industrialization in Japan, housing has become standardized around utility monoblocks. This development has also transformed interior decoration. In fact, dare we say it, most people have no concrete idea what the interior of a modern Japanese house looks like, especially when it comes to Tokyo’s hip, young generation.
Outraged the obvious lack of space in town, reducing the escape to its strict minimum, modern Japanese homes are now openly inspired by the Western world. Today, very few new constructions offer tatami mats, futons and other sliding doors. This type of design is very expensive and reserved for a certain elite. Yes, the dream that was sold to us in Ranma ½ is no longer really on the agenda. Modern Japan has in turn become a child of the consumer society. Ikea is also all the rage among the young Japanese generation. Otakus, idols, geeks and cosplayers are no exception.
It’s certain female otakus, and more rarely men (only 2 out of 50), than Shiori Kawamoto decided to point his wise goal. Especially in their private space. Its stated goal, denounce the consequences of unbridled consumption through raw photos of interiors so overloaded with objects that you can sometimes hardly move around.
The very title of his work is indicative of his intention ‘Daraku Room’ signifying ‘Depraved room’. His work offers us raw pictures of great rarity, for anyone a little curious to discover this little-known, almost secret universe. A dive without commentary into the “natural habitat” of Japanese geeks and geekettes which really does not leave us indifferent. Spaces which nevertheless inspire beauty, a great diversity as much as a form of solitude as these confined spaces are dedicated to individuality.
What the photos of Shiori Kawamoto tell us is that Japan is still living its silent cultural revolution in shades of gray. Like other countries, mass consumption has taken an important place in the life of the young generation, but it is also resisting at the margins. “Vintage” and the use of second-hand products – particularly clothing – is also very trendy. Shimokitazawa is probably the best proof of this. Far from the standardized luxury boutiques of Ginza, this district of Setagaya district, southwest of Tokyo, is dotted with vintage thrift stores but also music bars and underground spaces constantly invested by thousands of young people.
The 150-page book, which Poulpy devoured with pleasure for you, is full of detailed shots that we hardly knew existed. It is available in Japan in bookstores but also on all online sales platforms.
Source: The book “Daraku Room” by Shiori Kawamoto
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