TOKYO SENTO PHOTOGRAPH
Origin of sentou photographs
Why did you choose sentou for a photographic theme? I was often asked this question.
I started shooting sentou in 2006.
When I was starting my career as a photographer of professional architecture, I began taking photos of a sentou that I used to go to as practice for shooting buildings.
Just at that time, the Suginami Ward Sentou Association had their 80th anniversary, and when talking about this activity, I was gladly given permission to take photos of sentou.
With the permission of the association, I was able to shoot almost all of the sentou in the same district.
As I was shooting them over and over, I became more interested in sentou as a photographic subject, so I started to take photos of other sentou in Tokyo.
The Power of Photographs
I have photographed about 200 Sentou so far.
It feels tasteless to make it into a number, however, shooting in the state where the association's backup was gone made this activity dramatic.
If a man the owner has never seen or heard suddenly wants to take a picture of sentou, it's natural that the owner won`t cheerfully say "please go ahead,”
instead they sometimes get angry and say “what`s this all about?” and report me as a suspicious person and various things like that.
On days when I did not have work, I would make an appointment, but only a few owners or landladies of sentou allowed me to take photos.
During this time there was a situation where I took a picture of a sentou before it was demolished. When I went to show the finished photos to the landlady, she was pleased and said, "It's been a nice memorial event,” with a mix of tears and a smiling face. On that day I was really able to understand a little about what it means to take photographs. After that I began my activities with Tokyo sentou in earnest.
The life of taking photos
When I started shooting, I focused on taking pictures as "clean as possible," however I gradually began to think that I wanted to take pictures of the everyday appearance of sentou little by little.
Even though houses with baths have become common, at sentou people gather, take a bath, and go home. Sentou quietly support that daily life, and I started feeling that I wanted to capture this in photos just as it is.
There are people who come to sentou, looking at the pictures.
The photograph is a catalyst for recalling the sentou which closed down.
I do not know what kind of opportunity will be given to those who see the activity of Tokyo sentou, but I think that this activity is part of the role of photographers.