Mika Ninagawa

The appeal of Tokyo for Mika Ninagawa

I was born and raised in Tokyo and I am still living in Tokyo. Even so, every time I come back from another country or city, I find Tokyo interesting.

The pace of transformation here is incredibly fast. The skyline changes relentlessly, yet I can turn into some small alley to find that the atmosphere of older times that I love still lingers, refined yet chaotic.

The objects of aspiration in Tokyo, whether fashion or celebrities, change one after the other. All the latest objects of aspiration are bobbing and bouncing around at Shibuya Intersection in their rawest form, like an eddy at the bottom of a ravine. To put it another way, it's like a battlefield of fashions and ideas. It's that ephemeral nature that makes Tokyo so compelling.

My image of Tokyo is a city that is always stimulating, always on tenterhooks, as trends and fashions compete to be the most interesting among ever-changing desires.

The social distance people form with each other in Tokyo is neither touchy-feely nor cold or aloof. People respect your space, but if you ask for help they're surprisingly friendly. Everyone's striving to get ahead, yet they're modest about it, as if to say it's no big deal.


Mika Ninagawa

Photographer and film director. Recipient of the Kimura Ihei Photography Award and created numerous films.
2007: Released her directorial-debut film, Sakuran.
2008: The Mika Ninagawa Exhibition toured art galleries throughout Japan, attracting 180,000 visitors.
2010: Published a photo anthology from Rizzoli, NY that became a hot topic worldwide.
2012: Helter Skelter, a film directed by Ninagawa, was released, earning ¥2.2 billion at the box office.
Inaugurated as an executive board member of the Organizing Committee for the 2020 Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.