The answers to the questions from Martin Perry, editor in chief and creative director at OutThere Magazine, UK. You can read more on the first issue of the magazine.|
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Kanazawa which is right in the middle of Japan. At the time of me growing up it was a very traditional and conservative city.
When did you first pick up a camera?
In my high school days, I got a 35mm camera which was used by my dad.
What motivates you to take photographs? Where do you find your inspiration?
The struggle, loneliness and a sense of alienation which I felt since my teenage years. I think I am trying to release those memories into the light in my photographs.
Why do you make photography, why not film making or painting?
I think photography is the most momentary media(art form). You can't repaint it like a oil painting or rewrite it like a writing. You put everything in one moment, you can set the moment to last forever in a photograph. That's why I love photography.
Who are your biggest influences?
Walter Pfeiffer(photographer), Herve Guibert(writer and photographer) and Gregg Araki(film director)
Is there one photograph that most defines who you are?
There isn't really one particular photo but I often juggle between these three concepts: Tokyo, Boy, and Intimacy. I think this is as close as it gets to defining myself through my work.
When did you first realise you were gay?
When I was a freshman in high school.
Are you 'out' to your family?
Yes. In 2000, out to my older sister. In 2009, to my parents.
Do you still see the need for people to identify as gay or are the days of such rigid definitions now over?
Absolutely yes. We are minority, we have to join forces to get the equal rights with the straight people.
You lived for a while as a student in New York, how did that experience effect you? Do you think it changed your outlook on life?
I felt everyone in New York had a big dream and went for it (worked toward it). I still try to have that kind of spirit and I work hard.
Do you regret leaving NY? Do you regret moving back to Tokyo?
If I had hoped to be a fashion photographer, I would never even thought to leave NY. Needless to say, it was one of the best places forth kind of work. Now I am a photographer, I take portraits of boys in Tokyo. So, here is the place to live and work for now, I think.
Tokyo is one of the most exciting cities in the world, what do you love most about living there?
It's clean, safe and convenient. It's really nice but sometimes I feel it's too nice.
Is there a big market for 'gay' art in Tokyo, or Japan generally?
I don't think so. There is no gay art market or big art collectors who are gay either. Only gay porn video companies seem to make any money.
Do you make a living from your photography?
Yes, I contribute to the music, design and art magazines.
Your work is very tender and beautiful, but still charged with eroticism, is this intentional? Do you create your work to express your sexuality? Is the intention to turn others on sexually with your images?
Eroticism is just one of many elements which are contained within my work. I hope that through this erotic aspect of my work people can find a link and relate to their own sexuality in some way.
Who are the boys in your pictures? How do you make contact with them? Do you choose them or do they approach you?
They are usually my friends or my friend's friends. Sometimes, when I see a boy that I like, I approach them directly at a cafe, work or in the street. And sometimes people who are interested in being photographed just email me.
What do yo love about Japanese boys?
I think they are neat and polite. They also look so sexless on the surface but if you look closely it's a whole different story. I like that gap bridging the outer, sexless appearance with the inner part.
Are you exclusively turned on by Asian men or do you find races attractive too?
In all of my work I try to express myself through the model. It's like a self-portrait. That's why I mostly focus on photographing Tokyo's boys. But just for myself (aside from the photo projects), I don't think any particular races are more or less attractive at all.
What would be your dream assignment? What do you plan to achieve in 2010?
I try to publish one photo book per year and also I want to start working on making a short film.
Are you an ambitious person?
I guess so.
What does freedom mean to you? And how important is to you? Have you ever been in a position where you felt that your freedom, as an artist, or as a gay man, has been compromised?
Being able to live with smile. Being able to express anything I want through my work. That is the freedom for me. I think, now I am in a half-freedom stage. I photograph and present my work almost freely, I am happy with my boyfriend and enjoy my life. Most of my friends and clients accept my sexuality but this is only for my immediate circle of friends and relatives. That's why it's only a half-freedom. I think we should keep striving for the rest of the society to finally accept homosexuality as something regular so that the future generations can have the full freedom we never had.