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  Field Notes From
Tokyo Bay



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On Assignment
View Field Notes
From Author
Tracy Dahlby



On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Photographer

Michael Yamashita



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Michael Yamashita (top), and Ryoma Kashiwagi
 

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
Tokyo Bay

Field Notes From Photographer
Michael Yamashita
Best Worst Quirkiest

I had secured the helicopter pad on top of the Nikko Hotel in Odaiba, and got Godzilla, actor Kenpachiro Satsuma, to meet me there and suit up. I told him to do as Godzilla would do, so he started thrashing his tail around and running all over the place. We were having a great time, but I kept thinking that National Geographic would never use the photos I was taking because they weren’t serious enough. Turns out I was wrong. Godzilla ended up as the lead photograph in the magazine story.



Homelessness has been a huge problem in Tokyo since Japan’s over inflated, bubble economy burst in the 1990s. So I spent time down on a strip along Tokyo Bay getting to know some of the homeless people who live there in cardboard shelters and wooden crates.
On one occasion I witnessed “eviction day.” Once a month the city government sends its sanitation workers down to sweep out the makeshift shelters. This means that hundreds of people have to wake up early, move their futons and cooking equipment, and wait until the workers are done demolishing their homes. Then they go back down and rebuild. I watched all of this in amazement. I couldn’t believe that these people, some of whom have lived there for more than ten years, have to cope not only with being homeless, but also with this bureaucratic routine that takes up an entire day, every month.



The 1980s was a time when Japan went berserk on entertainment because suddenly everyone had cash and free time. Lots of attractions were built, but now many of those projects are failing. So I decided to photograph a wave pool called Wild Blue Yokohama, which would soon be torn down and replaced with new construction. I wasn’t prepared for the scale of it. It was raining the day I went but when I walked through the doors, suddenly it was warm, bright, and the water was aqua blue. Then the wave machine started up and perfect six-foot (two-meter) waves rolled in with boogie boarders and surfers. It was the most amazing, and strange, thing to see in an indoor setting.





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